Summer Sippers Case
One characteristic that each of these wines shares is their refreshing acidity that qualifies each as a “summer sipper.” Summer is the season for light-bodied, fresh, clean wines with lots of energy to give us a little kick as the dog days of summer lull us into lethargy. They pair beautifully with the lighter, fresh fare coming out of our gardens or from the Farmers’ Market or CSA.
Broadbent, Portugal, Vinho Verde, NV
Technically a non-vintage wine because they should be consumed within the current vintage so including the vintage is unnecessary. We prefer the Broadbent because Bartholomew Broadbent, importer, insists that the wine be shipped via refrigerated containers to preserve its freshness. A blend of indigenous white varietals picked before they are fully ripe, the wine brings to mind fresh, tart lemonade that is made even more refreshing by adding a gentle spritz.
At only 9.5% alcohol, the Broadbent Vinho Verde is perfect for picnics or summer brunches; serve well-chilled. Because of the low alcohol, Vinho Verde is a great selection for the late afternoon or early evening when it is still hot and you want something refreshing. It makes a great aperitif, but can be served with salads, crudités or briny oysters. If you serve cheese, this would be best with goat cheeses to accent their tanginess. It is likely to be overwhelmed by creamier cheeses and richer foods, though Vinho Verde’s low-alcohol and high acidity would work very nicely with fried foods like fish and chips.
Hugues Beaulieu, Coteaux du Languedoc, Picpoul de Pinet, 2009, $11.99
Another refreshing white wine for summer from the unlikely AOC of Coteaux du Languedoc, unlikely because this AOC is all about big red wines, but for the little oasis of Picpoul with its limestone soils. Flavors of grapefruit and green apples with a clean, briny finish make Picpoul the summer wine of the Languedoc where daytime temperatures often hit 32-35 degree Celsius (90+ Fahrenheit). Picpoul translates literally to something like “lip stinger” for the bracing acidity for which it is known.
Like the Loire’s Muscadet, the acidity and brininess of Picpoul make it an easy partner with briney shellfish like oysters or clams. It also accompanies anchovies quite nicely, and therefore makes a good pairing with either Ceasar Salad or pissaladiere. It would also work well with sole or other flakey, white fish. It’s terrific, however, on its own as a palate awakener after a long day in the sun.
Domaine Carrel, Savoie, Jongieux, 2009, $9.99
TRY THIS WINE! Tucked up against the Alps, the Savoie region produces a small amount of wine, 70% of which is white and 100% is delicious. It’s certainly some trope of mental association, but the words that kept coming up to describe this wine were things like “mountain wildflower,” “wet stone minerality,” “Alpine cool air”- you get the idea. Made from the Jacquere grape, this wine conjures images of the place from which it derives with its clean, fresh, ethereal aromas and flavors. I actually wrote additional descriptors like Meyer Lemon, fruit blossoms and spearmint, but the most descriptive word I wrote for it was simply “yum!
This wine, the Carrel Jongieux, has earned its stripes as the summer house wine, along with the Peyrassol Rosé, at Chez Ramsburg-Larkin. It is so refreshing and so delicious that we enjoy a glass on its own while sitting together in the evening watching the “show” in the meadow across the dirt road. Myriad types of birds, a deer or three or four, and our “chats lunatiques” keep us entertained while reminding us constantly that “life is good.” The Jongieux just fits; it conveys the same message.
Domaine Baron, Les Vieilles Vignes, Touraine, 2009, $10.99
100% Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire- if you love Loire Sauvignon Blancs, this is the wine for you. I happen to be among those who prefer their Sauvignon Blancs from the Loire- dry straw, terragon and vaguely minty aromas with citrusy fruits. Until we discovered this wine, however, the Loire would set you back at least $15 for a Touraine, and $20-$30 for a Sancerre. We were thrilled to find this small production, under-the-radar producer using grapes from older vines (vielles vignes), thus concentrating flavors to make a more intense wine.
