Summertime, and the Drinking Is Easy
Or at least it is with these great hot-weather wines
The 2007 Crios Rosé is a brilliant hot-weather wine: sweet and fruity.
Usually around this time of the year I'm either digging through all the junk on my desk or searching through drawers looking for that list of great summer wines that was published by some magazine or newspaper way back in the red wine drinking season of April. I can never find that list. I can certainly never memorize it. I always curse it. That's why I've written a column on summer wines for the middle of our Amazonian summer, when air conditioners are whining, watermelons grow as fast as teenagers' feet, and car interiors are so hot they can pop a bag of microwave popcorn.
My favorite summer wine is a German Riesling. It tastes like fruit juice. Most of the Californian and Australian versions are either too sweet or stripped of any true Riesling character. I prefer a Riesling grown in the cool, rocky region of the Mosel region, where the fruit ripens slowly, producing a fruity wine with plenty of acidity. The 2006 Clean Slate from Mosel-Saar-Ruwer ($8-$10) is one that I will be drinking this summer.
My Riesling alternative lately has been the extraordinary white wines coming out of the Côtes de Gascogne in Southwestern France. I'm amazed that these great wines are still so affordable, especially since the dollar is worth about as much as Monopoly money in Europe these days. There are plenty of variations, depending on the blend, from floral to fruity to dry. The 2006 Colombelle Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne ($8) is a lovely fruit-driven wine with a crisp finish. The 2006 Domaine du Tariquet Vins de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne ($8) is a blend of ugni blanc and colombard. It's a good dry wine with a bright fruit. This would be a perfect garden party or wedding wine. All of these wines are easy to find (still, call ahead) and some of the best bargains on the shelves today.
Here are a few others that I tasted and enjoyed:
2007 Mapema Sauvignon Blanc, Mendoza, Argentina It's a zesty, clean wine made from grapes grown high in the Andes, with a crisp and acidic finish. $13-$15
De Paolo Prosecco Frizzante, Colli Trevigiani, Veneto, Italy. A light, dry, slightly fizzy sparkling wine made in northwestern Italy. Thirst quenching and elegant. Great with food. $10.
2006 Falcon Ridge Unwooded Chardonnay, Monterey County, California. A no-nonsense, no-oak, lean, easy-drinking Chardonnay. $6.
2006 Starry Night, Russian River Valley, California. A big, buttery, voluptuous Chardonnay with subtle oak. Excellent with grilled fish. $18.
2005 Pierrette et Marc Guillemot-Michel Quintaine, Macon Village, France. A medium-bodied Chardonnay with subtle flavors, starting with citrus, then honey, tropical fruits, apples, and pears. No oak. This wine is elegant, beautiful, and lovely. Made using biodynamic farming techniques—no chemicals, fully organic, planting and harvesting by the cycles of the moon. $25.
2007 Crios Rosé of Malbec, Argentina. Beautiful strawberry color. Pleasant strawberry and cherry fruit, just a hint of sugar. A great summer rosé. $11.
2006 Guillaume Gros El Nino Loco, Côtes du Luberon. 60 percent Syrah, 30 percent Grenache, 10 percent Carignan. Nice garnet color. Berry aromas. A mouth full of bright fruits—raspberry, strawberry, and cherry. A hint of black pepper. Low tannins. Perfect summer red. Loved it! $15.