The word “interesting,” of course, is a double-edged sword, as when one says that someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend is interesting, meaning “What a dork!” No, I don’t mean that! I mean interesting as “of real interest to My Readers” and white wines to look out for as alternatives to chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and riesling. Not that there’s anything wrong with those grapes — well, chardonnay is too often over-made and fiddled with — and I’m distinctly fond of sauvignon blanc and especially reisling. Many more types of white wine exist, however, and it’s in that less-traveled direction that I send My Readers today. We touch many countries and regions and a variety of grapes, both single and in fascinating and somewhat exotic blends. Look particularly at the wines priced between $11 and $17; real bargains abound there. As usual, I avoid lengthy mentions of technical, historical and geographical information in this Weekend Wine Notes — though I dote on that sort of material — for the sake of quick, incisive reviews deigned to pique your, ahem, interest and whet your palates. Enjoy!

These wines were either samples for review or encountered at wholesaler trade events.
Tenuta Sant’Antonio Scaia Bianca 2014, Delle Venezia IGT, Italy. 12% alc. 55% garganega, 45% chardonnay, according to the label; website and printed material say 50% garganega, 30% chardonnay, 20% trebbiano Soave. Medium straw-gold color; ripe, lively, crisp, bristly; brimming with notes of green apple and melon, lemon and peach; a few minutes in the glass bring in hints of jasmine and gardenia, lime peel and grapefruit; very dry, zings and sings across the palate with bright acidity and tantalizing limestone elements; heaps of personality. Excellent. About $11, a Raving Amazing Bargain.
Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif.
Villa Wolf Pinot Gris 2012, Pfalz, Germany. 13% alc. 100% pinot gris grapes. Medium burnished gold hue; straw, melon and orange rind; lemongrass and ginger, jasmine and honeysuckle; saline and savory, a touch exotic in its ripe, spicy yellow fruit and yellow flower elements; quite dry, with clean acidity and a sense of fading limestone and flint minerality; quite attractive, but drink up. Very Good +. About $12, representing Real Value.
Loosen Bros. USA, Salem, Oregon.
Alamos Torrontés 2014, Salta, Argentina. 13% alc. 100% torrontés grapes. Pale straw color; jasmine and gardenia, very lemony, hints of lemongrass and figs, honeydew and greengage; a little musky; saline briskness and crisp acidity; lovely, lively silken texture. Very Good+. About $13.
Alamos USA, Haywood, Calif.
Les Vignes de Bila-Haut 2014, Côtes du Roussillon, France (Michael Chapoutier). 13% alc. Grenache gris, grenache blanc, macabeu (or sometimes maccabeu). Pale straw-gold color; ripe and fleshy, apple peel and peach skin; lemon, lime peel, tangerine and yellow plum; cloves and a wisp of dried thyme; crisp and sassy, very spicy and quite dry but with spare and tasty stone-fruit flavors. Very Good+. About $13.
An R. Shack Selection, HB Wine Merchants, New York.
La Valentina Pecorino 2014, Bianco Colline Piscarese, Italy. NA% alc. 100% pecorino grapes. Pale gold hue; very fresh, clean and appealing; lemon balm, lime peel, almond skin and almond blossom; limestone and oyster shell, savory with a salt marsh-sea breeze edge of vitality; pert and lively, a burgeoning of stone-fruit and meadowy herbs; extremely charming but with a thread of seriousness. Very Good+. About $16.
Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa Calif.
