Summer in the Northwest means spending more time outdoors and cooking with regional ingredients. This is why we keep fresh white wines in the fridge and ready to open the moment we fire up the grill.
We look for white wines with bright acidity that not only will lift the flavors of the wine but also pair well with a wide variety of dishes. We're talking about seared scallops, halibut, salmon, mushroom dishes, grilled corn on the cob, linguine tossed with grilled vegetables, pesto pizza and steamed clams.
With that in mind, here are some delicious and affordable white wines we've tasted in recent weeks that will pair perfectly with your summer. Most of these wines have strong regional distribution, so ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.
Mercer Canyons 2011 Riesling, Yakima Valley, $13: The Mercer family has been farming in Washington for more than a century and has been in the wine grape business since the early 1970s. Now that it has a namesake winery in the Yakima Valley, it is able to take full advantage of its legacy and expertise. This opens with aromas of fresh-squeezed lemon, yellow grapefruit, slate, pear and Golden Delicious apple. It's beautiful on the entry, with crisp acidity rounded on the corners with just under 2 percent residual sugar. Flavors of lemon, lime, peach and apricot lead to a stunning finish. Buy this one by the case and enjoy all spring and summer.
House Wine 2012 Fish House Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, $10: If you haven't tried a Washington Sauvignon Blanc recently, here is a can't-miss version. It offers aromas of fresh lime, celery and grassiness, followed by refreshing flavors of lemon, orange and lime. It has terrific acidity that lifts the flavors all the way through.
Elk Cove Vineyards 2012 Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, $19: Elk Cove produces one of the Northwest's finest Pinot Gris, and this new release opens with aromas of pear, Golden Delicious apple, lime and clove. On the palate, it is loaded with flavors of ripe orchard fruit, especially pear and apple. The round midpalate is beautifully balanced with bright, right-on acidity. The finish is simply sublime.
Pine & Post 2010 Chardonnay, Washington, $7: This Chardonnay shows just enough oak to let you know it's there, yet not so much that it gets in the way of some terrific fruit. This opens with aromas of melon, citrus, butterscotch and pear. Bright acidity highlights the palate and flavors of pineapple, butterscotch candy and buttery notes. A richness on the palate gives way to a lengthy finish.
Pacific Rim Winemakers 2012 Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley, $10: Pacific Rim is best known as one of the top Riesling producers in the United States, but this is one of its rare non-Riesling bottlings. It opens with aromas of fresh cane sugar, pear and dried apple, followed by flavors of apricot, cardamom and lemon curd all backed with a hint of residual sugar.
Convergence Zone Cellars 2012 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Drizzle, Red Mountain, $19: Pinot Gris is a bit of a rare grape on Washington's Red Mountain, where hot temperatures and high land prices are more conducive to red wine grapes. However, this treat from Convergence Zone Cellars in Woodinville might have some rethinking that strategy. It opens with aromas of nectarine, pear and lime, followed by explosive flavors of grapefruit, peach and crisp apple. It has great balance and delicious length.
Waterbrook Winery 2011 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $12: This Chardonnay will appeal to those who love the big, buttery, California-style wines. It opens with rich aromas of oak, butter rum candy and spice, along with an unexpected hint of minerality. On the palate, it offers flavors of pear, lemon oil, brioche and banana chips.
Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman run Great Northwest Wine. Go to www.greatnorthwestwine.com.