2019 Summer Wine Picks
With summertime right around the corner, it’s time to start planning all those fun coastal activities everyone enjoys. Backyard barbeques, pool parties, beach days, or a little fun out on the boat are all things we look forward to when the temperature begins to rise in the coming months. These classic summertime shenanigans are always elevated with the addition of ice-cold beverages. Although many people are inclined to grab a 6 pack of their favorite craft brew, I’ve always had a tendency to lean towards a nice refreshing summertime wine. In the following article, I am going to discuss some of my favorite wines and producers to cool you down as the season heats up.
I’ll start this list of wines the same way I like to begin my meals with something that bubbles. Sparkling wine is always a pleasant addition to any gathering big or small. The sound of a popping cork incites the very idea of celebration and enjoying summertime on the Gulf Coast is all the more reason to celebrate. Growing in popularity in the United States, Prosecco is a fantastic sparkling wine to enjoy as revitalizing beverage either during a summer sunset after a long day at work or at Sunday brunch in the classic Italian cocktail, the Bellini. La Marca is a readily available prosecco that won’t break the bank like some of its champagne cousins. La Marca is made using Gelra grapes Italy and produces a lively and lush sparkling wine. The wine has aromas of honeydew, green apple, citrus, and white floral note. These flavors dance across the palate as the efference and acidity excite the taste buds giving a fresh and clean finish. The beauty of this wine is that it can be drunk with just about anything from sliced fruit and cheese to fresh seafood or even just on its own. And as a bonus, can be used in cocktails like the Bellini mentioned earlier or experimented with other concoctions as a substitute for soda water, for example.
A classic staple for fun in the sun is the ever-popular Rosè. You will be hard-pressed to find a better partnership than Rosè the summer season. This light-bodied dry blush wine has become synonymous with warm weather in recent years. Personally, I believe that the best Rosès come from France’s south-eastern region specifically the region known as Provence. Whispering Angel rose produced by Château D’esclans is a perfect wine to indulge in this season while learning about the beauty of Provencal wines. Whispering Angel rose has a translucent pale pink color. An aromatic nose containing light red berry notes like fresh strawberries and raspberries with hints of crushed rose petals. The fruity notes are brought into balance by bright, mouthwatering acidity. The result is a beautiful dry rose that is both juicy and refreshing. A perfect wine for those summer afternoons on the porch (wines like this have been affectionately nicknamed porch pounders) or an excellent pairing with Mediterranean-inspired seafood dishes like a hearty bouillabaisse or even a spicy jambalaya. If you enjoy Whispering Angel, also check out some of Château D’eclans other offerings which showcases a whole array of fantastic roses.
No one can truly enjoy summer without a few good barbeques and what better way to offset the heat of the grill with some cool white wine. A particular wine stands out in my mind is the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/ Viognier blend. A wine that I experienced early in my restaurant career and one my dad actually enjoys (FYI, he’s not the biggest wine aficionado) is the perfect backyard beverage. This delectable blend combines the crisp, vibrant acidity of Chenin Blanc with the lush, full-bodied Viognier grape. The result is a bright and vivacious medium-bodied wine with an aromatic bouquet of honeysuckle, tropical fruits, white peach, and robust floral notes. The fruit-forward mouthfeel reminds me of biting into a ripe nectarine freshly picked from the orchard. This wine has enough versatility to be paired with a myriad of different foods, but the subtle sweetness makes it an intriguing wine to pair with spicy dishes. Ideally, I would have it with a meatier fish like swordfish cooked over the grill with a touch of creole seasoning for spice…..bout to fire up the grill right now.
One of the best parts of summer and in fact living on the coast is the fantastic coastal cuisine readily available just about any way you look. Considered one of the best wines for seafood, Albarino is one of my favorite wines and a go-to pairing with countless oceanic dishes. Bodegas Martin Codax produces some lovely vino out of the Spanish wine region the Rias Baixas. This coastal wine is racy, crisp, and refreshing with clean citrus notes. The lively acidity of this wine really energizes your palate and provides a mouthwatering freshness. The lemon zest of the Albarino really accentuates seafood and fish dishes like squeezing fresh lemon wedges over seared Mahi Mahi. Another excellent pairing would be seafood paella especially with sea scallops, classic Spanish cuisine with a classic Spanish wine.
Since we’re on the topic of summertime food, I absolutely love the coastal festivals that take place almost every weekend showcasing the awesome cuisine that we have to offer. Our friends across the Atlantic hold similar festivities like oyster, crayfish, and fried fish festivals particularly in the Loire Valley of France where the perfect companion is Sauvignon Blanc. Unlike some New Zealand Sauv Blanc that can have a rather pungent off-putting aroma, these wines have that racy, zingy Sauv Blanc aroma underscored with distinct notes of flint. Patient Cottat is a fantastic producer of Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc. The wine has a lovely lemon-green complexion with intense but not overpowering aromas of gooseberry, grapefruit, and passion fruit. This Sauvignon Blanc, which translates to “savage white,” is exactly as the name entails with its wild, tanginess underscored by its mouthwatering flinty minerality. The piercing acidity brings everything into focus ending with a clean, fresh finish. It is that acidity and bone dryness of the wine that makes it so versatile for a diverse range of food. Enjoy it with something as simple as boiled crawfish or as rich as lobster risotto.
One of my favorite places during summer and honestly all year is the beach. Soaking up the sun or catching some surf are a few coastal activities the beach has to offer. After a little fun in the sun, the best way to cool down is with a refreshing glass of Riesling. This wine has vibrant, juicy fruit characteristics that often get confused for sweetness. Chateau Ste. Michelle‘s dry Riesling out of Columbia Valley, Washington is a fantastic wine to showcase this noble grape. The cool climate of Washington State helps preserve the fresh fruit aromatics and achieve high mineral-driven acidity. The intense aromas are reminiscent of ripe apricot, melon, and even a slight hints of pineapple. The beautiful, delicacy of the fruit is complemented by that high-strung acidity. This dry Riesling leads to a refreshingly, elegant finish with a crisp touch of minerality. As with the previous wines, this one is extremely flexible when pairing with food, with popular pairings being Asian dishes or Indian curries. A favorite pairing of mine is oysters and this wine. This crisp, minerally dry Riesling is a perfect match for oysters with the wine acting almost as a palate cleanser in between each delicious
These are just a few wines that I find enjoyable during hot summers along the Gulf Coast. There are a ton of great producers in various regions – I encourage you to explore. Enjoy life during this summer season with a great glass of wine in hand. Cheers!