Everyone needs a wine sherpa, an amateur sommelier, a guidance counselor of wines. Mine is Shannon Burke Huff, longtime friend from Houston. She’s part Cajun and part Irish, so I consider her a professional when it comes to alcohol. I asked her to guide us through summer wines that are great and not expensive. As you will read below, she is a big fan of Rose. This is not the box Rose we are used to–it will be your new summer favorite, as it is mine. Cheers!
A guide to great summer wines (that won’t break the bank) by Shannon Burke Huff.
Some notes to savor:
1. Screw Cap vs. Cork. Of course, there will always be cork. However, more and more wineries are moving in the screw cap direction especially New Zealand, Australia, Spain and some Californians. About 10% of all wines are “corked.” Corked is a broad term referring to a wine fault and you can actually smell the mold from the cork itself. Hence, the big push to screw caps. The beauty of this is easy, accessible entry and if you are having just two glasses of wine, you can put it back in fridge for the next night. Also, it is an incredible money-saver for winemakers and Mother Earth.
2. There truly are no more rules regarding wine pairing with food. It’s like art- drink what you love. Of course, it being a hot season now, intuitively one would go chilled, even chilling your Pinot Noirs slightly and then letting them come to almost room temperature.
3. It’s fun to explore. Typically, we are California drinkers. However, New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blancs and the Malbecs from Argentina and Spain are knocking it out of the park- price wise and terroir wise. (Terroir is the concept that the land from which the grapes are grown imparts a unique quality that is specific to that region.) Some people love a lot of earth in their wine, I do not. So, I compromise with large format, very fruit forward Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast and Petite Syrah.
On to tasting:
Crossings Sauvignon Blanc 2010 $12.34
Awatere Valley, Marlborough New Zealand
This crossed my radar for the first time about two months ago and ever since I have loved it and never looked back. Although, I have watched the price steadily grow from $10 to the whopper above. Love the screw cap, it’s very feminine, simple and fun to drink. Look for flavors of apricot, white peach and a tad of passion fruit.
CMS Washington State Sauvignon Blanc 2009 $18
Unoaked White Wine
This drinks as well as the best, balanced, non-oaky, Chardonnay would. Just because it says Sauvignon Blanc, don’t be fooled; it is actually a blend of Chardonnay, Marsaune and Sauvignon Blanc. Wonderful with food or just to relax. The bottle is beautiful- reminds me of a very stuffy French label and would be a great addition to a summer tablescape. The label is white with gold writing and baby blue letters in a monogram style. A true crowd pleaser for all white lovers.
Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rose 2010 $9.99
That’s right a Rose of Cabernet- how delightful. Think mouth-full of bright fruit especially strawberries and raspberries. Yummy, especially poolside.
Gruet Rose $13.49
Don’t thumb your nose at this- this is your new best friend, especially if you love bubbles without the headache and all the flavor since the alcohol volume is 12% rather than 14% like true champagne. This is 100% Pinot Noir with 5% Red Pinot Noir for color. It is toasty and packed with red fruit. Looks great in the glass (it’s all about the gear)especially Riedel flutes with beveled bottoms that are fun to hold. It’s great with light seafood and pizza. Cheers to summer.
Pere Anselme Rose 2009 $8.99
Cotes de Provence
Okay, we have hit the Mother Load. Don’t let the price fool you. Every time I step into my local liquor store this baby is off the shelves. It’s what you reach for any day, every day, whatever day. It’s slightly dry with light fruit and some floral behind that- hence the roses. It is great if everyone is having a beer (why?) and have better sense and have a glass of this. It is the quintessential Coup de Grace in terms of price and taste. Enjoy!!
14-18h (which means the hours that the grapes must remain in contact with the skins)
Dry Rose Wine 2009 $15.98
Peloponnisos Regional Wine
But, you feel like you’re back in World History class? Can the Greeks make good wine- answer heck ya. This Rose is just solid good. It has a fuller body of fruit, which would stand up well with lamb, chicken, hamburgers. It’s dry, but not too dry. What a great hostess gift- the bottle is stunning and so is the wine.
Meiomi Pinot Noir 2009 Belle Glos $18.99
Sonoma, Monterrey, Santa Barbara Coast
This is such a winner. It’s made by Belle Glos, whose Taylor Lane goes for $45 a bottle. Made by the same people that bring the favorites Caymus and Conundrum. This is an example where a screwcap can make it to the table with your fine silver. It is chock-full of cherry, strawberry, and raspberry fruit. It is deep, rich and lush. I would have a steak with this no problem. As Rachel Ray would say “Yummo!”
So I figure my wine sherpa Shannon has covered a lot of territory: South Africa, France, New Zealand, Greece, Washington State, New Mexico and of course, California. If you would like a quick print list of these to tote to your liquor store, or have any other great picks for summer wines, please email me at [email protected].