Low-cost white wines for a soothing summer 

The upside of uncertain economic times is that people drink less-expensive wines, and that means broadening our horizons to wine regions and types of wines that might have otherwise escaped our attention.

Before launching into the recommendations, I just want to make clear that there is a difference between cheap and value. Cheap means just that — and this of course is relative. Value means getting what you pay for, and more. Sure, there are a plenty of wines that are under $10 a bottle, some in large formats at that, but if you are willing or able to stretch your budget to $15, there is more value to be found.

Here are some ideas for white wines:

Fair Valley Chenin Blanc, 2009 (Coastal Region, South Africa): Fair Valley was founded in 1997 as a farm workers cooperative. According to its constitution, “The Association’s main purpose is for the previously disadvantaged workforce of the Fairview Estate, as well as their future generations and dependants, to gain ownership of Fair Valley, to keep it and to create a sustainable and commercially viable business and to establish equal job opportunities.” How about that? The first wine ever made was the 1998 chenin blanc, which I never tasted, however this ’09 is a delight with apricots, mineral undertones and a rich palate. Suggested retail: $11.99

Parés Baltà, Blanc de Pacs 2010 (Penedés, Spain): I wrote about Parés Baltà’s xarel-lo last week, but this blend of the three cava grapes — parellada, xarel-lo, macabeo — should not be overlooked, as it is also a beautifully balanced and enjoyable white wine that with its crisp mineral quality is perfect for the summer. Certified organic and just 11.5 percent alcohol, it will satisfy all the current buzz police, too. Suggested retail: $12.99

Félines Jourdan Picpoul de Pinet, 2010 (Languedoc, France): Crisp white wines may not seem like the kind of wines that would be grown in the Languedoc’s Mediterranean climate but Picpoul has long been at home in Pinet and other towns near Montpellier. Claude Jourdan is a third-generation winemaker, having taken over from her father 15 years ago. Since first tasting the ’07 vintage, I’ve been hooked on this wine. Bright and minerally with hints of lime and pith, it makes a perfect pairing with raw seafood. Suggested retail: $13.99

Casale Marchese Frascati Superiore, 2010 (Lazio, Italy): Frascati, the town, is just minutes from Rome so these white wines are easy to find in the Italian capital, but in the United States, they are at best obscure. There is a lot of bad Frascati made, at least exported, but a few run counter to its image as a mediocre, insipid wine. Casale Marchese’s is a great example. Made from malvasia di Candia, malvasia del Lazio, trebbiano toscano, bombino and bellone, this is a fresh, pleasant sipping wine with pineapple, pear, lemon meringue and mineral underpinnings. Suggested retail: $14.99

Pamela S. Busch is the owner of Skrewcap.com, founder of CAV Wine Bar and a Bay Area wine consultant. Please submit your questions to Pamela@Skrewcap.com.

About The Author

Pamela S. Busch

Pamela Busch has been working in the wine industry since 1990 as a writer, educator and consultant and co-founded Hayes & Vine Wine Bar and Cav Wine Bar & Kitchen. In 2013, she launched TheVinguard.com.
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