Wine suggestions for the last days of summer.
By Louis Marmon
Gazette Newspapers August 20, 2008
Wines with vibrant fruit flavors and refreshingly brisk acidity are ideal choices for these last days of warmer weather.
Roses are perfect examples. From Oregon, the delicious, cinnamon-scented Soter Pinot Noir Rose 2007 ($20), with strawberry and cherry flavors, is crafted with a little Pinot Gris and Chardonnay to give it a bit more body. It remains supple enough to work well with typical summer fare. Another excellent choice is the most recent vintage of Etude Carneros Pinot Noir Rose 2007 ($15) that has watermelon, orange and strawberry flavors with a hint of spice.
From France’s Provence region, the lovely Commanderie de la Bargemone 2007 ($14) is just the thing for sipping beside the pool. The blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Carignan has floral aromas, tart red berry, orange zest and cherry flavors and a long finish. A real value is the tasty Spanish Marques de Caceres Rioja Rose 2007 ($8) with red cherry, tangerine and peach notes.
Sauvignon Blancs are a perennial summer favorite. A pleasant grassiness is apparent in both the melon and green-apple flavored Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc 2006 ($18) and the Souverain Sauvignon Blanc 2007 ($16) that also has crisp grapefruit, pineapple and mango flavors. Gooseberry predominates in the Seven Terraces Sauvignon Blanc 2006 ($12), along with guava, peach and pear notes.
Other pleasing summer white wines include the Chateau Ste. Michelle Pinot Gris 2007 ($15), with tangy pear and spicy citrus flavors along with a slightly sweet finish, and the J Wine Company Pinot Gris 2007 ($18), with spicy peach, pear and apple flavors, great balance and a lengthy finish. The unoaked value-priced White Truck Chardonnay 2007 ($9) is also slightly sweet, with its lime, melon and peach notes.
To accompany grilled steaks and burgers, try the Gallo Family Vineyards Syrah Sonoma Reserve 2005 ($15) with spicy toffee and earthy dark fruit flavors or the J Lohr Syrah Paso Robles South Ridge 2005 ($15) that has more noticeable red fruit along with pepper and smoke at the end. Another reasonably priced flavorful Syrah is the spicy, tobacco-scented Hocus Pocus Syrah Santa Barbara 2006 ($18), with red and black berry flavors. More extravagant is the splendid Rosenblum Syrah Kick Ranch Reserve 2005 ($38), with deep, peppery black plum and spicy berry flavors and a rich finish.
A slightly chilled bottle of Beaujolais is wonderful with grilled chicken or fish. The very enjoyable Drouhin Moulin-a-Vent 2006 ($21) has spicy cassis, fig and black fruit flavors while the anise, dark cherry and plum-flavored George Duboeuf Morgon Jean Descombes 2006 ($13) is equally good. Another fine summer choice is Eola Hills Oregon Pinot Noir 2006 ($12), with raspberry, strawberry and cherry notes and a touch of spearmint at the end. Floral, plum and cherry flavors predominate in the Erath Oregon Pinot Noir 2006 ($19), while the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Whole Cluster Fermented 2006 ($19) is more complex, with red berry, plum and cherry notes.
Sangiovese is a classic food-friendly Italian grape now being grown in the U.S. with notable success. Seghesio Sangiovese Alexander Valley 2005 ($23) has concentrated red and black cherry flavors, while the coffee-scented Altamura Sangiovese Napa Valley 2004 ($45) has deep, rich currant, black fruit and spicy cherry notes. A bit lighter in style but still very good is the Sausal Sangiovese Alexander Valley 2005 ($20), with strawberry, red berry and citrus flavors.