Vina Robles “White 4” 2014, Paso Robles, California. 14.9% alc. 54% viognier, 22% vermentino, 15% verdelho, 9% sauvignon blanc. Pale straw color with faint green highlights; delicate, lightly spicy, a slight sense of sunny, leafy figs and briers; all citrus with a flush of stone-fruit; a few minutes in the glass bring in heady notes of lilac and Evening in Paris; very appealing, with a beautiful texture and structure that fill the mouth with almost powdery talc-like elements cut by bright acidity. Drink now through 2017. Excellent. About $16.
Bodega de Txakoli Tadai Berri Alleme Txakolina 2014, Getariako Txakolina. NA% alc. 100% hondarribi zuri grapes. The wine is pronounced chakoli; txakolina means “the txakoli.” The hondarribi zuri grape is primarily grown, where it is cultivated at all, in Spain’s Basque country. Very pale straw color; just faintly effervescent, as a sort of quiet, persistent tickle; white flowers and yellow fruit, let’s say, gardenia, peach and yellow plums, all quite gently expressed, with hints of almond blossom and lychee; lively, crisp, clean, caressing. Drink up as a very pleasant and unusual aperitif; these wines are not meant to last. Very Good+. About $17.
Kysela Pere et Fils, Winchester, Va.
ponzi pb
Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Blanc 2014, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 13.4% alc. 1,000 cases. 100% pinot blanc grapes. Very pale straw-gold hue; roasted lemons and spiced pears, notes of quince, nectarine and ginger; subtly floral, like some tiny white slightly astringent flower; mountainy and meadowy; incisive acidity with elements of steel and limestone and a haze of smoke and talc; quite dry but immensely appealing and satisfying. Excellent. About $20, representing Great Value.
Amity Vineyards Pinot Blanc 2013, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 13% alc. 181 cases. 100% pinot blanc. Medium straw-gold hue; lemon balm, lime peel, slightly caramelized grapefruit; intriguing notes of cedar and hay; a fresh, breezy and bracing wine, lovely purity and intensity; hints of quince, peach skin and ginger; lithe and supple on the palate with crystalline acidity and vibrant limestone minerality. Now through 2016. Excellent. About $22.
mccay viognier
McCay Cellars Viognier 2014, Lodi, California. 14.1% alc. 100% viognier grapes. Very pale gold color; peach, roasted lemon and lavender; slightly honeyed, with notes of beeswax, dried thyme and rosemary, with the latter’s hint of resiny quality; very clean, pure and intense, lovely presence and weight; more on the graceful, spare and elegant side of the grape, though a hint of caramelized fennel lends something exotic; a lingering finish that turns a bit austere with limestone and flint minerality. Now through 2018 to 2020. Excellent. About $24.
Clos le Vigneau 2013, Vouvray, Loire Valley, France. (Alexandre Monmousseau). NA%alc. 100% chenin blanc grapes. Bright straw-gold hue; vouvrayhay, damp stones, jasmine; hazelnuts and almond skin; notes of peach, apricot and yellow plums; lean and lithe, chiseled limestone minerality and chiming acidity yet a soft approachable texture; a hint of sweetness on the entry but very dry from mid-palate back through the spice and mineral freighted finish. Now through 2018 to 2020. Excellent. About $19.
Kysela Pere et Fils, Winchester, Va.
anaba white
Anaba Wines Turbine White 2013, Sonoma Valley, California. 14% alc. 42% roussanne, 20% grenache blanc, 20% picpoul blanc, 18% marsanne. 354 cases. Shimmering pale gold hue; roasted lemon, dried thyme, beeswax, lanolin, lilac; notes of heather and peach and a hint of some exotic floral and pressed nut oil; bountifully presents a full-bodied, seductive texture packed with spiced and roasted peach and apricot flavors but balanced by riveting acidity and an element of damp-stone minerality. Super appealing, practically glitters in the glass. Excellent. About $28, and Worth a Search.

