Six summer whites for less than $110 |

Six summer whites for less than $110

Buy wine now. The whites.With the heat upon us, the time is ripe to drink summer wine. Recently, I went to a half-dozen Aspen wine shops to buy an assorted case of flavors perfect for summer sipping. My modus operandi was to get 12 tasty wines, six red and six white, that would be light and refreshing in the afternoon heat, but would also step up at an evening barbecue. My guides would be the guys on the floor of the wine shops. Each was asked to recommend one red and one white. Oh, and I wanted an affordable batch with a budget not to exceed $240 for the case, or $20 per bottle.Keep in mind that if you purchase a case of wine at one of these shops you generally get a discount of 10 percent on your purchase. I eschewed that incentive in order to check out the local shops and talk wine with the sales people. It’s a great way to get an introduction to new and different wines you may not thought of purchasing before. I also wanted my case to be as varied as possible, by both grape and region. I wanted a global box. Here are the white wine selections. My first stop was Aspen’s newest wine shop at Specialty Foods of Aspen. Marco is a son of Italy so, no surprise, he chose a pair of Italian wines for his summer suggestions.Marco’s white selection was the Alois Lageder 2006 Pinot Bianco, which sells for $15.99. A classic choice with cheese, this clean, crisp quaffer hails from the foothills of the Dolomites, the Alto Adige region, in Italy’s far northeastern corner. You can taste the rocky soil, the mineral content from these high-altitude vines that share perhaps more in common with the crisp white wines of Austria or Germany than with whites from other regions of Italy.Next I went down Puppy Smith Road to Aspen Wine and Spirits, where Bill Reilly took my bait. His suggestion for a summer white comes from the Columbia River Valley, a Charles Smith 2006 Kung-Fu Girl Riesling. This offering will guarantee conversation at your next picnic for the label alone, a pen and ink of, well, a kung fu girl. Think Tarentino’s “Kill Bill” films. But the wine is the star here. Again, crisp and clean, it shows off what great wines – both red and white – are being produced in Washington state. It sells for $16.99.Kyle was working the floor on Main Street at Carl’s. His summertime white wine selection was a Provenance Vineyards 2006 Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc. From the Napa Valley, this wine pairs well with shellfish and is tough enough to hold up to grilled fish such as wild salmon. Kyle prefers this steel-fermented wine over many of the more acclaimed New Zealand sauvignon blancs because he finds it less “grassy.” It sells for $17.95.Of Grape and Grain was our next stop and the boys were still aglow from the Food & Wine Classic. Jason, Johnny and Gary all chipped in and came up with a Chateau St. Jean 2005 Fume Blanc from California’s Sonoma County. This blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon has been fermented in wood – both French and American oak – and showed a little gold in the glass. It is a versatile selection for pairing with food and is priced nicely at $13.75.Local Spirits manager and wine buyer Scott MacCracken took us to the limits of our price range. But his selection was well worth it. A Spy Valley Malborough Pinot Gris 2005 from New Zealand was an inspired choice. MacCracken said the region on the north shore of New Zealand’s south island is well known for “lively” sauvignon blancs. This pinot gris shows some liveliness as well and at $19.99 is well worth trying.The last liquor store within Aspen’s downtown core, The Grog Shop, was the final place I visited, and there I got the only chardonnay in the case, the Kunde Estate 2005 Chardonnay Nu. For those who don’t like big, rich, yellow, oak, chardonnays, don’t worry. Kunde’s approach with this wine is to let the grapes do their thing. No oak. “Naked” wine they call it and for $19.99 Roger Carlsen gave us a different taste of a familiar grape.Italy, Washington, Napa, Sonoma (twice) and New Zealand. Six different tastes. All for less than $110.Next week we’ll check out the reds.Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be designated appellation of Old Snowmass with his wife, Linda, and a black Lab named Vino. He can be reached at

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