Holden is the rare Oregon wine brand drawing more praise for white wine than red. Holden's 2014 Johan Vineyard Chardonnay by winemaker Sterling Whitted was a standout—one of the best Oregon wines I tasted last year. This season's Holden white edition is another uncorker.
The 2015 release of Whitted's Layne Vineyard Vermentino ($20) is from one of the original vineyards planted in Southern Oregon's Applegate Valley. Fans of dead-dry, steely, sugar-free white wines should look elsewhere. This bottle is a jam jar of fresh lychee, juicing oranges, Grandma's ambrosia, and tutti frutti. A vinification process that's low on sulfur and long on gross lees aging helps lend a wildflower honey complexity and golden color, and it finishes clean, easy-drinking and fresh. Holden Vermentino tastes like Oregon springtime in a bottle. Better yet, keep it in the fridge to celebrate the first officially hot day of 2017.