Here we go, nine red wines entirely fit for drinking with such fare as pizza, hamburgers, lasagna, spaghetti and meat balls, hearty sandwiches and so forth. These reviews are brisk, brief, incisive — forgoing technical, historical and geographical detail for the sake of immediacy. All these wines were samples for review or were tasted at a wholesaler’s trade event. Enjoy! ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Illuminate-2012RedBlend_NorthCoast-frontIlluminate Red Blend 2012, North Coast. 13.9% alc. 95% merlot, dollops of cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot. (A second label of Kimmel Vineyards) Red and black berries with a touch of roasted plum; smoke, cedar and tobacco, hint of black olive; pleasing heft, lively and appealing; slightly slappy and sappy tannins, soft and dusty. For enjoyable, quaffable drinking. Very Good. About — ready for this? — $10, so Buy by the Case.
Tormaresca Neprica 2011, Pulgia. 13.5% alc. 40% negroamaro, 30% primitivo, 30% cabernet sauvignon. (Tormaresca is Antinori’s outpost in Puglia.) Very deep ruby-purple; very dark and spicy red and black berry notes, permeated by dust and graphite, tar and oolong tea with hints of licorice, lavender and leather; robust and rustic in the best way, bristly, briery and juicy; lively acidity and chewy tannins in a dense but polished package. Tremendous personality for the price. Very Good+. About $11 (and often discounted around the country), marking Terrific Value.
Imported by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Woodinville, Washington
gnarly head
Gnarly Head “1924” Double Black 2013, California. 15% alc. Zinfandel, merlot, syrah. A “limited edition” wine though number of cases is unspecified. (A label of Delicato Family Vineyards) Inky purple-black with a magenta rim; nothing subtle here but a strapping, muscular and juicy number, with ripe, spiced and macerated blackberry, blueberry and loganberry scents and flavors; briery and brambly, graphite and violets, bitter chocolate; pert and lively acidity, a core of mocha, lavender and velvety tannins; both concentrated and generous. Very Good+. About $12, Real Value.
Castelmaure Col des Vents 2014, Corbières, France. 13.5% alc. 50% carignan, 35% grenache, 15% syrah. Always a favorite. Medium ruby color; thyme and sage, spiced and macerated blackberries and currants and a hint of blueberries; juicy, tasty, lively; a note of graphite minerality over moderately dusty, slightly rustic tannins. Very Good+. About $12, a Great Bargain.
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils, Winchester, Va.
Charles Thomas Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge 2013, Côtes-du-Rhône, France. 13.5% alc. (From Maison Jean-Baptiste Bejot) 50% syrah, 40% grenache, 10% mourvedre. Vibrant dark ruby hue; lovely evocation of the southern Rhone: lavender, cloves, leather, sage; blackberries, currants and plums; a few minutes bring in hints of lavender and licorice; well-developed, ripe and spicy black fruit flavors bolstered by graphite, bright acidity and slightly chewy, medium-impact tannins. Very Good+. About $12, Amazing for the Price.
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils, Winchester, Va.
La Valentina 2012, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italy. 13% alc. 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Dark ruby-purple hue with a violet rim; red currants and raspberries with a nod toward black currants and blueberries; cloves, lavender and black pepper, sage and briers; brisk acidity and bright red and blue fruit flavors buoyed by moderately plush, dusty tannins; a robust finish, packed with spice, dried flowers and graphite. Very Good+. About $14, Excellent Value.
Imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif.
Chateau de Ségriès Côtes-du-Rhône 2013, Côtes-du-Rhône, France. 14% alc. 50% grenache, 30% syrah, 10% each cinsault and carignan. Talk about an over-achiever! Dark ruby hue, tinge of violet at the rim; mint, smoke, leather and a touch of iodine; blackberries, black and red currants and plums; violets and lavender; lithe and supple texture, flows deliciously across the palate, but tannins feel burnished and slightly roughened, as though polished with fine sandpaper; a finish packed with spice and granitic minerality. Drink now through 2018 or 2020. Excellent. About $15, an Unbeatable Bargain.
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils, Winchester, Va.
Cepa 21 Hito 2014, Ribera del Duero, Spain. 14.5% alc. 100% tempranillo. Dark ruby with a violet-magenta rim; an inky, savory and saline tempranillo, with notes of lavender and graphite, leather and lilac, black cherries, currants and plums, all smoldering in the glass; a few minutes unfold hints of iodine and mint; cozy and cushiony tannins have a lithic-briery bite; clean acidity runs through it, lending energy and verve; the ripe, dusty black fruit flavors persist through a dense, slightly austere finish. Lots of presence for the price. Now through 2019 to 2021. Excellent. About $16.
Imported by Moro Brothers Inc., New York
hess treo
Hess Select Winemaker’s Blend 2012, California. 13.8% alc. 38% petite sirah, 29% syrah, 22% zinfandel, 11% merlot. Dark ruby hue, faintly purple; and then if “purple” had a smell and taste: inky but not brooding, spiced and macerated black and red currents, red raspberries and a hint of mulberry, all infused with cloves, graphite and lavender; robust but more sleek than rustic, vibrant acidity to keep your taste-buds wanting more; non-threatening tannins frame it nicely along granitic lines. Now through 2016 into 2017. Very Good+. About $17.

