Wine recommendations for picnics and outdoor concerts.
By Lou Marmon
Gazette Newspapers April 25, 2012
Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts is a true national treasure. The almost 5 acres of available picnic space, an extensive and wide-ranging performance schedule and a liberal alcohol policy allowing patrons to bring their own wine and beer assures a wonderful experience without the over-charging for beverages found at other concert locations. It is the ideal venue to enjoy wines suited to picnicking in the warmer weather.
Wolf Trap is the only National Park dedicated to the performing arts. Created from 100 acres of farmland donated by the late Catherine Filene Shouse in the 1960s, the Wolf Trap Filene Center was opened in 1971 and rebuilt in 1984. Located in a slight bowl among the property’s rolling hills, the under-cover outdoor performance center is open at the sides and back allowing those sitting on the surrounding lawn to enjoy the shows. Almost every style of music is offered including contemporary, jazz, opera, classic and country throughout a nearly 100 show schedule running from May to September.
Picnicking is remarkably easy for tourists and locals alike since there is ample parking, the doors open one and a half hours before all performances and you can bring your own food or order from their catering service. Although lawn seats are first-come, first-serve, there is more than enough room and visibility for the 3,160 lawn tickets available for every show. Many patrons bring small tables, lawn chairs, customized picnic baskets and individual wine-glass and bottle holders that secure into the ground while others opt for the more traditional blankets and coolers.
If planning an outing, wines should be similarly unpretentious with bright fruit flavors and balance to match the typical picnic fare.
Luckily, the arrival of spring also is the beginning of Rosé wine season. Prominent fruit flavors balanced with crisp acidity characterize Rosés and contribute to their food-friendly character. Made from Pinot Noir the Toad Hollow “Eye of the Toad” Rosé 2011 ($13) exhibits delightful raspberry, strawberry and cinnamon flavors with hints of licorice accenting the citrus acidity. The grapes used to create the Field Stone Rosé of Petite Sirah 2011 ($20) were from vines planted in 1894 and the resulting wine is joyfully complex with red cherry and raspberry aromas along with plum and cranberry notes leading to a spicy earthiness on its finish. A perennial favorite from Chile is the floral-scented Montes Cherub Rosé of Syrah 2011 ($17) that shows raspberry, citrus and cherry notes along with some typical syrah spice coupled with an underlying richness and a suggestion of tannins that give it a bit more structure than other Rosés.
With each bottle selling for $10, SeaGlass wines seem specifically designed for budget-oriented, warm-weather dining. Sourced from Santa Barbara, the SeaGlass Sauvignon Blanc 2011 has bright tangerine, lime and grapefruit flavors along with some of the varietal’s characteristic grassy notes. The SeaGlass Riesling 2011 originates from Monterey and reveals the ocean breeze influence in its apple and stone fruit flavors that are nicely balanced with citrus acidity. Their SeaGlass Pinot Noir 2010 is lighter in style but still food-friendly with red berry, dark cherry and vanilla flavors.
Some of California’s best Sauvignon Blancs come from the Dry Creek Vineyard. They were the first in the region to plant the varietal and their experience shows in two of their most recent releases including the value-priced Dry Creek Vineyard Fume Blanc 2011 ($14) that displays a symphony of lemon, passion fruit, grapefruit and apple flavors with hints of herbs and honey. Pineapple and lemon aromas and flavors predominate in the Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ($16) that also expresses a mélange of tropical fruits on a medium-bodied, melon and grassy frame.