Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Is Time For Porch Wine

Last week, when the temperatures soared over 100 and held there for several consecutive days, I found my annual renewed zeal for “porch” wine. I ran to the cellar and pulled out a few bottles and put them in the fridge so they would be ready when I wanted them.

“Porch” wine is typically a wine that is refrigerated and most enjoyable in the summer. It is said that the term comes from France, where winemakers would save something a little more refreshing for serving in the evening after the heat of the day had passed. Typically low in residual sugar and alcohol, these wines cleanse the palate and can be sipped by themselves without food.

Probably one of my favorite porch wines is Sauvignon Blanc. This grape varietal produces wine that tends to be citrusy on the palate. Best when served cold, you can enjoy it with soft cheeses such as cheve or Gouda and a plate of crackers. Or, you can just enjoy its cooling effects as you sit and watch the sun go down.

Probably my most favorite Sauvignon Blanc from the region is Terra Blanca. This wine has wonderful grapefruit aromas and flavors. Being a huge fan of grapefruit, and yet allergic to citrus, I love this wine because it reminds me of drinking fresh grapefruit juice as a kid.
The other local winery that produces a fantastic Sauvignon Blanc is Snoqualmie. Their Sauvignon Blanc is lighter, and a little less dense with flavor, but still very crisp and refreshing.

Another fantastic porch wine is Chenin Blanc. A completely different grape from the Sauvignon Blanc, this wine is credited with its floral bouquet. A local favorite of mine is Le’Cole’s Walla Viola Chenin Blanc. This very reasonably priced Chenin is deliciously floral with hints of lilac, honeysuckle, and melon flavors. Very low in sugar, it fills the mouth with flavor and then releases the palate with a crisp finish.

Semillon is probably the most interesting and varied wine that fits into the porch wine category. Very delicate, it has many nuances and flavors that range from citrus to floral, to vanillin based on the treatment that the winemaker gives it. In just our region alone, I have tasted literally dozens of Semillons and could say that no two were notably alike.

Probably my all-time favorite Semillon from this region is Amavi’s. Produced in very limited quantity, Amavi Semillon is wonderfully delicate and refreshing, with layers of melon fruit mixed with layers of flowers. It finishes with a light acidity and a hint of orange water.

Many local vintners are starting to toy with a grape called Alberino. This Spanish varietal creates a wonderfully dry wine with bright fruit flavor and bone dry crispness on the finish. I have tasted several that are in the process of becoming public, but I still favor the Albarino produced in Spain. Martin Codax Albarino is a fantastic bottle at a very reasonable price. It is readily available at Great Pacific in Pendleton.

Last, but far from least, if you are a hardcore red drinker who has been thinking “I won’t drink any of these ‘white’ wines” I want you to consider trying a Rose’ one of these warm evenings. A true Rose’ is 100% red wine, with the juice being removed from the skins at an early stage creating a lighter appearance. You get all the benefits of Cab, Syrah, or your favorite red with out the heavy tannic structure.

As always, have a great week, and enjoy your porch with your friends!

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