Here’s a savory Spanish white wine to mark the transition from Summer to Fall. The Bodegas Terras Gauda O Rosal 2014, Rias Baixas, terras gaudacomes from Galicia, the country’s northwestern-most province that borders Portugal on the south and faces the Atlantic Ocean on the west and north. A blend of 70 percent albariño grapes with 15 percent each loureiro and caiño blanco, the wine was fermented with native yeasts and made entirely in stainless steel tanks for freshness and immediate appeal. The color is brilliant yellow-gold; aromas of hay, spiced pears and quince are bolstered by notes of bees’-wax, lanolin, dried thyme and figs; a few minutes in the glass bring in hints of honeysuckle, almond blossom and orange zest. Practically shimmering with vibrant acidity, O Rosal 2014 offers a lovely, lithe texture infused by stone-fruit flavors and a bracing, lively presence framed by sea-breeze salinity and heaps of limestone minerality. The alcohol content is 12.5 percent. Drink through 2017 or ’18 with fresh or grilled seafood or mildly spicy Thai or Vietnamese dishes. Excellent. About $24.

Imported by Aveníu Brands, Baltimore, Maryland. A sample for review.

This product was a new twist to me, Cava Rosé, made from 100 percent garnacha (grenache) grapes, in the region south of Barcelona. The cavaIsaac Fernandez Selección Biutiful Brut Rosé, nv, was made — as Cava is supposed to be — in the traditional Champagne method of second fermentation in the bottle; it rested 12 months on the lees before being disgorged and re-corked in the same bottle. The color is a lovely coral-copper hue that’s animated by a froth of glinting, upward surging bubbles. I was surprised and pleased at the quality of this Cava, especially at the price; this is no kissy-face little pushover. Notes of strawberries, raspberries and orange zest are wreathed with hints of apple skin, almond blossom and lime peel that devolve to a pronounced aroma of damp limestone and flint. Those mineral aspects dominate the palate, where this sparking wine is delicate, elegant and a little austere, but spare flavors of slightly spiced and macerated red fruit are not neglected. The finish is sleek, saline and chiseled, lithe but generous, and delivers a full component of limestone and chalk minerality. I could drink this stuff all day, metaphorically speaking, of course, but you know what I mean. 12.5 percent alcohol. Excellent. About $14 to $16, a Freaking Terrific Value.

Imported by Grapes of Spain, Lorton, Va. A sample for review.

Sherry remains the great bargain among the world’s wines, with even fine examples costing no more than a trade paperback book, but it’s a hard sell. A few years ago, we had people over for dinner, and I served as first course a chilled pea soup with a glass of fino sherry to accompany it, actually a classic pairing. Our guests were not only not amused, they took one sip and wouldn’t go back to the well; they just didn’t get it. Despite that experience, however, I’ll breast the tide and offer as Wine of the Day, No. 58, the Fino Jerez Seco from the firm of Emilo Hildago, founded in 1874 and operated now by the family’s fifth generation. How much Hidalgo_Finoabout sherry needs explanation? Probably everything, so here goes.

Sherry is made only in the arid region around the seacoast city of Cadiz in far southern Spain, on the Atlantic side, west of Gibraltar. The combination of grapes varieties, the chalky soil, proximity to the ocean, the close to drought-like climate — annual rainfall is 19 inches — and the unique solera process result in a wine that at its best rivals the great wines of Europe’s other famous winemaking regions. The corollary is that lots of anonymous, generic, mediocre sherry is also produced.

