Top Summertime Wines

Summer encourages lots of time outdoors, paddling around, beach walking, biking and hiking, dining al fresco, grilling and gardening. Menus feature lighter fare. Summer’s bounty, from our gardens or the farmer’s market, is beckoning, and so is that chilled, refreshing bottle of wine.

This time of year, no wine is more refreshing than a Vinho Verde. That’s Portuguese for “green wine” which refers to its age when its sold rather than the color. It’s light, slightly sparkling and acidic. They are dry, low alcohol, charming hot weather wines. Best with fried calamari, steamed clams, crab cakes, grilled fish or seafood stews.

Whether it’s by itself or with its traditional blending partner Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc is the best choice for vegetarian fare or seafood. This light to medium bodied wine has crisp acidity, the stuff that makes wine refreshing. The citrus and herbal notes are a perfect choice for the grilled fish, oysters on the half shell, sautéed zucchini, salad of all types or roasted red peppers and goat cheese.

Chinook Winery’s Sauvignon Blanc – a longtime favorite – is fermented at cool temperatures to retain the floral and fruity aromas. The perfect balance of body and acidity, it is a serious contender for grilled fish with a citrus glaze and corn on the cob.

Frichette 2014 Semillon is elegant with pear and honeydew flavors, a medium body and a refreshing crispness. Grilled pork chops with sautéed apples or grilled peaches, bouillabaisse or paella would be my pick.

Maryhill’s 2013 Celilo Vineyards Gewurztraminer has that very aromatic spicy nose. It’s a dry wine with a touch of residual sugar. Spicy Asian dishes like Pad Thai, anything with ginger or smoked cheeses are the heavenly match here.

The ever popular Fetzer Monterey Gewurztraminer is all fruit and spice with the right amount of acidity and another Asian cuisine partner. Ceviche is also a winner with this wine.

Pinot Noir is known to have been cultivated in Burgundy, France for about 2,000 years. Occasionally a gene drops out and the grape mutates. The loss of color in the skin of the mutated grapes is where Pinot Gris or Grigio comes in. Noir is French for black and gris or grigio translated means grey.

Pinot Grigio is a light to medium bodied white best drunk young. Its best foodmates are chicken, fish, mussels, pork chops and following in the Italian tradition, antipasto.

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2014 Pinot Gris is made by lightly pressing the grapes rather than crushing them.  It’s cold fermented in stainless steel to highlight the Pinot Gris flavors and underwent sur-lee aging. This is an ideal picnic wine.

The other Italian summer grape is Prosecco also perfect with antipasto. The beautiful thing about Prosecco is the elegance and aromatics. From the hills surrounding the Veneto region in Italy, Prosecco is a summertime quaff. Gently pressed grapes are fermented in stainless steel produce a dry sparkling wine with lemon, apple and pear with high acid that is crisp and invigorating. Fresh fruit and cheese on the patio, anyone?

Speaking of sparkling wines, you must try, if you haven’t already, Treveri Cellars. This Wapato Winery makes premium sparkling wines from a wide array of grapes. From the traditional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to Riesling, Viognier, Gewurztraminer, and even Syrah.  These wines, served at the state department dinners several times, are aged on average 24 months. The Rosé is my favorite with big strawberry and bready flavors and a delightful finish.

Rosés are the red wine lover’s summer wine. The color and the weight of a red wine comes from the skins of the red grapes. For a red, the skins are left in contact with the fermenting juice for an extended period. For a Rosé, separating the juice from the skins after a brief time together means that the color and tannic acid are reduced. Without the tannic acid, the wine becomes chillable and a very refreshing summer wine. There are many shades available today from very pale to just about red.

These wines can be and are made from a variety of grapes such as Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Syrah, Merlot, and Zinfandel.  As Julia Child’s once said, “Rosés can be served with anything.”

Talking about Pinot Noir without mentioning Oregon would signal the wine police so let me introduce you to a French winemaker’s Rosé from the Willamette Valley.  Domaine Loubejac Pinot Noir Rosé with bright aromas and flavors of strawberries and raspberries with a lingering finish. An impressive match with grilled salmon, shrimp or chicken topped with a cherry or raspberry sauce or vinaigrette.

Palencia Wine Company out of Walla Walla has a delicious 2015 Pinot Noir Rosé from the Ancient Lakes AVA. Vino la Monarcha is a beautiful rose colored wine made with juicy cherry and raspberry aromas and flavors and crisp acidity.

I really liked the balance of the Terra Blanca 2015 Rosé. A blend of 64% Sangiovese and 36% Cab Franc, with lighter red fruit flavors and zippy freshness. Aged parmesan, gouda, or gorgonzola with olives, crusty bread would work for a picnic at the park or on the beach.

Owen Roe makes a tongue-in- cheekiness Super Tuscan Rosé from Red Willow Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet. This light bodied wine has very melony flavors and a dry finish.  Grilled pizza with your favorite toppings is a great match.

Cool and refreshing, familiar or undiscovered, that’s the ticket for a summer sipper.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Before you post, please complete the prompt below.

Please enter the word MILK here: