Some 2017 Summer Wine Suggestions
By: Louis Marmon
June 9, 2017
Beyond the Memorial Day barbecues are several months of warmer weather that call for a different wine drinking strategy. Cellar those big Cabernets and move to a lighter style with bright fruit and crisp acidity for balance that will work well with the typical summer foods and as a sipper to enjoy on the deck with friends. These wines are to enjoy right away and their reasonable price points allow for a bit of adventure without a huge financial risk.
Start with the Dry Creek Vineyard Chenin Blanc 2016 ($15). Sonoma pioneer David Stare began bottling a dry Chenin Blanc in 1972. This family owned winery is now run by David’s daughter, Kim Stare Wallace, and their 45th consecutive vintage of Chenin Blanc again demonstrates that this lesser known varietal can be a delightful bargain. Citrus aromatics progress into fresh pear and melon flavors that are nicely balanced with crisp acidity and a bracing finish. Open this with seafood, (especially shellfish), sushi and other light summer fare. If you feel less daring, consider their Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($20) that contains 12% Sauvignon Musque and 5% Sauvignon Gris. The result is a complex and very richly expressive wine with abundant tropical fruit and floral aromatics and generous pineapple, orange and stone fruit flavors that are coupled with an ideal amount of acidity for balance. The finish is something special as well.
The increasing popularity of Rosés is another indication that Americans are becoming more adventurous wine consumers. Made from nearly every varietal, there is a Rosé for nearly every palate. Strawberry and cherry flavors and aromas pirouette within the refreshing V. Sattui Rosato di Sangiovese 2016 ($26) along with watermelon and some hints of spice at the end. From South Africa is the Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rose 2016 ($10) that exhibits some of the classic Cabernet flavors minus the tannins including berries, black cherries and a touch of herbs. There’s depth here but the overall impression remains fruity and well-balanced.
The Spanish Bodegas Ochoa Garnacha Rosado 2016 ($13) is another easy to drink Rosé with watermelon and cherry flavors on a nice frame of acidity. The floral, berry and citrus aromas of the Frescobaldi Alie 2016 ($19) are accented with stone fruit and a bit of spice that expand into an intricate combination of strawberry, cherry and melon flavors. The lengthy finish is refreshing and reveals a bit of salty minerality that discloses the costal origin of the fruit. Think salads and seafood. And this year’s Toad Hollow “Eye Of The Toad” Dry Rose of Pinot Noir 2016 ($12) is another inexpensive and tasty rosé whose lightness belies some seriously crisp cranberry, red cherry and citrus flavors with watermelon and a bit of peach coming in at the end.
Some of the finest examples of Albariño come from Rías Baxias located in Spain’s Galicia region just north of Portugal. Created from old vines, the dry, medium bodied Granbazán Etiqueta Ámbar Albariño 2015 ($21) displays the characteristic citrus backbone with rich apple, peach and melon flavors accented with herbs, pepper and a bit of minerals in the satisfying ending. The Adega Condes de Albarei Albariño 2015 ($14) begins with apricot, honey and apple aromas that progress into stone fruit and tangerine flavors with nice citrus for balance and a touch of saltiness at the finish.
For something a bit sweeter, consider the value-priced, off-dry Bex Riesling 2014 ($ 12 ) from a lesser known region of the German Rhine valley. It opens with scents of apples, limes and white flowers that lead into green apple, citrus and tropical fruit flavors with hints of nuts and minerals. The fruit and slight sweetness are well-balanced by a tart acidity.