Bright, Refreshing Summer Wines



Some summer wine recommendations.


By Louis Marmon


Washington Jewish Week  June 16, 2005


Rodney Strong ChardonnaySummer is the time to put away the heavy, winter wines and pick up wines appropriate for the warmer weather. Look for white wines that have bright flavors balanced with enough acid to make the wine crisp and refreshing so it pairs well with warm weather foods. Summer red wines should have great fruit flavors without a lot of complexity or power.


In spite of  Americans’ distinct lack of appreciation for fine roses, they are perfect summer wines. Made by allowing only a brief contact of the grape skins with the juice after pressing, rose is best served chilled and consumed within one to two years after bottling. They  pair well with foods such as roasted vegetables, grilled chicken and even pizza.


Try the Chateaux de Pourcieux Rose 2003 ($12) with rich raspberry notes. Produced in Chile, the Miguel Torres Cabernet Sauvignon Curico Rose Santa Dinga 2003 ($10) has spicy cherry and berry flavors. Also try the tangy cherry-flavored Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare ($11), the strawberry-flavored Domaine de Saint-Antoine Rose 2004 ($10), the Chateau Grande Cassagne Rose 2004 ($10) with great fruit flavors and balanced acidity as well as the strawberry and slightly herbal Commanderie de la Bargemone Rose 2003  ($14).


The Northwestern US has been producing excellent wines for decades. From Washington State try the Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling 2004 ($9) with its nice peach and apricot flavors. A joint venture of the Mosel’s Dr. Loosen and Chateaux Ste. Michelle is the excellent Eroica Riesling Dr. Loosen 2004 ($20) that is complex and refined with apricot and mineral notes.  Other good choices include the Columbia Crest Riesling 2004 ($8) with crisp peach and pear flavors and a nice finish, the Columbia Crest Gewürztraminer 2003 ($8) with soft almost sweet spice, lychee and citrus flavors and the Oak Knoll Pinot Gris 2003 ($10) with mineral, melon and apple notes.


A good summer wine for those who drink only Chardonnay is the lightly oaked Rodney Strong Sonoma Chardonnay 2003 ($15) with apple, lemon and pear flavors and nice acidity. A great value from California is the Dry Creek Chenin Blanc 2004 ($9) with grapefruit, apple and mineral notes. They also make the very good Dry Creek Fume Blanc 2003 ($13) that has passion fruit and grapefruit flavors, good balance and a medium finish. More complex and fuller in the mouth is their single-vineyard Dry Creek Estate Fume Blanc DCV3 ($25) with slightly herbal grapefruit flavors and soft acidity while the Dry Creek Valley Taylor’s Vineyard Sauvignon Musque 2003 ($25) has floral aromas with a buttery tropical fruit flavor and a nice finish. A good kosher choice is the Baron Herzog Chenin Blanc ($6) that has slightly sweet apple and grapefruit flavors.


Also from California is the peach-scented Gallo Sonoma Pinot Gris Reserve 2003 ($13) with citrus and pear notes. Produced at the property formerly owned by the actor Fred MacMurray, the MacMurray Ranch Pinot Gris 2004 ($13) has spicy apple, melon and fig flavors.  With a spicy-sweetness that makes it great to serve with Chinese food is the Chateau St. Jean Gewurztraminer 2004 ($11) which has pineapple and pear notes with a citrus finish.


Those who prefer red wines in the summer should consider chilling them slightly before serving. Try the Tohu Pinot Noir 2003 ($20) which is made from vineyards located in the Marlborough region of New Zealand at a winery owned by the indigenous Maori people. The wine is light weight with bright red cherry flavors and a nice soft finish.  Produced in South Africa the Kumkani Pinotage 2003 ($13) is slightly spicy with soft plum and subtle oak flavors that make it a good wine to serve with burgers off the grill. Worth hunting for is the Alamos Bonarda 2004 ($8) produced by Argentina’s Catena Zapata that has dark cherry and berry flavors with a pleasantly soft finish. Another good value is the Erath Pinot Noir 2003 ($15) that has spicy raspberry flavors and a sharp finish. From Israel try the Golan Mount Avital 2002 ($15) with deep cherry and plum flavors.



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