Our Wine Panel Reviews Spring and Summer Wines

wine reviews spring summer wines beverage dynamics magazine

For our next wine panel, we asked panelists to taste and rate spring and summer wines. These can be any style and from anywhere in the world, so long as they fit the warmer seasons.

As always, these selections include tasting notes, a rating and the wine’s retail price (which can vary from store to store and market to market). Unless noted otherwise, prices reflect a 750-ml. bottle. If you are a beverage professional with a specialty in wine who is interested in participating in the panel, please contact Editor Kyle Swartz at 763-383-4447, or email him at kswartz@epgacceleration.com.

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.


(97) J. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay 2021 (CA)

Winemaker Kristen Barnhisel continues to refine her stellar varietal. More complexity is reflected in her use of now 10 different clones. Barrel-fermented for seven to nine months in oak, with 62% malolactic fermentation. Rich texture and balanced acidity. Wonderful notes of orange and lemon add to hazelnut and baking spice aromas. Perfect with creamy shrimp and mushroom pasta! ($14)


(97) Herdade do Rocim Fresh from Amphora 2023 (Portugal)

Clean, bright and focused, the wine has a slight green tint, with lots of focused tree fruit on the nose and palate. Produced in amphorae, the wine is lovely, elegant and an excellent value. ($23.99 per 1-L bottle.)

(96) Alexander Valley Vineyards Chardonnay 2021 (CA)

Russian River sourcing in the Alexander Valley establishes the starting point for this classic chardonnay. Night harvesting, 70% stainless-steel initial fermentation followed by 30% oak fermentation and a touch of viognier help to create a rich, full-bodied wine with bright acidity. Classic apple, vanilla and pear notes dominate. An elegant addition to a classic picnic lunch. ($21.99)

(96) DeLille Cellars Chaleur Blanc 2021 (WA)

With 67% sauvignon blanc and 33% semillon, this Bordeaux blend is packed with lush fruit. White peach, apricot, fig and melon blossom in the mouth, showing great length. Six months of French oak give a light, creamy mouthfeel. A pristine wine that is sure to please. ($35)

(95) Trouchard Roussane 2021 (CA)

An inviting wine with expressive floral, ripe honeydew and peach aromas. Rich and full in the mouth, with layers of apricot, pineapple and mango, while showing a dazzling hint of fig on the long, luxurious finish. ($30)

(95) Fratelli Barbera 2021 (Italy)

Fresh aromas of sun-warmed earth, with soft plums. Light in body with notes of leather, ripe cherries and soft plums, just a touch of almost-integrated tannin, with an easy finish. There is a good amount of fruit, but just enough acid to remind you that this is an affordable Old World wine. ($13)

(95) Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs Rosé NV (CA)

From one of the region’s pioneers in fine sparkling wine production, the delicate berry fruit defines both the balanced nose and flavors. The effervescence is nicely persistent, and the finish is quite long. ($28)

(95) 2021 Attems Pinot Grigio Ramato (Italy)

This is NOT your ordinary Pinot Grigio. The color is an intense, deeper pink, reflecting the color of the grapes. Much better structure than the majority of PGs out there, this could be a revelation for your customers. ($20)

(95) Di Giovanna 2020 (Italy)

The color is a very pale gold, with some straw hints. The nose and taste are dominated by the lovely citrus/tree fruit aspects of the wine. Elegant and versatile; a great pairing with a wide range of seafood and other dishes. ($39.99)

(95) LVE Rosé 2021 (France)

Legend Vineyard Exclusive (LVE) is a unique collaboration between pop icon John Legend and JC Boisset. Sourcing the southern French region of Languedoc to blend primarily grenache (57%), syrah, cinsault and carignan. Clay, sandstone and limestone soils offer unique characteristics, and the grapes are vinified separately in addition to the use of only free-run and first-press juice to add to the complexity. All stainless steel for fermentation and aging enhances the freshness of the fruit. Pale pink color leads to fresh raspberry, strawberry and granny smith apple flavors. A great reminder of how good a classic French rosé can be. ($24.99)

