Our Favorite Spring and Summer Wines for 2021

For our second wine panel of 2021, we asked our panel of wine industry professionals to sample and grade spring and summer wines. As we move on from winter’s cold grip, it’s time to pop those bubblies and lighter-style wines!

As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’s retail price (which can vary from store to store and market to market). Unless noted otherwise, the price reflects a 750-ml. bottle.

Rating System

Five Stars (100-92): A top-flight wine, superior in taste and character, and providing a superior price/value ratio.

Four Stars (91-86): A very good wine and an excellent value. A wine for which customers will keep coming back.

Five Star Wines

(97) Herdade do Rocim Terracotta Clay Aged Tinto 2017 (Portugal)

A blend of Portuguese and international red grape varieties, this wine ferments in traditional large stone lagars. After fermentation, the wine ages in large clay amphorae, eliminating any introduction of oak tannins. The wine is rich, yet supple, with good quantities of black fruit, and traces of spice. The excellent weight and texture are balanced by the brightness of the fruit, as well as the lengthy finish. Outstanding.  ($50)

(96) Bodegas Del Palacio de Fefinanes Albarino Rias Baixes 2018 (Spain)

Mouth-watering structure with notes of white peach, melon and lemongrass filling the mouth and seducing the palate. Stone fruit and sea air comes through on the endless finish. The close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean gives this wine its backbone. Look to pair with anything that comes out of the ocean. Amazing. ($24.99)

(95) Yealands Estate S1 Single Block Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (New Zealand)

An absolute masterpiece of a sauvignon blanc. The layers of flavor are perfectly crafted, giving your palate and endless wave of grapefruit and grass. The balance from start to finish leaves you wanting for your next sip. ($30)


(95) Bertrand Galbrun Bourgueil ‘Chatrois’ 2019 (France)

Produced from older cabernet franc vines, this wine’s vineyard enjoys both biodynamic and organic certifications. The wine does not see any added sulfites added to the native yeast, used for fermentation. Brilliant ruby, with notes on the nose and palate of red berries, and touches herbs. Elegant, with superb focus; this is a wine to accompany a special meal. ($21)

(95) Barrage Cellars “Cease and Desist” Cabernet Franc 2015 (WA)

Sourced from two of Washington’s finest vineyards, the wine is a bright, deeper ruby, with great depth of color. The nose and palate offer a lovely, complex combination of dark fruit and subtle spice notes. It is quite weighty, as well as mouth filling. A great choice if grilled meats are part of your dinner.  ($37)

(95) Antonella Corda Vermentino 2019 (Italy)

Bright, fresh, clean: three simple words to describe a wine that is far from simple. Fermented and aged in steel, using indigenous yeast, the wine a brilliant straw yellow, with the slightest of green hints. The nose is an exquisite fusion of citrus, stone fruit and subtle herbs. Fermented and aged in steel, it is pure and focused. Stunning. ($21)

(94) Falchini Vernaccia Di San Gimignano 2019 (Italy)

From the hillside vineyards in Tuscany comes this beautifully crafted bottle of sunshine. Pale straw color with dazzling flavors of lemon zest, melon and sage blossom in the mouth. Finishing with a gentle hint of almond that looms in the background. Pairs well with shellfish, salads and hard cheeses. ($14.99)

(94) Elk Cove Willamette Valley Pinot Gris 2019 (OR)

Fresh, juicy pear, melon and crisp apple leap from the glass before landing playfully on the palate. Lively and refreshing, with a touch of orange peel on the endless finish. Textbook example of Oregon pinot gris. A gorgeous wine that would be welcome at any backyard barbeque. ($19.99)

(93) Despagne Biface Blanc 2019 (France)

Warm melon fruits as well as a mineral element, showing a plush mouthfeel and a hint of herbal notes, all give the wine depth. While there is a ripeness, there is also a wonderful acidity that gives gusto and texture. ($19.99) 

(93) Dubourdieu Liaison Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon 2019 (France)

A healthy mix between minerality, fresh fruit, bold pear and lime notes. With an impressive initial attack of fruit flavors, the succulent finish does not disappoint. ($19.99)

(93) Goose Ridge G3 Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (WA)

Exceptionally dark, bright ruby in the glass. On the nose, and in the mouth, the wine exhibits substantial quantities of black fruit, with dark herbal notes, and spice. It has excellent weight, with balancing acidity. The lengthy finish confirms the quality. A true bargain. ($15)

(93) Grey Rock Te Mana Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (New Zealand)

A pleasant, complex layered structure shows a multidimensional, tasty wine. Bursting with zesty citrus and grapefruit notes, while showing a finesse of minerality, acidity and body that grips your taste buds from top to bottom. ($24.99)

(93) 1858 Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (CA)

Jumping out of the glass, the nose fires off ripe lemon and peach notes that shine bright. These flavors continue to the palate, combining with acidity that provides a backbone for the flavor and lingering tasty finish. ($24.99)

(92) Samuel Roberts Pinot Noir 2019 (OR)

The wine is solid and stable, with plush and grippy texture through the finish. On the nose and palate, it is spirited and spicy, with cherry and plum flavors, succulent minerality and a robust flavor of citrus ($15.99)

(92) Verada Merlot Tri-County 2018 (CA)

This structured and powerful wine has a texture and elevated character to the fruit that gives this spirited wine a fresh approachable note. The blackberry, plum and dark cherry flavors add depth and a strong backbone to the wine. ($16.99)

(92) Courtney Benham Sauvignon Blanc Terroir 2020 (CA)

