Column: Inviting, affordable and informal wines

Affordable white wines for informal spring and summer events.

Today we discover three affordable whites that are perfect for informal occasions for your spring or summer enjoyment. And all of them are available at any liquor store in Richmond BC.

The first is Gehringer Frères 2021 Old Auxerre Vines ($15.95; 88 points, Very Good). Many BC wine consumers have never tried it before, although it has been around since quality wines were first produced in our province in the 1990s. Auxerrois is a grape traditionally planted in Alsace, Germany, Luxembourg.

Gehringer Brothers is one of the premier family wineries in the Okanagan. Located in the Golden Mile Bench south of Oliver, brothers Walter and Gordon made their first vintage in 1985 and have since won 92 Platinum awards for their dedication to excellence.

Gehringer Auxerrois is not an overdone fruit bomb. Instead, it’s a mellow wine that’s great to sip when you’re in a sweet mood. With discreet aromas straight out of the Okanagan with orchard fruits such as apples, pears and peaches. The palate reveals ripe, chewy melons, a hint of honey, subtle acidity with a dry mouthfeel ending on a touch of sweetness. The Gehringers suggest: “This is a wine to serve when you are not sure of your preference. In other words, Auxerrois is worth trying because it is unique. And it was also well received by local wine judges. The 2020 vintage won the gold medal at the last Cascadia Wine Competition in Washington State.

Gehringer Auxerrois goes deliciously with scallops wrapped in bacon, mussels in cream, a grilled chicken sandwich or a tuna salad.

Head to Catalonia and taste one of Spain’s most popular Familia Torres wines. The Torres 2020 Vina Emerald ($17.49; 89 points, very good) is a vegan off-dry aromatic white. Its name refers to the emerald green color of the Mediterranean and is a medium-light blend of Gewurztraminer and Muscat (Muscatel de Alejandria). The nose has the grapefruit and lychee aromas of gewürztraminer, as well as the fragrant ripe flavors of roses, peaches and melon of muscat. Balanced with medium acidity, it ends with a honeyed tangerine finish.

Vina Esmeralda is a pleasant drink, especially if the sun is out and you’re outdoors bonding with friends and Mother Nature. Great with Miss Vickie’s Original Recipe Kettle Pot Potato Chips; the salt in the fries seems to give the wine a boost!

A more Spanish match would be with sizzling garlic prawns and a smoked paprika tapa. You could make an international deal if you serve this Spanish white with Greek calamari. Or enjoy a burrata summer salad with fresh tomatoes and basil, peaches and vibrant lemon and thyme oil. This essential aperitif for spring and summer contains fresh and rich components, just like the fresh and opulent Vina Esmeralda.

Finally, we travel to South Africa and uncork the Protea 2020 Chenin Blanc ($14.99; 89 points, Very Good). Chenin Blanc is the most planted grape variety in Cape Town.

The brand of wine is named after Protea, a flowering plant common in South Africa and which happens to be the national flower. Slightly lemony in appearance, Chenin Blanc has a generous nose of flowers and tree fruits with aromas of quince, honeysuckle, pear, melon and ginger. It’s tangy and very crunchy which balances the ripe fruit. The wine spent two months on its lees in stainless steel tanks to deliver a creamy texture with a dry citrus and spice finish.

Protean Chenin Blanc is delicious with pulled pork, coleslaw and crispy pepper chips. Salads with chicken or ham or those containing apples or pears are worth trying. And tuna or salmon tartare, fish and chips, salt and pepper calamari would be the cherished companions of our South African Chenin Blanc.

Now it’s your turn to discover these inviting, affordable and informal white wines!

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