Wikipedia defines summer as “the warmest of the four temperate seasons, falling between spring and autumn. At the summer solstice, the days are longest and the nights are shortest, with day-length decreasing as the season progresses after the solstice.” What? Are you kidding me? Snooze-fest comes to mind!
This is not exactly how I would describe summer, particularly if we are going to start chatting about warm summer evenings at the cottage, friends on the dock, the BBQ sizzling, shared laughter, gorgeous sunsets, and bonfires at the water’s edge. When I think about summer I get excited about sharing balmy evenings with friends as subtle breezes drift across the lake, and we sip on some of our favourite fresh, crispy, balanced and seductive wines.
Summer is the season that everyone looks forward to with great anticipation. We hope for hot, sunny days and warm nights where the stars are vivid and the sounds of the day coming to an end are enveloped by the silence of nature. And when it comes to wine, we typically think of white wines. White wines with a nose of tropical fruit, peach, papaya, kiwi or citrus notes (lemon, lime and sometimes grapefruit). I start to feel relaxed just thinking about it! So please join me as we take a look at some of the beautiful wines of summer that you can choose to enhance the wonderful summer memories you will create and share with loved ones this season.
One of my favourite blends for a light lunch on a patio comes from California. Not heavy or woody, but rather heady and balanced. This little beauty will run you about $25 and is worth it! The blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Muscat will have you asking for more. It is an off dry wine that is delicious and layered with many complex flavours, such as pineapple, guava, kiwi and white peach. Lip smacking acidity makes this an absolute marriage in heaven with spicy Asian dishes.
FIELDING ESTATE ROSE
Niagara, ON. 2013. Style: Medium-bodied & dry. LCBO#53421. $15.95
An absolute steal at this price point! This little pink beauty is reminiscent of strawberry and candied apples. Fresh, crisp & balanced acidity makes this a perfect starter for any summer evening. Pairs beautifully with so many things, a delicious salami pizza – nice and savoury with a topping of arugula in my mind is absolute Nirvana. This wine was one of my “staples” last summer.
Located in the Southern Rhone, Tavel by law can only produce Rose, which is why I felt compelled to include it. Why not grab a bottle of something you know they do very well. This is the oldest appellation for Rose in France. The typical variétal seen in this area of the Southern Rhone is Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. This particular Rose is Grenache Noir and Syrah which expresses on the nose with classic notes of red cherry and strawberry, A very subtle brush of stone fruit, peach and nectarine further entice me. The palate is equally as lovely and mimics the nose, finishing off with gentle balanced acidity and long finish. How could you resist ?
Always serve Rose nice and chilled- 10-13C.
Enjoy as a palate cleanser before a meal or with chicken, cold fish starters, seafood pasta, herb sausages, salad, sheep cheeses or fresh slices of melon.
KIM CRAWFORD SAUVIGNON BLANC
Marlborough, New Zealand. 2015. STYLE: Aromatic & flavourful. LCBO# 35386. $21.95
Another summertime crowd pleaser. Perfect pairing, or shall I say classic pairing – goat cheese. That’s right, sip away on a Sauvignon Blanc while nibbling on a cheese platter or a leafy green salad garnished with leek and goat cheese and you will have a clear winner. One Sauvignon Blanc that is certainly worthy of its name is Kim Crawford. This producer pulls no punches; the classic expression of Sauvignon Blanc comes consistently with all the vintages he produces.
California, USA. 2012. STYLE:Full-bodied & rich. LCBO#276675. $26.95
My new favourite Chardonnay and worth every penny of its price! I have to say I do consider myself a connoisseur of Chardonnay and I do know what I love and why. People who know me, know it is my favourite ‘go to’ wine. In my mind, some of my favourite Chardonnays hail from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma, California. The reason I love this particular wine so much is because it is balanced; not a fruit bomb, not overly woody, but perfect acid to mouth feel. It has aromas and flavours of toast, but not in a woody, ‘clobber you over the head with a 2 x 4 wood’ kind of way. Don’t get me wrong, I think woody Chardonnays have their place too. This wine is just much more ethereal than that. Vanilla and hazelnut, perfect minerality, rich, smooth mouth feel with tons of ripe fruit. It’s the ideal companion for a roasted chicken or a perfectly grilled tuna steak enjoyed outdoors on the patio.
Now, just because it’s summer doesn’t mean we should abandon some of our luscious rich reds. These happen to pair perfectly with a late summer evening’s dinner. I think I would jump onto a rich Cabernet blend or juicy Shiraz that are seriously meant to ‘mate’ with a great steak on the bbq.
The palate is filled with rich flavours of spice, black pepper, raspberry, plum, licorice, and maybe even licorice allsorts. – you know the ones I mean! That’s right, I said it, licorice all sorts. So good. This can be a classic finish to some of the Shiraz wines I have tasted and it’s perfect. Bite into the char on that big fat juicy steak and you have arrived!
Next time you are planning a summer meal, why not plan it around one of Jennifer’s summer wine picks for the cottage? I know that the we will be stocking up on these delicious picks and will be sharing them with family and friends this summer cottage season. And yes, this most definitely includes sharing them with Jennifer and her husband Steve. Cheers!
Jennifer Vipond is the Proprietor/Certified Sommelier at Bruce Wine Bar Kitchen, Thornbury, ON