(94) JCB No. 69 Brut Rosé NV (France)

From the Boisset collection comes this remarkable sparkling. A short maceration of pinot (saignée) creates the beautiful rose hue. Light-hearted in style with great acidity. Raspberry and strawberry notes evolve in a fresh jammy style. No. 69? A refection of freedom, exploration and the birth year for Mr. Boisset himself! Perfect celebration for any day ending in “Y.” ($24.99)

(94) Chateau de Pierreux 2020 (France)

Opening with a wonderful nose of fresh flowers and plums. Bright cherries and blueberries dance on the palate before giving way to a lush finish with ripe plum notes and delicate tannins. A truly beautiful wine that overdelivers at its price point. ($30)

(94) McPherson Cellars Albariño 2022 (TX)

An excellent example of correct varietals for the soil/climate in the Texas High Plains. McPherson was one of the pioneers of adapting lesser grapes from Italy, France and Spain, and giving them an opportunity to shine in the Texas sun. All stainless steel in fermenting and aging allows the minerality and natural fruit flavors of bananas, citrus and melon to shine in a creamy lingering finish. ($13.99)

(94) La Cana Albariño 2020 (Spain)

This is a tropical fruit salad in a glass. Fresh aromas of honeysuckle, with light floral aromas. Dry on the palate, with medium body, tastes of citrus rind, green apple and white peaches. Finish is quite lengthy. This is begging for a Spanish charcuterie plate. ($19)

(94) Masera Gavi Le Terre di Stefano Massone 2021 (Italy)

This wine has fresh fruit aromas, which start to draw you in from the moment you open it. It is dry with a decent amount of non-aggressive acidity. It is lively on the tip of your tongue with lingering bell pepper, dried pineapple and citrus. Great “by-the-glass” at your home, all summer long. ($15)

(94) Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (New Zealand)

Fresh and youthful aromas that one would expect from Marlborough. Pink grapefruit, mango and kiwi on the nose and on the palate. The wine is dry, with moderate palate-cleansing acidity. Additional citrus notes (and maybe a little green apple) on the finish. ($15)

(94) Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio Porer 2021 (Italy)

Ripe tropical fruit notes billow from the glass. No shortage of luscious fruit here. Fuji apple, ruby grapefruit and nectarine flavors mingle wonderfully, leading to a mouthwatering finish kissed with a squeeze of lime. Rich and complex, this wine is in a class all by itself. ($30)

(93) 1858 Chardonnay Monterey 2021 (CA)

From the Wagner Family, creators of Caymus, this wine is a lovely golden yellow color which hints at the oak aging with pops of tropical fruits on the nose. Nice weight on the palate. Notes of golden apple and pineapple that balances out the touch of butter. ($29.99)

(93) Decoy Limited Chardonnay 2020 (CA)

With this release, Decoy sharpens the focus on site selection, with grapes from the Russian River, Carneros and Petaluma Gap appellations. Cool-climate grapes are the key to success with chardonnay, and this example excels. 50/50% oak and stainless fermentation yields a very balanced product with great acidity. Soft butter tones complement almond, vanilla and apple notes. Wonderful aperitif wine on the patio. ($29.99)

(92) Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (New Zealand)

No doubt on the sourcing for this classic NZ sauvignon blanc. Mature fruit (16 to 40-year-old vines), slow cold fermentation, 100% stainless steel and multiple vineyard sources all add up to a complex and vibrant wine. Classic pink grapefruit notes add to hints of basil and strong minerality. Springtime in a glass! ($19.99)

(92) Rockview Reserve Chardonnay 2021 (CA)

The wine opens up with aromas of butterscotch and oak that continue onto the palate, but it is less buttery than your nose would have you think. Bright green apple and tropical fruits like melon greatly balance out the oak on this wine. ($27.99)


(91) Forever Vineyards Pinot Noir 2021 (CA)

Another great for the value pinot noir from Forever Vineyards. Comparable to last year’s vintage, as it still has a lighter-body style featuring cherries, bruised blackberries and huckleberries on the palate. Great for charcuterie boards or picnics! ($16.99)