There is a classic Loire-”greenness” to this wine-lime zest, fresh peas, spearmint. If you are making pea soup with mint, this wine is the perfect complement. Loire Sauvignon Blancs are typically paired with goat cheeses. It would work well with shrimp, a spring/early summer risotto of asparagus and lemon or peas and mint, sushi or falafal. This is a terrific value Loire Sauvignon Blanc that I plan to share with all those who love Loire Sauvignon Blanc but can’t afford to drink it as often as they otherwise would.
Commanderie de Peyrassol, Cotes du Provence, Rosé, 2009, $17.99
Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre As always, our “go-to” summer rosé- light-bodied, dry, minerally, floral, a bit more fruit this year than last, strawberry, peach and nectarine.
This has been the quintessential summer sipper at Chez Ramsburg-Larkin for years. We fell in love with Provencal rosés having spent a summer holiday in Provence with dear friends who disabused us of our “American” perception that rosé meant white zinfandel. The Cotes de Provence appellation de controllée (AOC) is the heart of French rosé. Located in the eastern part of Provence, Cotes de Provence winemakers typically blend much larger portions of Cinsualt and Mourvedre into their rosés than their Languedocian neighbors. The result is greater floral (Lavender), fresh herbs (herbes de Provence) and mineral aromas and flavors. They also allow less contact with the skins , which yields an elegant, light salmon-colored wine.
Were you in eastern Provence from spring to mid-fall, you would see the outdoor seating areas of bistros filled with people sipping wine the color of this Peyrassol. When we sip our Peyrassol Rosé, we are transported back to Provence, to meals light meals of Caprese salads, pissaladiere and bowls of Nicoise olives with herbes de Provence. At home in Green River, we have come to associate Peyrassol with summer in Vermont, with the gift of having good friends nearby with whom to create and share fond memories, often over good food and good wine. As you introduce your friends to dry, minerally rosé, enjoy it while casually grazing on olives, crostini with fresh pesto-either basil or cilantro, goat cheese marinated in fresh thyme and rosemary, and roasted vegetables served with aioli.
Domaine Gilbert Picq et Fils, Chablis, 2007
Pink grapefruit, pineapple syrup, and oyster shells on the nose, then sweet and surprisingly creamy in the mouth, with a concentrated lemony flavor that avoids any impression of hardness. A very ripe wine from a crop that was sharply reduced by hail. For all its richness, this soil-driven wine fnishes with excellent grip and length. 90-Tanzer
From vineyards around the town of Chichee, Picq’s generic 2007 Chablis smells of pear, freesia, almond, and shrimp shell reduction. Corresponding flavors mingle with refreshing grapefruit on a velvet-textured palate. Bitter hints of black currant skin and citrus pips are subtly integrated into a long, lively, buoyant, infectiously juicy finish whose complex interplay of citrus, floral, and mineral elements is rare for a basic Appellation Chablis.
The wines of Picq represent some of the most amazing values in Chablis, not only on account of the reasonable prices asked for their two premier crus, but for the frequently premier cru quality exhibited by their trio of village wines, a quality that is nothing short of astonishing in 2007. (And the components for 2008 were exciting too, early on.) 90-Parker N.B.-massive hail storms throughout Chablis devastated crops for 2007, leading to considerably lower yields.
Those paragraphs above are the verbatim reviews of Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar and Robert Parker, Wine Advocate. What the above does not tell you is that Chablis is Chardonnay. At the village level, as opposed to the Premier Cru level, the wines are generally unoaked, aged only in stainless steel or completely neutral barrels. The soils of Chablis are characterized by large amounts of silex, or flint over a clay and limestone base. The silica represent the decomposition of oceanic fossils and contribute a minerality to the wines produced here.
I have enjoyed this wine several times, and my less-sophisticated palate picks up pear and melon (honeydew), orange peel and salinity. Chablis is a great way to persuade the ABC crowd (Anything But Chardonnay) that all Chardonnay is not a butter-bomb. There is certainly greater body here than in the Vinho Verde, Jongeuix or Picpoul, and for that reason, this wine is more likely to accompany your main meal, whether grilled salmon or Lemon-Tarregon Chicken. It could also accompany a roast pork. For vegetarians, try this beautiful Chablis with omelettes with fresh herbs or perhaps a nice, chilled Vichyssoise-or both!