by Jenny Benzie, Advanced Sommelier + Certified Wine Educator, Proprietress of Épernay Wine & Spirits
Warmer temperatures, longer beach days, and refreshingly chilled wines…summer is just around the corner, as well as transitioning to easy drinking, every-day-style wines that are light on the palate and the pocket. Summer entertaining, whether at Cisco Beach or your own backyard, doesn’t have to be complicated or costly. The best value wines for summer sipping are often not your usual grape varietal suspects, or at least not from typical wine regions that are foremost in your mind. No need to be concerned about making the wrong selection in this category, however, as I offer a quick list of wines worthy of your attention this time of year.
RED, RED WINE (THINK UB40)
Keeping with the spirit of this aptly named song, forget about heavy tannic, full-bodied red wines for now. Concentrate on red grape varietals that have a thinner skin and therefore will create a softer, more approachable style wine that will taste even better with a slight chill on them. Don’t be afraid to put your red wine in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes before serving it in order to reduce the temperature of the wine just a few degrees.
SIETE RED, RIOJA 2015 (Certified Organic Wine)
This crafty wine was conceived combining cultivation and innovation from Tempranillo grapes, with a touch of Garnacha (Grenache) and Mazuelo (aka Carignan). These thin-skinned grapes are the backbone of this picturesque region, while this is typical of what you will find in a blended wine from this region. A beautiful red cherry color invites you to smell the pleasant freshness of this ready to drink wine. On the palate, this wine is young and fleshy, with moderate acidity and non-apparent alcohol. Perfect pairing with your favorite gourmet pizza of choice!
MAISON L’ENVOYE MORGON ‘CÔTE DU PY’ 2015
This beautiful wine whose name translates to House of the Messenger sings of its origins from the Beaujolais region of France. Made from 100% Gamay Noir (a close relative of Pinot Noir), this small production wine comes from not only one of the top CRUS (designated classifications) of this region, but also from the most-famed single vineyard in the area. Raspberry, dark red fruit characters on the nose with a hint of orange rind, the deeply layered palate is smooth and seamless. It is so refreshing and tasty, it makes you feel as if you are drinking grape Kool-Aid for adults.
WHITE WINE IN THE SUN
When you mention summer sippers, most people would naturally think of a crisp, delightful white wine. They pair well with afternoon snacks and pretty much any seafood combo platter you could ever think of. Moderate to high acidity with a blast of ripe fruit, no oak and a lengthy finish – sounds like a home run of a wine for these days.
VIÑA CASABLANCA, ‘NIMBUS’ SAUVIGNON BLANC, VALLE DE CASABLANCA, CHILE 2015
Named Nimbus in reference to the clouds that cover the valleys of Chile, this Sauvignon Blanc comes from the western most part of the cool climate Casablanca Valley. The granite soil where the grapes are grown produces a similar mineral component that is often found in the white wines of the Sancerre region of France. Hints of grapefruit and passionfruit are accompanied by intense acidity, mineral notes and long, persistent finish. This wine is sure to quench any thirst created by a long day on the water.
MARCHESI DI BAROLO GAVI, ITALY 2015
The historic winery is an icon in the Barolo village of Piedmont, Italy, having dated back hundreds of years as wine growers and producers. Small amounts of white wine are made in this well-known red wine region. Flavors of golden apple, almonds and chamomile, the apparent acidity on this wine is balanced with the weight and texture also found on the palate. This wine made from 100% Cortese is ideal for salads, light pasta dishes and mild cheeses.
SAVING THE BEST WINE FOR LAST
Nantucket’s favorite sip of summer is undoubtedly Rosé. And what better way to ease on into the summer than with a couple of selections that stand out from the crowd in this category.
#LOU BY CHATEAU PEYRASSOL, CÔTES DE PROVENCE 2016
Most avid rosé drinkers are familiar with Chateau Peyrassol’s more gastronomic wine, along with their every day slightly fruitier styled Commanderie de Peyrassol. Now they have available their newest offering named #LOU. Not only is it a screw-top for easy access, the pedigree of this wine is apparent in it’s moderate acidity, non-overpowering fruit characteristics and ease of drinking at the beach on a hot summer’s day.
HUBER ZWIEGELT ROSÉ, TRAISENTHAL, AUSTRIA 2015
For a wine selection off the beaten path, look no further than Austria for your next rosé adventure. Winemaker Markus Huber is paving the way not only for the success and acknowledgement of his family’s winery, but also to make known the incredible wines of the not-so-well-known, very small wine region of which he hails. This strawberry, slightly watermelon scented wine is made from the grape Zwiegelt. This wine never ceases to impress even the toughest of rosé connoisseurs.
A quick list such as this will be sure to guide you in the right direction (in wine, at least!) for getting your summer celebratory wines in order just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Here’s to toasting the red, white and pink!