A guide to great summer wines
By Carla Snuggs
Happy Summer! You know what that means: It’s time for new wines! Whether you’re hosting a backyard bbq, having a picnic or just enjoying a meal, a beautiful bottle of wine adds a special touch. I’m sharing some of my recent favorite wines (some with suggested pairings) across all price points that you can enjoy all summer long!
Sans Wine Co.
Sans Wine Co. makes the first single-vineyard, single-varietal, vintage marked, organically farmed, low-intervention wines in a can. They are approaching the release of their third vintage (2018) this month, and they are adding a sparkling Rosé to their portfolio, which currently includes: Rosé of Carignan, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, old vine Rutherford Riesling, carbonic Carignan and the first Cabernet Sauvignon sold in a can. They're perfect for summer picnics and BBQs! Shop: Sans-wine-co.myshopify.com
Lone Madrone Winery in Paso Robles, CA is definitely going to be one of your summer faves. The owner (Neil Collins) actually is a trained Chef from England, gone winemaker. In 1996 he opened his own winery, with his sister, and since then has been crafting rare single varietal wines, as well as extraordinary blends that distinguish Neil’s style of winemaking. The wine you’ll crave is the Chenin Demi-sec- which is a 100% Chenin Blanc. Pair with Seared Sea Scallops with Green Apple Mango Curry. You’ll find the recipe created by Chef Jeffrey Scott right here.
Oakland's Free Range Flower Winery
A leader in the nation's burgeoning, boutique floral-wine movement, profiled in a recent Wine Enthusiast Magazine feature on “innovative producers re-creating floral wines by fermenting the flowers themselves," Free Range Flower Winery handcrafts “deliciously different” wine in small batches from locally sourced, organic flowers—not grapes. Here are some of the wines and summer wine pairing suggestions:
"L" Sparkling Lavender Wine, handcrafted in small batches from locally sourced, organic lavender flowers, is lightly effervescent, with a soft rosé blush, an assertive floral nose, and an implied sweetness. It's crisp and dry with a bright mouth-feel, refreshing acidity, and an elegant clarity of expression with hints of citrus, juniper, and aniseed. It's quite lovely paired with a brunch of Salmon Benedict, and as ENOFYLZ Wine Blog said, "It's great paired with an app of Chèvre (with lavender and fennel pollen) and citrus-cured smoked salmon!"Another wonderful summer pairing would be tequila shrimp ceviche, roasted chillis, and blue tortilla chips. General serving suggestions: Lavender Wine pairs well with savory, salty, and sweet entrées. It’s a spirited apéritif, dessert, or brunch partner and a dynamic ingredient in sparkling cocktails made with mezcal, tequila, rum, gin, vodka, absinthe, and various liqueurs. Serve chilled in a champagne flute.
RoseHybiscus is a fruit-forward ruby-red, "a playful take on red wine [made from] locally sourced organic rose and hibiscus flowers... its tannins are velvety [and] it has earthy and herbal notes on the palate" (Wine Enthusiast). With hints of sandalwood and vanilla on the nose, RoseHybiscus is a luxuriously spicy, dry and light-to-medium-bodied wine, with a harmonious balance of earth and fruit flavors, sage and raspberry. It's best served cellar-chilled and is perfect for hot summer days, a lovely complement to grilled marinated lamb chops and herb-roasted vegetables. It also complements smoked BBQ chicken, cucumber tomato salad, and Thai beef salad with fresh spring rolls.
Azur is a decade old California wine brand established by French winemaker Julien Fayard as one of the pinnacle domestic rosés made the Provence way. It’s beautifully packaged in a custom bottle that Julien designed and patented, making it the perfect wine to enjoy or gift this summer. Shop: Azurwines.com
Band of Vintners
Band of Vintners is the perfect, affordable BBQ wine pairing. It was born from their monthly tasting group of seven Napa Valley tastemakers, each highly regarded among their peers for their contributions to the wine profession. Together, they pooled their resources, talents and relationships to access some of Napa Valley’s best, sustainably-farmed fruit and all the winemaking necessities to get their wine into bottle. The result is Consortium, a delicious symphony of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at a price ($35) that is music to everyone’s ear. The “band” includes Dan Petroski (Larkmead & Massican, SF Chronicle’s Winemaker of the Year 2017), Jason Heller (Master Sommelier, Wine Ring & Scale Wine Group), Stephane Vivier (Hyde de Villaine & Long Meadow Ranch), Mark Porembski (Anomaly Vineyards, Unwritten Wines & Zetigeist Cellars), Brennan Anderson (Vin Folio), Barrett Anderson (Jason Family Wines), and Cameron Hobel (Milton Road Trading Co & Hobel Wines).
