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Summer Wines: A Seasonal Guide

Sit back, relax, and cool off with a refreshing glass of wine in hand!

All of this warm weather, bright sun and our constant search for a cool or air conditioned space is a definite sign that summer is upon us! It’s the time to enjoy weekends at the beach, vacations abroad, or even some rooftop barbeques with family and friends. Whatever your summer plans may be, I am sure a refreshing summer wine would be a great companion to bring along, whether it be for a casual dinner with the family or for a momentous occasion such as a wedding.

Keeping your needs in mind, we have compiled a great list of summer wines spanning the traditional favorites like Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay, and adding several unique wines for you to consider including Chenin Blanc, Prosecco, Rosé Champagne, and Gewurztraminer. Here, at The Wine Cellarage, we are thrilled to share our newly composed summer wine list with you. These wines have been chosen for their excellent quality and great value. They are sure to keep you cool and refreshed all summer long!

Here’s a closer look at our summer wine list…

Rosé

Summertime is here and it’s the perfect season to open up a bottle of refreshing berry-scented, floral rosé. Rosé is the ideal wine for summer barbecues and parties and is incredibly food-friendly. Perfect pairings include barbecue flavors, sausage, hamburgers, and just about anything on the grill – veggies, fish, shrimp, pork and so on.  Also, fresh salads and side dishes are easily matched with just about any rosé. How could you possibly turn down a glass of beautifully pink, crispy chilled wine on a warm summer night?

The 2011 Chateau Sainte Marguerite L’Esprit Rosétes de Provence ($16) from Côtes de Provence, the biggest appellation of the Provence wine region, is a beautiful blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah grape varieties. This rosé is deliciously fruity and balanced with crisp strawberry and raspberry flavors and attractive acidity. It serves very well as an aperitif but is structured enough to withstand various entrées as a companion.

The 2010 Domaine Saint Ser Côtes de Provence Saint Victoire Rosé Prestige ($16) is an elegant rosé, offering lovely aromas of wild red berries, hints of watermelon and lemon zest; a perfect pairing for traditional Provencal meals like Bouillabaisse.  This wine definitely has the structure to stand up to substantial dishes. The Domaine Saint-Ser is located in the Saint Victoire sub-appellation of the Côtes de Provence and is home to a small number of elite producers.

The 2011 Bieler Pere et Fils Sabine Rosé Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence ($14) is the perfect summertime sipper with aromas of raspberry, watermelon and undertones of Provençal herbs.  Charles Bieler has been crafting his charming Provençal rosé for the last 7 years. This particular rosé is named after his daughter, Sabine, who was born the same year as the wine’s first vintage, and honors his father, Philippe, who introduced both Charles and his sister to the wine business.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc wines are perfect coolers for hot summer weather. Their aroma, ranging from herbal greens to citrus fruits, often sporting refreshing acidity, makes them an attractive pick for a summer drink. Sauvignon Blanc is usually at its prime within a few years of its release while it still showcases its fruitful and fresh youth. This native French varietal is the main constituent of white Bordeaux wines and is widely planted in the Loire Valley, most notably in the regions of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé.

The Seresin estate in New Zealand produces wines from organic and biodynamic vineyards where the fruit is hand-picked and sorted. This 2009 Seresin Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough ($45) embraces typical traits of Marlborough, with herbal and floral flavors and underlying minerality. The fruit flavors, especially gooseberry, and complexity give way to a drawn out finish of juicy citrus.

We have another New Zealand wine for you! 2010 Craggy Range Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Te Muna Road Vineyard Martinborough ($19) is great to drink now, with herbal and lime aromas and a hint of vanilla. The concentrated fruit flavors balance out with the citrus-like acidity. This drinks well as an aperitif or with lighter and fresh foods such as salads.

While we love New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, we’ll always have a taste for those from the Loire Valley. Pascal Jolivet is one of the Loire’s youngest estates producing exceptional Sauvignon Blancs.  Established in 1987, Domaine Pascal Jolivet is devoted to natural winemaking and sustainable techniques.  Based in Sancerre, the estate owns over 70 acres of the best vineyards in the appellations of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé.  The 2009 Pascal Jolivet Sauvignon Blanc Attitude ($17) offers floral and citrus aromas, bright acidity and minerality on the palate.  This delightful wine drinks like a Sancerre at half the price.

This 2010 Gerard et Pierre Morin Sancerre Vieilles Vignes ($22) is a great Sancerre which I recently had the privilege of tasting. It offers aromas of citrus fruit zest and freshly cut grass, both scents reminiscent of summer days. The wine tastes ripe, tight, and crisp with good minerality.

