Tasting the wines of summer
It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy — until you have to pair that wine with summer’s fresh foods.
Gordon Heins, wine specialist for the State Liquor Commission, takes all the guesswork out of finding that perfect summer wine. And the best part is, they are all available at your nearest New Hampshire State Liquor Store.
Whites & Rosés
Casal Garcia Vinho Verde ($6.99): Light, fruity and refreshing, with a very slight spritz. Great wine to start off a hot summer evening get-together. Perfect with shellfish.
Ermitage St. Loop-Coteaux du Languedoc Cuvee Ste. Agnes Blanc ($13.99): Don’t let the long name scare you away from trying this rich and complex white from a small micro climate in the south of France. The wine is deep and golden in its hue with intense tropical flavors reminiscent of a pina colada. Hard to find but worth the pursuit. Amazing with lobster risotto. Open one hour before drinking or decant.
JJ Prum Riesling Kabinett ($18.99): Always delicious. This wine from the Mosel region of Germany is a slightly off-dry beauty that shows off apple, apricot and peach flavors. It’s a great wine with a lunch of good quality cold meats and cheeses. It is amazingly versatile.
Gaudry Pouilly Fume ($13.99): A Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire region in France that is the perfect accompaniment to the wonderful array of shellfish we are so fortunate to have nearby. Its nose of lemons and other citrus fruits and its lively acidity make it very refreshing as well, with or without food.
Chateau de Capitoul Rose Les Rocailles ($9.99): Soft and easy with a hint of sweetness. Tastes of strawberry and raspberry with notes of dried roses. A great bargain to picnic with. Serve slightly chilled with all of your favorite picnic foods.
Domaine Tempier Rose Bandol ($23.99): Totally dry and medium to full-bodied, with notes of strawberries and dried cherries. This is the perfect wine to start an elegant dinner with. Best matches are pate and even tapinade.
Tohu Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($15.99): This refreshing white typifies the quintessential grapefruit and gooseberry flavors of Sauvignon Blanc from down-under. Enjoy with shellfish or vegetarian dishes.
Bigi Orvieto Classico Secco Torricella ($10.99): While Pinot Grigio is perhaps the most popular, there are other excellent Italian white wines that deserve to be better known, including Orvieto and Vernaccia (see below). Bigi Orvieto is a single-vineyard DOC wine made from a blend of Malvasia, Verdello, Grechetto and Trebbiano grapes. It’s great paired with pesto or cream sauces on pasta or with chicken.
Ca’del Vispo Vernaccia di San Gimignano ($13.99): This white wine has a citrus nose and minerality on the palate, and enough complexity to please even diehard red wine drinkers. It’s great with antipasto, shrimp sautéed with garlic and tomatoes or any Tuscan white bean dish.
Valckenberg Gewürztraminer Pfalz ($13.99): Spicy, floral flavors, with a hint of peach. Great with spicy Oriental or Indian cuisine. Also a good pairing with turkey, grilled seafood and strong cheeses.
Abadia Retuerta-Rivola ($13.99): Dark and intense with a spicy black fruit/licorice backbone. Soft tannins. Great on its own or will pair beautifully with grilled meats.
Falesco Vitiano ($10.99): One of the best under $12.00 wines on the market. Soft and easy yet complex. Great “bowl of spaghetti wine.” Consistently gets around 90 points from Robert Parker Jr. (Wine Advocate)
Peter Lehman Clancy’s ($14.99): This is big-time Aussie Shiraz without the big price tag and is often on the Wine Spectator’s top 100 list. It’s pure Shiraz (Syrah) with spicy notes of black pepper and fresh berries. It goes great with grilled pork tenderloin and equally good with peppered flank steak.
Voyager Cab/Merlot ($21.99): This wine tastes like a Bordeaux from St. Julien. It’s absolutely fabulous in its depth and structure. Like a Bordeaux after five or six years of aging. Worth the hunt. Perfect match is lamb or braised pork.
Louis Latour Pinot Noir Domaine de Valmoissine ($11.99): A little-known appellation, this Vin de Pays des Coteaux du Verdon is made using traditional Burgundy techniques in a style resembling 18th century “Vin Vermeil” (wine with a vivid red color). It is bright ruby, with a spicy pinot noir nose with ripe red fruits. On the palate there are flavors of tart cherries and fresh raspberries. Perfect with beef and steak, as well as chicken and mature cheeses.
Sella & Mosca Cannonau de Sardegna Riserva ($13.99): Cannonau is the Sardinian name for Grenache, the principal grape of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. For less than half the price, you get all the smoky, herbal, aromatic richness of the French wine but with an Italian accent, lighter and with more bright acidity. Produced in a maritime region, this Sardinian red pairs beautifully with rosemary-grilled tuna.
Jadot Beaujolais-Villages ($9.99): Jadot Beaujolais-Villages is fragrant and crisp, with floral fruit flavors and peppery notes. A young wine, it is best served slightly chilled. Good choice for picnics and backyard grilling.