Gnarly Head, a line of bold, sophisticated California wines at that are the perfect addition to any summer festivities. From the bold Old Vine Zinfandel that would accompany a backyard BBQ perfectly, to a buttery Chardonnay that boasts fresh and vibrant flavors, these wines are the perfect for the upcoming summer season. I love their Sauvignon Blanc. I say it's the perfect summer bonfire wine.
I have two delicious and affordable wines that are perfect for your next picnic or bbq —Blueberry Moscato and Peach Pie wine. Blueberry Moscato was the #1 wine SKU in one of the Midwest’s largest grocery chains just weeks after its release in March. With deep, flavorful Blueberry juice brought to life by Moscato’s tropical character and natural bubble, Blueberry Moscato retails at just $12 a bottle. This refreshing wine is a crowd-pleasing change of pace that appeals to both sweet and dry palates with its light, low-alcohol style. Awards:
Best of Class, Double Gold at 2018 Indy International Wine Competition
Gold at 2016 Indy International Wine Competition (while in experimental Pilot Project Series)
The Peach Pie wine is another ode to sweet wine done right, at just $10 a bottle it features a crisp, clean apple wine base that lets the natural peach flavors shine in this sweet white wine. It’s fresh and bright and a little buttery, making it a quintessential summer treat for sweet white wine lovers. But this seasonal wine is only available until it runs out! Oliver Winery is Indiana’s oldest and largest winery (located in Bloomington, IN), and was rated among the top 25 wineries to visit in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure in 2017.
William Chris Vineyards is located in the Texas Hill Country in Hye, Texas. It is helmed by two of the foremost winegrowers in Texas, William "Bill" Blackmon and Chris Brundrett. Since founding WCV in 2008, WCV has set the bar high for other area wineries, being a trend-setter instead of simply following the crowd. Unique characteristics help them stand out, including producing 100% Texas Wine with 100% Texas grapes. Here are some of the wines that are perfect for summer:
2018 Mary Ruth: Honeysuckle, orange blossom, lime, and lemongrass tickle the nose. Stone fruit, pear, Granny Smith apple, and a hint of white pepper tease the palate as they lead into a bright finish.
2018 High Plains Rosé: This rosé was whole-cluster pressed two hours after harvest, with minimal skin contact giving the juice a light pink cotton candy color. Aromas of strawberries and cream, raspberry, and subtle citrus peel hit the nose. On the palate, a rich minerality mixes with citrus, stone fruit, and strawberry. A touch of flint supports its lingering finish.
2017 Enchanté: Aromas of bramble fruit, violets and plum touch the nose, while well-structured tannins with notes of dark cherry and mocha with a hint of black pepper paint the palate.
2017 Texas Mourvedre: Texture bursts into a palate of spicy cinnamon & zesty red fruits showing an inviting silky mouthfeel and vibrant focus. Grilled orange slices, red currant, baked cranberry with hints of dried flowers and mulled wine spices.
More information about the vineyard can be found here: Williamchriswines.com.
Tussock Jumper Wine
Tussock Jumper Wine is a global portfolio of over 24 varietals in total, all under $15/bottle. They also have adorable new single serve wines - a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from France, and a Pinot Grigio from Italy. Perfect for tossing in a cooler or beach bag, and they’re 100% recyclable. Here are some of my faves:
Tussock Jumper 2017 Organic Malbec, Argentina ($14): Hand harvested and grown using sustainable farming practices, this rich red wine from South American has flavors of chocolate, dark berries, mocha spice, and a silky finish. Smooth and luxurious, it’s the ideal wine for pairing with everything from steak on the grill to chocolate cake.
Tussock Jumper 2017 Chenin Blanc, South Africa ($12) Off dry in style with tropical flavors of guava, ripe peach, and pineapple aromas, along with crisp minerality. This is the perfect wine for Caribbean fare like jerk shrimp pasta, mango glazed pork chops, or vegetable empanadas.
Tussock Jumper 2017 Delle Venezie Pinot Grigio, Italy ($13) This is your go-to Italian summer white wine! Notes of orange zest, pineapple, white peach, and pear flower unfold into delicate tropical aromas and a long, flirty finish. Pair it with seafood, fish, and light dishes.
Tussock Jumper 2018 Grenache Rosé, France ($13) Refreshing, crisp flavors of juicy strawberries, red currants, and a hint of spice will transport you to the south of France. Soft and fruity with a pale salmon color and a fine finish, try it with summer fruits, cheeses, or charcuterie.
Tussock Jumper 2017 Moscato Rosé, Spain ($13): With notes of candied orange peel, white flower, and bright, carnation pink bubbles, this is the ideal wine when you want to sit back and chill out for the evening. Pair it with soft cheeses, crackers, and jams, as well as fruit desserts.
What wines are you loving this summer? Leave me a comment and let me know!
Disclosure: Press samples were provided by the brand/PR for editorial consideration, product testing, photography and honest review.