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Aromatic White Wines That Overdeliver

Wine communicator Penny Sadler suggests three wines that are perfect for summer

Jeff Siegel By June 1, 2021
Photo illustration of wine communicator Penny Sadler with images of white flowers and wine bottles in the background.
Photo illustration by Allison Kahler.

Five years ago, Dallas’s Penny Sadler’s business took her to a variety of the world’s great wine regions and vineyards. But, something was missing.

“I liked wine, but I didn’t know very much about it,” she says, “so I was visiting all these wonderful places, and I wanted to know more about what was going on.”

She earned her WSET Level 2 Award and worked extensively in wine marketing, while she continued working as a professional makeup artist, her original career. Today, Sadler operates the website Adventures of a Carry-On, which focuses on wine, wine travel, and wine photography. She has a particular love for aromatic whites, with their heady aromas of flowers and fruit.

On her wine journey, Sadler learned how to sip and spit, what she says was key to a successful career in wine.

“I like wine tasting, and I like tasting wine,” she says. “And sipping and spitting allows me to taste wine without worry. It was a life changer for me.”

Here are three white wines Penny Sadler wants to share:

bottle of Stemmari White Blend Dalila Riserva Sicily 2016

Stemmari White Blend Dalila Riserva Sicily 2016 ($18)

This Italian white blend from Sicily combines Grillo, one of the region’s traditional grapes, with the French grape Viognier. The result, says Sadler, is an affordable white that features Grillo’s trademark white flower and jasmine aromas, coupled with Vigonier’s ripe stone fruits. Equally as impressive, she says, is that the wine is fruity, with plenty of ripe pear notes, but still with great acidity. “This wine makes me smile,” she says. “Where else are you going to find this quality in this style for less than $20?”

bottle of Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2019

Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2019 ($20)

Oregon is best known for Pinot Noir, but it also produces some of the most interesting and distinctive Pinot Gris in the world. It’s a much fruitier style than Italy’s Pinot Grigio, which is the same grape by another name, and offers different aromatics than the Pinot Gris of Alsace. “I love a Pinot Gris that offers this kind of approach, and especially at less than $20,” says Sadler. This version has fewer lime characteristics — on the nose and on the palate — than some Oregon Pinot Gris. It has aromas of pear and lemon, while the palate offers stone fruits, more lemon, and even some melon. The wine finishes with lots of minerality, another Oregon Pinot Gris trait. “When you can find aromatic wines of this quality, it makes you think again about why and how you like wine,” says Sadler.

bottle of Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2019

Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2019 ($22)

Loveblock comes from legendary New Zealand winemaker Kim Crawford, who started it in 2004, a year after he sold the wine company bearing his name. “I like this first because of the aromatics,” says Sadler, noting its ripe peach and a hint of sweetgrass, leading to flavors of ripe tropical fruit, like pineapple and guava. “I also like this because it’s not that easy to find a Sauvignon Blanc with both ripe fruit notes and great acidity, but this wine has both.” It also matters to Sadler that the wine, from the Marlborough region, uses sustainably grown grapes, which are certified organic.