Lighten Up For Summer With Whites And Rosés



Some summer wine recommendations.


By Louis Marmon


Gazette Newspapers  June 20, 2007


Simi RosetoNow is the time to put away the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon in favor of lighter wines to complement the summer barbecues and salads. The best warm weather wines have distinct fruit flavors, crisp acidity for balance and a nice clean finish. The whites and rosés are served chilled, and even the reds can benefit from a half-hour in the fridge before opening. Here are some suggestions:


Isabelle Simi ran her family’s winery in California for 66 years. One of her passions was roses, and she planted one in her ‘‘roseto” to honor every president — except Herbert Hoover whom she blamed for Prohibition. Made from 100 percent syrah, the soft pink Simi Roseto 2006 ($14) is a fitting tribute to Isabelle, with its ripe peach and strawberry flavors and brisk citrus acidity. Another beautiful Rose is the Etude Carneros Pinot Noir Rose 2006 ($20) that bursts with citrus, grapefruit and watermelon flavors and has great balance and finish.


The Tavel region in southern France produces only Rose wines. Because they are often blends of several varietals, they tend to be more complex than their new world cousins. A good example is the Chateau de Segries Rose Tavel 2006 ($14), created from Grenache, Cinsault, Claritte and Syrah. It has lush strawberry and red cherry flavors, perfect acidity and a refreshing finish.


Sauvignon Blanc is another quintessential summer wine, perfect for sipping on the deck or pairing with spicy foods or shellfish. As expected from a winery with a name that means ‘‘good earth,” the Bonterra Winery in Mendocino, Calif., is certified as ‘‘organic” and is on the forefront of sustainable winemaking practices. A fine example of winemaker Robert Blue’s skills is the Bonterra Sauvignon Blanc 2006 ($13), with kiwi and melon aromas as well as grapefruit and tropical fruit flavors.


The ZD Rosa Lee Sauvignon Blanc 2006 ($20) has a glass stopper instead of a cork, which makes the bottle both easy to open and reusable. Produced from a single vineyard located in the southern Napa Valley, the grapes are hand-harvested and cold-fermented, resulting in banana aromas along with pear and apple flavors.


Established in 1861, the Charles Krug Winery is the oldest in Napa Valley and they are now in the midst of replanting vineyards and revamping their winemaking program. Long known for the quality of their Bordeaux-style wines, they also bottle many other fine varietals. The Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc 2006 ($15) appears pale in the bottle, but is surprisingly robust. It has banana, green apple and grapefruit flavors and a touch of melon at the finish.


A comparative newcomer to Napa is Merryvale Vineyards, established in 1983, which makes the very good Merryvale Starmont Sauvignon Blanc 2006 ($18), a blend of 91 percent Sauvignon Blanc, 8 percent Semillon and 1 percent Pinot Grigio. Orange and lemon aromas and flavors predominate along with citrus and slight minerality at the end.


With classic grassy aromas, the Frei Brothers Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2006 ($17) has bold grapefruit and tropical fruit notes and a bright citrus acidity that makes it an excellent compliment to Asian cuisine. A great value is the Kendall-Jackson Sauvignon Blanc 2006 ($11), with lemon, melon and a touch of honey and fig flavors.


For the barbecue, pick up a bottle of the minty Wolf Blass Shiraz South Australia Presidents Selection 2004 ($15). It has spicy black fruit flavors and a full finish. There’s also the bit more earthy Wolf Blass Shiraz Yellow Label 2004 ($10) that has black plum and berry notes.