Bold white wines awaken palates for the summer

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer. Although the calendar and the weather are not in stride quite yet, it’s time to awaken our wine palates after a longer than usual winter/spring hibernation.

 I turn to vibrant whites to get reacclimated to the colors, aromas and flavors of the season. What follows is a list of my perennial favorites. They share characteristics that are essential to complement my wine mood at this time of year. Each is bright, bold and expressive.

 All of them are consistently good and produced in large numbers so they are easy to find and afford. My mother always said there is a difference between cheap and inexpensive, and these wines make clear the distinction.

 Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling Columbia Valley Dry 2011 ($9) While offering an abundance of fruit and floral flavors, most notably mandarin orange; white peach; grapefruit; lilac and sage, this wine delivers a crisp, refreshing finish that lingers long on the palate.

 A to Z Pinot Gris 2011 ($12) This is a lively wine with bright tropical aromas of apple and tangerine as well as subtle hints of rose, melon, stone and talc. It has an intriguing finish, balancing juiciness, minerality and creaminess.

 Aveleda Vinho Verde Quinta de Aveleda 2011 ($8) Pale green in color and slightly effervescent when poured, this classic refresher from Portugal tastes of green apple, white raspberry and oyster shells with a restrained spicy aftertaste.

 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Chardonnay 2010 ($12) Opening with bright fruit aromas of apple and pear, this wine harmonizes its distinct signature notes of caramelized sugar, butterscotch and toast. The refined flavors of this crisp Chardonnay end with a gracefully lingering finish of cream and butter nuances.

 Bogle Chardonnay 2011 ($12) Generous aromas of fruit and toasty oak are followed by flavors of juicy pear and lemon meringue. A rich and velvety feel adds complexity to the fruit. It ends with a suggestion of nutmeg over mouthwatering acidity.

 Cline North Coast Viognier 2010 ($13) This Viognier offers rich and distinctive aromas of apricots, pineapple and honeysuckle. Medium bodied with a slightly oily feel, there is a spicy and savory essence to the fruit that lingers on a well-crafted finish.

 Ferrari Carano Fume Blanc 2012 ($15) A bright nose of orange blossom, quince, lemon and mango are complemented by flavors of pear and candied grapefruit. This is a crisp, pretty wine that will that make you want to quaff it faster than you should.

Derek M. LaVallee, partner at Kemp Goldberg Partners and certified wine buff, can be reached directly at