When summer’s warm weather comes, even die hard red drinkers turn to white wine. However, if you're sick of the over-oaked, buttery Chardonnays that flood the marketplace, even to the point of being an ABC (anything but Chardonnay) person, consider a different letter—V.
Viognier, a grape known for its floral aromatics and fruit-forward flavor profile, is grown in Condrieu and the Languedoc in France, and more recently in California and Australia. It is fairly low in acid and is often used as a blending grape to soften Shiraz in Australia. Great food wine, especially with Thai food. An excellent example is Triennes Sainte Fleur from southern France.
Verdicchio is grown primarily in the Marche region of Italy. It has a fairly marked acidity and a lemony citrus flavor profile with a definite almondy background. This wine can age and become more complex and layered. It is wonderful with seafood, chicken, or even pork. San Lorenzo Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Vigneto di Gino is one of my all-time favorite white wines. Aged on the lees for nine months, it is more medium-bodied and complex than most Verdicchios. Fantastic with bacon wrapped scallops.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano is from the area surrounding the town of San Gimignano in Tuscany. This wine is crisp and clean with good acidity and citrus fruit flavors. It's great with sushi. Cantine Gini is an excellent example. The palate is crisp and elegant with a hint of almond on the nose.
Vermentino is the major white grape of Sardinia. It produces wines of good acidity (despite the very hot growing conditions) and noticeable minerality without the citrus zing of many white wines. Argiolas Costamolino is wonderful, with lots of fruit balanced with a beautiful minerality. It’s a beautiful match with fish and shellfish.
Verdejo is grown primarily in the Rueda region of Spain, although it originated in North Africa. It is also being grown successfully in Australia. This grape has aromas of tropical fruit with flavors of lime and green apple. An interesting example is Molly Dooker The Violinist. Molly Dooker means left-handed in Australia and this wine is typical of this estate…immense fruit extraction, huge flavor of tropical and citrus fruit.
The letter V rules in the summer. All of these wines are wonderful by themselves and with summertime fare at lunch and dinner. So get adventurous, forget the Chardonnay and the Pinot Grigio, and try some of these. You’ll be glad you did.