Sherry is a fortified wine made principally from the palomino grape with some estates still cultivating minuscule amounts of Muscat of Alexandria and Pedro Ximenez, the latter for dessert wines that can attain legendary qualities. After fermentation, the wines are fortified with grape spirit to 15 or 15.5 percent (for elegant fino sherry) up to 18 or 19 percent for richer oloroso style sherry. The lower alcohol content in fino sherry does not inhibit the growth of the flor, the natural yeast the grows across the surface of the wine in the barrel and contributes to fino sherry its typical and unforgettable light mossy-nutty character. The sherry houses are situated in three towns, Jerez de la Frontera — “sherry” is an English corruption of “jerez” — Sanlucar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa Maria; though geographically not too distant from each other, the three locations impart different qualities to the fino sherries that originate in them.

The solera system is a method of blending in which some of the oldest wine is withdraw from its barrel and topped up with the next oldest and on down the line to the youngest wines that entered the solera after fermentation and fortifying. The constant process of topping off in this manner keeps refreshing the older wines and ensures a steady house style year by year. Some houses run complicated systems of as many as 20 different solera to satisfy the demands of the different types of sherry that they produce, which we won’t get into except to say that fino is the lightest, driest and most delicate of the categories and perfect for drinking with a variety of dishes, including fresh seafood, sushi and — the traditional match — thin slices of Iberico ham.

The Emilio Hildago Fino Jerez Seco, made from 100 percent palomino grapes, offers a pale gold color and aromas that would indicate the sort of snacks or tapas you might want to nibble while sipping it: toasted almonds, green olives, fried capers with hints of thyme and sage; after a few moments in the glass, it evinces a subtle and elusive floral element. All of these elements are woven with utmost nuance and delicacy. On the palate, this fino sherry is nutty and slightly mossy, savory and saline and imbued with a sense of ethereal energy, vibrancy and structure. 15 percent alcohol. The barrels this fino sherry were aged in, by the way, are 80 to 100 years old and made from American oak. Winemaker was Manuel Jesus Nieves. Fino sherry should be served thoroughly chilled and then stored, recorked or with a stopper, back in the refrigerator, never out on a shelf or sideboard. Serve with smoked or roasted almonds, green olives, Serrano or Iberico ham, roasted peppers, calamari or fritto misto. Also my famous chilled pea soup. Excellent. About $14 for a 500 milliliter bottle, representing Great Value.

Imported by Winebow, Inc., New York. A sample for review.

Here’s a nifty red wine to quaff while chowing down on pizza, burgers, spaghetti and meatballs, nachos and other fare that’s terrifically satisfying and not so good for you — but the red wine cancels out the bad parts! Finca Resalso 2014, from Spain’s Ribera del Duero region, composed of 100 percent tempranillo grapes, is the youngest wine to issue from Bodegas Emilio Moro, made from vines five to 15 years old. It ages four months — a few heartbeats in the life of a more substantial wine — in French and American oak. Fresh, clean and ripe, the Finca Resalso 2014 offers a dark ruby-violet hue and gripping aromas of black and red currants and plums, with undertones of blueberry, cloves and lavender over a base of graphite. The wine is moderately full-bodied, tasty with its red and black fruit flavors and nicely firm in its slightly dusty branchy tannins, all elements tied together by bright acidity; a few minutes in the glass bring in notes of black tea and orange zest, all ensconced in a finish that feels lively and a bit feral. 13.5 percent alcohol. Drink through 2016 or ’17 and don’t worry your pretty little heads about it. Very Good+. About $15, representing Real Value.

Imported by Moro Brothers Inc., New York. A sample for review.

Let’s begin August with a bargain-priced rosé wine from Spain’s Rioja region. You would guess that a red or pink wine from that area renowned for its tempranillo grapes would be made from tempranillo, which is it primarily but with 20 percent garnacha grapes in the blend. The Viña Aguía Rosado 2014 offers a vivid medium copper-salmon hue and enticing aromas of fresh strawberries and raspberries macerated with cloves, thyme and orange peel. This is a quite dry, robust and savory rosé — nothing delicate or fragile here — with a pronounced element of limestone minerality under its juicy spicy red fruit flavors, chiming acidity for crispness and animation and a quality that edges close to tannic. Still, the wine is definitely made for immediate drinking for its freshness and sense of elevation, especially through the finish, which brings in subtle notes of pomegranate and candied orange zest. The alcohol content is 13.5 percent. We happily drank this bottle with a pasta and a summery cold sauce of ripe tomatoes with capers, green olives, mozzarella and lots of basil. Very Good+. About $12, marking Great Value.

