Summer’s heat cries out for light, bright wines that won’t weigh us down. Whether we’re at a neighborhood block party, an outdoor concert or savoring a fine dinner out on the terrace, the dog days of summer bark out for wine that offers an additional note of refreshment.
Despite the heat in their vineyards (or maybe because of it!), Burgundian wine – both red and white – seems to be just the right solution. That’s why this month we are “inspired” by the French and their delightfully complex Pinot Noir and unoaked Chardonnay. These are two wines that are certain to make August fly by and have you wondering where the summer went.
2014 Domaine Manuel Olivier, Bourgogne Pinot Noir
Take a French winemaker who got his start as a farmer, growing strawberries, raspberries and black currants, and you get someone who knows how to draw just the right “fruity” characteristics from a true Burgundian Pinot Noir. That is the case with Manuel Olivier. One of the “new generation” winegrowers, Olivier has earned many medals since his start in 1990. With a red berry nose and radiant ruby color, this wine’s joyful palate has a freshness of balanced red fruit followed by an equally balanced finish. This versatile wine pairs with most meals, but is particularly enjoyable with a grilled, rosemary-rubbed chicken. Can even be enjoyed chilled!
2015 Pascal Berthier, Mâcon-Chaintré Roxanne
Named for Pascal’s first granddaughter, Roxanne, this is a refreshing pure and naked chardonnay fermented and aged in stainless steel vats. Anyone who has had a Maconnais chardonnay like this one can vouch for its suitability in the heat of the summer. On the palate, this charming, yet complex wine is dry, fairly full-bodied, with excellent crispness and some mineral notes. Again, this is a versatile wine that offers refreshment while still providing many layers of enjoyment. Pairs well with seafood (especially shellfish) and poultry, as well as many vegetable dishes and soft cheeses.
We’ve probably said it before but for us at Hinsdale Wine Cellars, it’s pretty easy to put the red and white in the red, white and blue that comes with July each year. However, this year, we’re going the extra mile…with a little help from the French.
Say “hello” (or “bonjour”) to a white Bordeaux from France and a red Bordeaux-inspired blend from Santa Barbara that is produced by the same producers (Jonata) of that all-American Screaming Eagle. Whether you are gearing up for just a regular ol’ firecracking Independence Day bash or prefer the red, white and blue of Bastille Day, we’ve got you covered.
Chartron La Fleur, Bordeaux, France
Dry and fresh – just the way we like our Independence Day weather – this Sauvignon Blanc is made for summer. A beauty in the goblet with its pale, yellow-straw color, it really is an unfettered, bright wine. Its floral and fruity nose brings out that lovely quality that we have come to enjoy and expect in Sauvignon Blanc as a refreshing, cool sipper, but it also marries well with that smoky grilled salmon or a shrimp cocktail served before dinner at your next barbecue.
The Paring, Santa Barbara, California
This magical mix of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot really is capable of transporting your taste buds to France! What a lovely wine to sip, while recalling an outdoor café in Paris along the Champs-Élysées! A dark beauty in the glass, this wine is rich in smoky black fruit with dusty and herbal notes. A little bit of rest in the glass or decanter yields even more layers of flavor as well. This is an impressively structured wine with fine-grained tannins that coat the palate gently. If you have enough self-control, see how it morphs more beautifully the following day! A fabulous sipper, but really a perfect match for your all-American grilled ribeye or a nice helping of steak frites.
It’s times like these when we think about relaxing in the sun and spending time outside with friends and family. The wines we are featuring in the Inspired Wine Club this month will fit both occasions. Nothing says “fun in the sun” like a delicious wine shared with friends poolside, beachside or even just alongside the patio barbecue.
And we have found the perfect pair to ring you into summer. This month we present to you a couple of our favorite, most refreshing, summer-enthusiastic Rosé wines. Maybe you like yours young, fresh and fruity from France, produced for centuries with a mix of Syrah and Grenache, Or maybe you prefer Spain’s approach to this classic summer quaff with 100% Tempranillo from the historic Rioja region. In either case, these are the perfect pair to say, “bienvenue” or “bienvenido.” Yes, we’ve missed you, beautiful Summer.
2015 Domaine La Croix Belle Rosé Le Champ des Grillons, France
Although this will likely not be your first French Rosé, it will certainly be a memorable one. The 2015 Rosé Le Champ des Grillons (crickets’ field), a blend of 40% Grenache Noir, 30% Syrah and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, is hand-harvested from a 20-year-old estate vineyard. After a long maceration (about three weeks), each grape variety is fermented separately and then aged together in stainless steel tanks for nine months. The wine results in a ruby red color with purple reflections. With a complex nose of black fruit, blackcurrant, cocoa and spice, it is rich and full in the mouth with notes of bay leaf and black olive. Enjoy its perfect balance and fresh, long fruity finish with your light fresh foods of summer: a delicate poached salmon mousse, a rosemary bedazzled, grilled chicken or even as a sipper with a plate of crusty bruschetta.
2011 Vivanco Crianza, Rioja, Spain
Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco is a well-known name in the wine trade in Rioja, as Pedro Vivanco grew the family firm in the 1970s. Vivanco Rioja Crianza is bursting with red berries. Mild hints of smoke, toasted vanilla, and spice balance the fruit. A well-structured, meaty wine with mature tannins, this is elegant through the long finish. Vinified in French oak vats and aged for 16 months in previously used French and American oak barrels, this wine will continue to evolve over the next several years. The label depicts Joan Miro’s Le Troubadour painting, on display at the Vivanco Museum that features a corkscrew. This 100% Tempranillo wine is aged for 16 months in French and American oak barrels. Again, this is a light, bright wine perfect as a refreshing summer sipper (mixed with club soda for extra refreshment as a spritzer when out in the sunshine) or as an elegant accompaniment to a grilled shrimp diablo or crabcake-topped Caesar salad.