With summer now in full swing, I've made sure you have enough to eat with my round-up of summer salads for the season, but I didn't want to leave you hanging without anything to drink, so let's talk summer wines.
Summer of course is warmer so the big tannic red wines aren't always your first choice, though I'm still happy to open a chunky Cab or smoky Pinot (check out my under $25 Pinot selections here) when the grill is revved up and the steaks are sizzling. On the whole though, summer leans toward lighter, fresher varietals, often whites and my favorite, Rosé.
Once again, some loyal friends joined me in the tough job of tasting and rating top wines like we did in the first Tasting Page Taste Test where we explored 10 great Pinot Noirs under $25.
Now that everyone had a chance to remove the red stains from their teeth, we were ready to pick our top summer wines.
The rules were the same with everyone bringing a great wine under $25. We also made sure there was too much food with great plates ranging from every cheese ever made, served on everything from a chip, crostini, heated, marinated and just oozing nicely on a plate. Luckily there are now great vegan cheese options too if you are avoiding dairy and animal products like my smoky cashew chipotle spread.
Our food winners from the last event outdid themselves this time with a crostini that might as well have been a sandwich with smoked pork, cheese and a beet puree that was a flavor bomb of the best kind. Salads and sweets included beautiful presentations with lemon and white chocolate. The range of wine paired nicely with many of the dishes.
I also received a nice helping hand from Repurpose tableware for the wine tasting event. I don't like using real plates for parties and hate the waste of plastic stuff hitting the landfills for decades. Repurpose's products come from plants. They're BPA free, 100% compostable and chlorine free. And to top it off, they have really durable products. You're not holding a leaf for your cheese to ooze through. It's hardy and good for the environment. Win win.
Without further adieu, here were our favorite summer wines under $25, and a name you might want to avoid next time you're wine shopping. Yes, we took one for the team in the name of research.
Winner - Triennes Rosé 2013
This is one of my go-to Rosés....under $25. Don't get me wrong though, I'll also happily pay twice the price for a nice Domaine Tempier from Bandol, but we're talking everyday sipper here. This is a perfect choice when you just need a bottle for a weekend picnic or to give a host that you may not know very well and will likely not open the bottle with you. The Triennes Rosé is a winner and a steal at about $14. Seriously, $14. It's lean and dry with bright acid, making for a really easy drinking summer wine. Stock up.
Runner Up Rosés
The 2012 Domaine San Peyre Rosé is a similar price point as the Triennes, but wasn't as clean for me and many others, though still quite drinkable. It's a blend of grenache and syrah, giving it a taste of white peach and ripe blueberry with some decent minerality.
We didn't drink these at the party, but two other go-to rosés for me are Miraval and Whispering Angel. Say what you will about Brad and Angelina and I'll laugh the whole time I'm drinking their tasty rosé. It's medium bodied with good acid and a hint of strawberry. While Whispering Angel sounds like a bad stripper name, it's actually another good French rosé from Provence with a blend of seven different grapes. All of the rosés I've mentioned in fact, are from Provence, because it's the only place you should ever buy your rosé from, period. Yup, French wine snob, c'est moi!
Standout White Wines
We had a whole range of white wines, which I was happy to see as I feared we were going to have 10 Chardonnays, but alas we only had one, and it was from France, so naturally it was the best white. Actually it tied for my favorite white with another French bottle, but first the Chard.
Bouchard Pere and Fils is a good name to know in France as they've been at the wine game for nearly three centuries. They know what they're doing. Their Reserve Chardonnay from Burgundy feels good in the mouth. It's rounder with some weight to it and can hold up to some creamy cheese.
Another interesting white was the 2013 Sevre et Maine Muscadet. Muscadet has always been what you drink when you're slurping oysters, but now I say have this when you're drinking a dozen wines in a night. The Sevre et Maine Muscadet has character and minerality to it, making it a great food partner, and not just for oysters.
Perhaps not as interesting, but still enjoyable were the following.
2103 Habit Chenin Blanc from Santa Ynez was much too floral and sweet for me, though it's dry on the palate. Jeff Fischer is the name behind Habit and he's been labeled a "garagiste" winemaker due to his small batch productions. If you're in the Jeff Fischer fan club then you'll proabably want to get your hands on a bottle of this one since he only produced 495 cases.
As the name suggests, Carlson's Trois Fleurs, contains 3 grapes in the following amounts - 50% Gewürztraminer, 25% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Chenin Blanc. Floral notes are pronounced, but also present are layers of lemon and citrus. This is also from Santa Ynez and not my favorite, but as you can probably tell floral and tropical fruit aren't my thing.
My favorite of the runner up white summer wines was the 2013 Trefenbrunner Pinot Grigio. This Pinot Grigio actually had some life to it with its aromas of green pear and apple, but it was well balanced. This bottle was from Northern Italy and is more interesting than most in the Pinot Grigio category.
Stay Away from this White Wine
2014 Ampelos Viognier. Just run away. Or pay it forward and buy it so someone else doesn't make the mistake and bring it to your next party. Ok, I'll try and be non-biased. If you like peach, apricot and pineapple all blended together, drink a smoothie. No, sorry, drink this wine if tropical fruit bombs are your thing.
Summer Red Wines
Most people don't tend to reach for red wines in the summer, but there are some lighter one's that can still work. One friend brought 3 Locations CA wine, which would hold up well to grilled food with its larger flavor. Dark cherry combines with ripe plums for a decent blend from the Prisoner winemaker, Dave Phinney.
I also think a GSM, Grenache Syrah Mouvedre, from Paso would be nice at a summer party. I may not like a lot of ripe fruit in my white wine, but throw it in my red (as long as it's balanced), and I'm good to go. I included a Beaujolais in the mix and while I can't say the one I opened was the best, I can say that Beaujolais is a good idea overall for a lighter warm weather wine. It should be served slightly chilled, which again makes it great for summer. Make sure to look for Cru Labeled botle which will come from the best areas in Beaujolais, France. And stay away from Beaujolais Nouveau, the grape juice served at parties in November. That's the one place where l don't like the fruit flavor in my red!
Did we miss your favorite summer wine? Let me know in the comments and we'll have more homework to do!
*Repurpose provided me with products to use at the party, but all opinions are always my own.