Imported by Quintessential Wines, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

We’ll resume the Wine of the Day series — and posting to the blog after a long vacation hiatus — with a model albariño white wine that’s not just fetching and delightful but subtly serious and multi-layered. The Pazo San Mauro Albariño 2014, from Spain’s Rias Baixas region, derives from a 30-hectare estate established in 1988, though grape-growing and winemaking on the site date back to the 16th Century. One hundred percent varietal and made all in stainless steel, the Pazo San Mauro Albariño 2014 is clean, fresh, savory and slightly saline. It offers a pale gold hue and attractive aromas of roasted lemons, spiced pears and lime peel, with flavors that develop along the delicious lines of mango and peach, though not too ripe or florid; this is more about spareness and elegance. A few minutes in the glass bring in elements of bee’s-wax, lanolin and lavender, along with a nuanced touch of woodsy-leafy earthiness. Brisk acidity keeps the wine crisp and lively, a sort of precursor to its essential and bracing sea-breeze/salt-marsh character. 12.5 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2017 with grilled shrimp or mussels, trout sauteed in a cast-iron skillet, paella and fish tacos. Pazo San Mauro is part of Marques de Vargas Family Wines & Estates. Excellent. About $19, representing Real Value.

Imported by Dreyfus, Ashby & Company, New York. A sample for review.

The Abella family has been growing grapes in Spain’s Priorat region since the 15th Century, which means, yes, since before Columbus sailed off to find India and instead stumbled upon the New World, “new,” that is, to some people but not to those who already lived there. The family didn’t actually go into the business of founding a formal estate and making wine until early in the 20th Century, which still puts them pretty early in the game. The vineyards are steeply sloped and lie at altitudes of 1,500 to 2,300 feet above sea level. The Marco Abella Loidana 2010, Priorat, blends 60 percent garnacha (grenache) grapes, 25 percent carignan and 15 percent cabernet sauvignon to make a wine that displays a vibrant deep ruby color and vivid aromas of cedar and dried thyme, red and black currants, cherries and plums and notes of cloves, lavender and bitter chocolate. The red and black fruit flavors are framed by chewy tannins brushed with dust and graphite and incisive acidity that lends liveliness and a thirst-quenching quality; dense and full-bodied, the wine offers a full complement of loamy and lithic elements, finishing with broad dimensions of peppery, spicy flavors, iron and iodine. 14.5 percent alcohol. A wine of real character, almost nobility, yet one that’s approachable and enjoyable, especially, I would say, with grilled leg of lamb adorned with garlic and rosemary or a medium rare rib-eye steak crusted with black and green peppercorns. Drink now through 2020 or so. Excellent. About $30.

Imported by Terlato Wines International, Lake Bluff, Ill. A sample for review.

If your weekend includes such activities as lying out in the sun by the pool, lounging on the patio, making merry at a woodland picnic, then I have a wine suitable for these lazy, early Summer occasions. Or, you might live in Texas, in which case, never mind. The product I offer today is the Monopole 2014, a delightful, refreshing white wine from the CVNE estate in Spain’s Rioja region, made entirely from viura grapes in stainless steel; never did a wine less require a “kiss of oak.” The color is pale straw-gold with a tinge of green; the bouquet — appropriate term — wreathes notes of jasmine and honeysuckle with hints of green grapes, yellow plums and spiced pears, not ostentatiously but with lovely subtlety and nuance. Nor is the wine’s texture or structure ostentatious, rather exhibiting juicy yellow and stone-fruit flavors with bright, engaging acidity and a scintillating limestone element in perfect, spare balance; the finish is enlivened with slightly bitter touches of grapefruit and almond skin. Above all, this is a wine outfitted for pure pleasure, so don’t worry your pretty little head about it, just sip contentedly and let the weekend do its work. 12.5 percent alcohol. Very Good+. About $15, representing a Real Bargain.

Imported by Europvin USA, Van Nuys, Calif. A sample for review.

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