(91) King Maui Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (New Zealand)

Great example of an elevated sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. Lemongrass and lime zest notes on the nose that continue through to the palate, with a tart melon addition. ($19.99)

(91) Alexander Valley Vineyards Alexander School Reserve Primitivio 2019 (CA)

Winemaker Kevin Hall returns to his “laboratory” and his penchant for unique offerings. This very-limited (only 277 half cases) bottling utilizes primitivo first planted in 2000. Genetic analysis for U.C. Davis established the DNA link to California zinfandel from the Italian primitivo grape. Ten percent zin was added to the final blend, which aged for 20 months in American oak. Very rich and full bodied, with almost-port notes to start, and moving then to plum, black pepper and licorice flavors. ($49.99)

(91) 2020 Radius Red Blend 2020 (WA)

Dark purple color and baked strawberry and cherry notes on the nose. This would be a great spring/summer patio companion with a slight chill on it. Bright tart strawberries on the finish make this a fun food-pairing wine too. ($16.99)

(91) Kia Ora Signature Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (New Zealand)

Floral aromas like apricot blossoms with a hint of tart candy lend to this wine’s bracing acidity upon entry. Strong lime and citrus notes give it the signature sauvignon blanc feel, without being overly tangy. ($19.99) BD

(90) Blue Canyon Chardonnay 2021 (CA)

Very mellow wine, with green apple and melon notes, smoothed out by a buttery, almost yogurt-like nose. This would please chardonnay drinkers at any get-together. ($15.99)

(90) Cooper Station Pinot Noir 2021 (CA)

Lighter body style: this could use a slight chill on it for warmer weather. Baked raspberries with touches of cedar and eucalyptus on the nose and palate make this a more complex example of pinot noir at this price point. ($16.99)

(90) All Kings Brut Classic (CA)

Pale yellow in color. Notes of almond and yeast on the nose, with fresh cantaloupe, pear and apple notes that complement the delicate but crisp bubbles. ($14.99)

(90) All Queens Rose Brut (CA)

This sparkling wine has a delightful acidic pop in the front of the palate, with fresh cherries and watermelon that mellows out through the finish. ($14.99)

(90) Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes Du Rhone 2021 (France)

Presents with a nose showing pepper and perfume with hints of rosemary and mint. Lush cherry, raspberry, strawberry and nectarine offer up a lively palate perfect for a summer barbecue. ($14)

(90) San Gregorio La Muela 2021 (Spain)

A complex white blending citrus, passion fruit, banana, peach and pear. Perfectly balanced with just the right amount of acid. Partner it with a seafood paella. ($13)

(90) J. Lohr Bay Mist White Riesling 2022 (CA)

Perfect addition to the patio lineup. Sustainably grown in J. Lohr’s sweet spot for their white wine program. On paper, the perfect aperitif wine: under 90 calories, lower alcohol (12.5% ABV), 4.8 carbs, convenient screw cap — all in a visually beautiful package. Kristen Barnhisel as winemaker has crafted a classic dry riesling with hints of pear, apple and white chocolate. Great when paired with classic Asian dumplings ($12.99)

(89) Charles de Fere Reserve Blanc de Blanc Brut NV (France)

A classic sparkler from the extensive Boisset portfolio. Crafted in Burgundy with the best grapes sourced from diverse appellations, the house blend of ugni blanc, colombard, chenin blanc and chardonnay varies from year to year to maintain this classic style. Produced in the traditional method and aged for 12 months. Tiny fine bubbles with almond and white fruit notes. An excellent value. ($15.99)

(89) Domaine Bousquet Sauvignon Blanc 2021 (Argentina)

Vinified from an organic estate and purchased fruit, creating an exuberant and fresh wine. Lime and apple predominant, with a touch of tropical on the nose. No oak, just clean and delicious. ($12.95)

Want more reviews? Our wine panels in the past year have included:

Feature photo by Celina Albertz on Unsplash.


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