Charming notes of guava, citrus and honeysuckle are potent on the nose and palate; these are the stars of the show. A lightness and crisp acidity make this wine soft and powerful in all the right places. ($19.99)

(92) Aveleda Vinho Verde 2019 (Portugal)

Lemon, lime and a slight frizzante, and you’ve found the perfect warm-weather wine. Bright and fresh, screw off the top and enjoy. Low alcohol. Perfect for picnics and boat rides! ($8.95)

(92) Chateau Belingard Blanc 2020 (France)

Fully charged with fruit, this is a fresh crisp white Bergerac wine that is zippy and filled with apple and grapefruit flavors. There is a ripeness to the wine that rounds out the hard edges and opens it up. ($14.99)

(92) Chateau Montet Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (France)

With a gentle texture, ripe pear and peach notes light this wine up. Secondary notes of herbs and a zesty minerality lift the fruit to a balance that turns into a beautiful finish. ($14.99) 

(92) Chateau Roques Mauriac Blanc 2019 (France)

A rich style of wine with boldness of ripe stone fruits and smoothness on the palate. The wine is bright with acidity giving the ripe flavors structure and drawing out the finish. ($16.99) 

(92) Dubourdieu Pure Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (France)

Dynamic, citrus-focused with tense minerality over bright peach and melon. The wine has a fresh, light mid-palate and finish that pulls all the structure and flavors together. ($16.99) 

(92) Val Do Sosego Albarino 2020 (Spain)

Powerful and fresh, showing brightness and a savory finish that keeps the show going. Notes of melon and green apple balance for a memorable Rías Baixas wine with minerality and a punch of flavor. ($18.99)

Four Star Wines

(91) Kaleidoscope Red 2019 (CA)

A smooth texture with fresh, ripe strawberry and raspberry notes that are center stage and take over. Showing beautiful acidity and fruit-forward accents all the way through the nose and palate. ($14.99)

(91) Governors Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (New Zealand)

Tasty, vibrant, light in body, but big in flavor. Passion fruit-driven nose and palate. The zippy texture combines with the fruit notes and brings it all together. ($14.99)

(91) Cherchi Bellia Vermentino 2017 (Italy)

With all due respect to Tuscany, Sardinia is THE place for vermentino. Rocky, minerally soil and the surrounding Mediterranean create a succulent, full-bodied and crisp, citrusy palate. Grill up some fresh sardines with this one. ($22.95)

(91) Tomaiolo Pinot Grigio 2019 (Italy)

Great value here. This porch-pounder resembles some of the most famous Italian PGs, at a fraction of the price. Fruit flavors, ranging from melon to nectarine to citrus, are balanced by zippy acidity that keeps you going back for more. Clean and crisp on the finish. Very versatile for the table but makes me want sushi ($10.99).

(91) Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells Chardonnay 2018 (WA)

This chardonnay is beautifully balanced and elegant. Gentle layers of butter are intertwined with a slight pop of Granny Smith apple. The acidity is gentle, allowing a savory finish. ($19) BD

(91) Laudato Pinot Grigio 2020 (Italy)

Over-the-top clean, mineral-driven and laden with green apple, lemon and lime notes. The strong crisp texture is fresh and really defines this Venetian wine from the initial flavor to the finish. ($16.99) 

(91) Marchese di Borgosole Fiano 2019 (Italy)

A very aromatic wine with white flowers and peach notes on the nose. The peach notes remain on the palate with added pineapple flavors, a smooth texture for body, power and a long finish. ($12.99) 

(91) NeroOro Appassimento Nero d’Avola 2020 (Italy)

Fresh and spicy, with plum and blackberry notes on the nose and palate. The sweet tannins and acidity give this Sicilian wine an uplifting structure and make the flavors dance on the palate. ($12.99) 

(91) Mato Bay Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (New Zealand)

A sunny, passion fruit-driven wine that cuts across your nose and palate with plentiful citrus notes — all bound and enhanced with flashes of minerality and a light energetic texture — creating a balance of flavors that is interesting and tasty. ($12.99)

(91) Berrycream Rosé 2020 (CA)

With a raspberry/strawberry-centric nose and palate, this wine gets a sunny disposition from its clean texture and citrus flavors. The structure is fruity, juicy, and comes together as a fresh, approachable rich rosé. ($13.99)

(91) Solara Natural Amber 2019 (Romania)

This is a natural, orange, tannic white blend from the Banat region of Romania that is laced with stone fruits and herbal notes. The fresh fruit notes are given a complex edge and depth from the texture, grip and balance. ($9.99)

(90) Conscious Rosé 2020 (OR)

Refreshing and plush with strawberry, light cherry and watermelon notes, this Willamette rosé starts friendly and then shows a little depth in the fun. The bright texture has a power and playful character to it that cranks the flavors up a degree or two. ($11.99)

(90) L’Ecole Chenin Blanc 2019 (WA)

Light spice with a bit of floral leads to a stone finish that rivals the best from Loire or South Africa. A very versatile wine, perfect with spicy Asian and Indian cuisine. ($15.95)  BD

(90) Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir 2019 (OR)

Refreshing and energizing are the best way to describe this delicious pinot noir. There are bright pops of red cherry that give way to soft plum, all surrounded by vibrant acidity. Perfect for the lake or backyard. ($19)

If you’re a beverage professional with a specialty in wine and you’re interested in participating in the panel, please contact Editor Kyle Swartz at kswartz@epgmediallc.com or 763-383-4447.

Feature photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash.


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