Summer Wine Selections
As central Texas’s thermometer starts its annual push into the 90’s, my thoughts turn to crisp and refreshing wines that provide a cool contrast to these scorching days. If you’re looking for some new options for icing down in your wine bucket this summer, read on…
It’s a pretty safe bet that if you open my fridge in the summer, there will be a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc chilling inside. It’s my go-to choice when the temperatures rise because it’s unfailingly crisp and delicious.
Chile has recently been making tasty Sauv Blancs which are a good value for stocking up as your “house wine” this summer. For a zestier flavor, and more varying price points, look to the Marlborough region of New Zealand. You can also find some very lovely – and sometimes quite expensive – Sauvignon Blanc wines from Sancerre, which is located in the Loire Valley of France.
Lately I find myself stocking the fridge with a few bottles of Sauvignon Blanc from Casa Lapostolle – the Chilean producer founded by part of the famous French family that makes Grand Marnier – for around $10 a bottle.
As I noted in my entry on visiting Napa Valley, one of my favorite summer wines is Chappellet’s Chenin Blanc. Chenin Blanc tends to be a tad sweeter than Sauvignon Blanc, but still has that mouthwatering acidity and citrusy flavors that make for good summer sipping. Wines produced in Vouvray, which is in the Loire Valley, are typically Chenin Blanc and quite delicious. In South Africa, Chenin Blanc (which is also called Steen) is one of the most widely planted grapes in the country, and there are some excellent wines at reasonable prices coming out of the country, particularly from the Stellenbosch region.
When some folks think of rosé wines, they remember a White Zinfandel that was cloyingly sweet and ridiculously cheap. Do not fear the pink wine, friends! Rosé wines have largely nixed their syrupy sweetness in favor of more refreshing flavors with hints of ripe strawberries or juicy watermelons.
Try a rosé from France’s Tavel region—the most famous region in France for dry rosé wines – and buy the most recent vintage you can find. Or look for one from France’s up-and-coming Bandol region, as many of these wines are as tasty as those produced in Tavel, but can be purchased at a fraction of the price.
The wizards who are making some of the world’s best Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley of Oregon are also producing some lovely rosés from those same magical grapes. Although these wines can be difficult to find, as production runs tend to be smaller than for a winery’s flagship Pinot Noirs, some are available through local distributors, so if you see one in the store, snap it up! You can also purchase directly from the winery. For example, you can purchase Ponzi Vineyards’ rosé direct from the winery for $18 a bottle.
My last recommendation is a bit obscure, but definitely delicious. Muscadet wines are produced in the Loire Valley of France in an area that’s very close to the ocean. (Don’t confuse Muscadet with Muscat, a sweet dessert wine.) The grape used to make Muscadet is called Melon de Bourgogne, but in true French style, the grape varietal is not printed on the label.
Muscadet is light and crisp, but what makes it special is the touch of salinity – yes, that’s a fancy word for “salty taste” – in the wine. This makes Muscadet and any type of seafood the best of friends.
A Muscadet labeled Sur Lie means that the wine was aged “on the lees.” The lees are the spent yeast cells, which are a by-product of the fermentation process, and aging “on the lees” imparts a rich flavor of nuts or fresh-baked bread to the wine. And best of all, Muscadets are usually pretty easy on the wallet. A few weeks ago, I grabbed a bottle of Domaine Saint Martin for around $11.
For a more personal recommendation or if you know your friends read this blog, too, and you want to impress them with a more unique summer wine, contact me for more help.
Now, go slather on the sunscreen, slip on the flip-flops…and fetch the corkscrew and the ice bucket. Summer is here!