by Scott Greenberg, Special to WTOP.com
Memorial Day kicks off the beginning of the summer season in Washington - but I don't stand on ceremony, so I won't be putting away either the blue blazer or the red wines.
The 2009 Monte Velho from the Alentejano region of Portgual is made from the three local white wine varieties, Roupeiro, Antao Vaz and Perrum. Vinified without oak, this refreshing wine has good balance between the flavors of tropical fruit, nectarine and citrus and the abundant acidity, which keeps the bright flavors fresh and the finish crisp. Great with grilled seafood. $10.
For a summer red, many people might go with the obvious choice, pinot noir, but I am picking the 2008 Castillo Labastida Madurado from Rioja, Spain. This is a 100% estate bottled Tempranillo that spends just 4 months aging in oak barrels - enough to give the juicy black cherry fruit, plums and licorice flavors a chance to mellow and meld with the refreshing acidity. The touch of vanilla on the bright finish is just enough. $13.
Nothing beats the heat like a well-chilled Rose wine - and the one I plan on chilling out with this summer is the 2010 Robert Oatley Rose of Sangiovese from the Mudgee region of Australia. The grapes are harvested at night and kept cool. The juice is immediately bled off the skins to give the wine a pale pink color. Made on the drier side, this rosé features refreshing notes of watermelon and wild strawberry up front and a touch of citrus flavors on the crisp, tangy finish. All it needs is a hammock. $12.
Here's a white wine blend that hits all of the high notes for relief on a hot day. The 2009 Clif Bar "The Climber," White Blend from California is a blend of sauvignon blanc, pinot blanc, chenin blanc and muscat and the combination delivers a wonderful bouquet of tropical fruit, honeysuckle and citrus. The layers of pear, white nectarine and peach flavors in the mouth is kept light and in balance with loads of crisp acidity. A twinge of sweetness on the lengthy finish adds just the right touch and makes this wine a good choice for either an aperitif or a match with sesame noodle salad. $14.