Sip on crisp wines and other refreshing offerings this season
Summer is here, and the sun is shining longer through the day. Temperatures are rising, and it is more common to drink white wines than reds to cool us off. But there are some of us who will be grilling red meat outdoors with the extended hours of light, not to mention that the college football tailgate season will be upon us before we know it. For all these occasions, I’ve selected a mixed case of goodies that will help to quench your thirst and pique your interest through the summer.
If you’re like me, you like to start dinner with Champagne. My summer Champagne is the NV Pol Roger Brut ($69). This Champagne is a stately and rich combination of freshly baked bread, sweet-smelling citrus and lemongrass. It attacks your palate with an intensely vibrant panoply of citrus fruit, toast points, minerals and key lime pie. This is Champagne with terrific breed and pedigree.
If Champagne is too dry for you, you must try the NV Villa Sandi Extra Dry Prosecco ($20). Don’t be fooled by the moniker of Extra Dry – this is actually fruitier and a bit sweeter than Brut Champagne. It has a very floral component, as well as nectarine and peach flavor. It is soft and very easy to drink both in the sun and in the shade. This is a wonderful thirst quencher.
Whether you like sweet wines yourself or buy them for your wife, these two wines will make her smile. And when she’s happy, we’re all happy, right? The 2008 Tintero Moscato d’Asti “Gramela” ($13) is a gentle sparkling white wine that has an exuberant aroma of grapes, peaches, pears, lilac and tuberoses. It is sweet but not too sweet, super light, subtly effervescent and just plain juicy. I guarantee the ladies will love this one.
Another super-sipper is 2007 August Kesseler “R” Riesling ($16). This delicious Riesling grown in rocky slate soils is brimming with nectarine, peaches, apricot and Granny Smith apples. It is sweet and vivacious – just like your wife or girlfriend will be after drinking a bottle of it.
OK, so you don’t drink sweet wines. Chardonnay drinkers will delight in the 2007 Evening Lands Seven Springs “La Source” Chardonnay ($89) from Oregon. Without any shred of hyperbole, I will admit that when I first tasted this wine, I thought it was the best Chardonnay from Oregon I had ever tasted – and maybe even the best in the whole New World. It has a stunning array of perfectly ripe fruit, pinpoint balance and a sweet minerality akin to Burgundy. Excellent!
Some would say the perfect wine for summer is a dry rose. A brand new release in Hawaii is the 2007 Le Poussin Rose ($13) made by Sacha Lichine in the Languedoc, France. This has a very “pretty” nose of freshly cut flowers, light berries and citrus peels.
It is quite gulp-able, with a hint of watermelon on the finish. Another terrific summer rose is the 2007 Scherrer Dry Rose ($15) of Pinot Noir from Sonoma. This one has even more sweet raspberry and strawberry fruit flavor, with a refreshing zing of acidity that makes it a natural pair with seafood, shellfish and bouillabaisse.
A light red wine might sound like an oxymoron, but they become more popular as the heat of summer starts to swell. One that I have found more than enjoyable is the 2007 Nicole Chanrion Cote de Brouilly ($20). This Cru Beaujolais is the epitome of grace and elegance. It has a seductive nose of sweet fruit punch, bubblegum, savory spices and blackberries. It welcomes your palate with a gush of berry flavor and a round, soft texture and lingering finish. Nicole really has a touch with this wine.
And for you pinot noir fanatics, I’m going to make a mountain out of an anthill. The 2007 Anthill Farms Tina Marie Vineyard Pinot Noir ($49) is a hedonistic pleasure, filled with bright cherry fruit, sandalwood spices and potpourri in the nose. The palate has plenty of sex appeal, with a silky texture and an intensely concentrated red berry flavor.
And finally for the “real” (read, “heavy”) red wine drinker, you will be amazed by the depths of flavor in the 2005 Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon ($100). This is truly one of Australia’s great Cabernets and something that would measure up to a second-growth Bordeaux (usually almost twice the price) with ease. Blackberry, sweet vanillin spices, currants, black cherries and a thick, dense flavor profile make this a “big red” wine-drinker pleaser.
And when nothing but a great syrah, replete with black stone fruits, earth and masculinity will satisfy your thirst, the 2006 Auguste Clape Cornas ($99) is just that wine. Bacon fat, smoke, tobacco leaf, blackberry and mouth-coating richness all flow from a glass of this bad boy.