The older I get, the more I realize the details of life matter most. Not the car I drive — although my Mini Cooper is so freakin’ cute it’s sinful — or the life- and time-saving gadgets that organize my scattered brain. What matters is appreciating the gushing sweetness of the season’s first strawberry, the soft touch of my cat’s fur or the first sip of a perfect white wine on a warm spring afternoon. ‘Tis the season to start thinking about whites to enjoy in the post-winter sunshine. Perhaps one of these $20 and under selections will get you into the mood.
Kim Crawford 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough (New Zealand) From the king of New Zealand comes another reliably charming wine — capped with a screwtop, no less. Its green grass aromas give way to dry, crisp acidity, ripe Granny Smith apples, zingy lime and plenty of refreshing grapefruit. The 2008 trumps previous vintages. Sw=1. $13. 5 stars.
The Crusher 2007 Viognier California Viognier [VEE oh NYAY] is a finicky, difficult grape to nail down. The French version tastes austere and steely but smells like blooming jasmine. California viognier, however, often has a slight sweetness and intense floral aromas, like in this wine. Perfumey wafts of orange blossoms lead into rich, luxuriant honeysuckle, sweet apricot and pear. Smooth and creamy texture on the palate, with a wet stone minerality that lasts through the finish. Sw=3. $15. 4 stars.
Snoqualmie 2007 Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley (Washington) A wine you can feel good about drinking; it’s produced from sustainably or organically farmed grapes. Crisp and not tongue numbingly green with soft honey, peach and melon. Finishes with sweet licorice. Outstanding value. Sw=2. $8. 4 stars.
Peter Lehmann 2008 Layers Adelaide (Australia) For those looking for a sweeter, softer ride, this smooth sipper from Australia’s Adelaide Hills is like a Porsche with loose suspension. A complex blend of five grapes ranging from the racy, spicy gewürztraminer grape to earthy sémillon, it’s evocative and full of fruit. Peaches, vanilla and roasted walnuts complete the package. Sw=4. $16. 4 stars.
Mondavi Solaire 2007 Chardonnay Santa Lucia Highlands (California) The grapes for this wine come from the cool climate Santa Lucia Mountain range south of San Fran. For the fans of buttery and oaky, you’ve found a friend; there’s little crispness in this fresh, plush chardonnay. It tastes flowery with jasmine and honeysuckle, and fruity with ripe apricot and peach. Sw=3. $15. 3.5 stars.
Batasiolo 2007 Moscato d’Asti (Italy) The uber-fragrant Muscat grape thrives in the hills of Italy’s Piedmont region, where artisans produce the effervescent and sweet Moscato d’Asti. It’s related to Asti Spumante, but only as you are to your hick cousins in West Virginia. Low in alcohol, these flowery dessert substitutes taste soft and lush, like this one from Batasiolo. The roses, effusive peaches, apricot and white grape juice bring back memories of Grandma’s perfume. Sw=5. $14. 3.5 stars.
Santadi “Villa Solais” 2006 Vermentino di Sardegna (Italy) Not the green, tart vermentino you may have experienced in the past. This one smells like seawater, then surprises you with Riesling-like diesel fuel, earthy minerality, honey and red apple with a soft, lemony finish. Sw=2. $12. 3 stars.
Sweetness (Sw) rating: 1-10. Star rating: 1-5. Reach Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @tayloreason, and on Facebook.
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