Chardonnay

Chardonnay is the chameleon of the grape varietals, thriving in a range of climates and crafted in a variety of styles. Relatively neutral in character, Chardonnay is easily influenced by its environment and the winemaker’s techniques.  For these reasons, it is one of the most popular and widely planted white wine grapes in the world.  Native to France’s Burgundy, Chardonnay is the only grape variety permissible in Chablis and one of three grapes varieties used in Champagne.  Outside of France, Chardonnay has flourished in the New World wine regions, growing happily in California, Chile, South Africa, Australia and beyond.

Chablis is always a refreshing choice for summertime and perfect for pairing with lighter dishes, especially seafoods.  The 2009 Domaine William Fevre Chablis Montee de Tonnerre ($38) is representative of elegance and finesse with notes of fruit blossom and the great combination of smokiness and minerality on the palate, which leads to a powerful finish. This premier cru is terroir-driven and expressive, as most Domaine Fevre wines aim to be.

This 2006 Maison Deux Montille Soeur et Frère Saint-Aubin sur Gamay ($32) is a premier cru from St Aubin in the Burgundy region. The estate is run by two siblings with vineyards located mostly in the Côte de Beaune region in 20 appellations. This particular Chardonnay offers lemony stone flavors that are round and focused with aromas of pear, minerals, and white flower.

This 2009 Domaine Bouchard Pere et Fils Meursault Genevrieres ($79) is great for any seafood dish especially with a butter or sorrel sauce. Coming from Domaine Bouchard, the estate is one of the most renowned in Burgundy and has a reputation for producing exceptional wines. This particular Chardonnay is silky with citrus and floral flavors and a very smooth finish. This wine is great to drink today or to let age for the medium-term.

Now let’s head over to the new world with New Zealand’s 2008 Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay Auckland ($32) offering sweeter exotic fruit aromas such as passion fruit and mango, with hints of toasted hazelnuts. This Chardonnay is crisp and tight with concentrated flavors and can be enjoyed now or until 2016. The estate is run successfully by the three Brajkovich brothers, and managed by their mother Melba, who is not only the head of the household, but head of the winery as well.

Another Chardonnay that we’ve fallen for this year is from a fantastic South African producer with a rich history, Glenelly Wine Estate. Located in Stellenbosch, the estate’s heritage goes back to the 17th century.  May-Eliane de Lencquesaing purchased the property in 2003, after running the famed Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande for 30 years prior.  May de Lencquesaing is renowned for the wines of her Pauillac Grand Cru Classé Chateau and has upheld the same level of excellence at Glenelly. The 2010 Glenelly Chardonnay The Glass Collection Stellenbosch ($14) showcases the exceptional quality and value coming from this estate.

Unique Summer Wines

If you love Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley as much as we do, François Chidaine’s Vouvrays are not to be missed.  Crafted in a range of styles from bone dry to sweet, Chidaine’s Vouvrays share an ethereal, elegant quality and great complexity.  This summer we’re sipping Chidaine’s dry style – the 2009 Francois Chidaine Vouvray Clos Baudoin ($25). If you’re looking for a more sweet-styled Chenin Blanc, we suggest the 2003 Domaine Huet Vouvray Cuvee Constance 500 ml ($89) which showcases dried fruit aromas and flavors with a refreshing touch of acidity in the lengthy finish. This is a sweet wine that can be enjoyed now until 2030.

Breggo Cellars’ extraordinary white wines from unique varietals (Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling) places this Northern Californian producer on our summertime favorites list.  The 2009 Breggo Cellars Gewurztraminer Anderson Valley ($25) is exotic and enticing with opulent aromas of orange zest, lychee, honeysuckle and rose.  Elegant and refreshing on the palate, bright tropical flavors mingle with zippy acidity and a long, lovely finish.

Now how about a combination of two of our favorite style summer wines, rosé and sparkling, for a rosé champagne! NV Varnier-Fanniere Champagne Brut Rosé Grand Cru ($58) is great served as an aperitif to accompany prosciutto or smoked salmon hors d’oeuvres, with berry or chocolate-based desserts, or even meat dishes. This energetic champagne offers great citrus and red fruit flavors, finishing off with a spiced ending. Definitely crisp and refreshing!

Another sparkler that is undoubtedly very enjoyable is our beloved Prosecco.  Both the NV Lamberti Prosecco Extra Dry ($16) and the NV Mionetto Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG ($18) are great accompaniments for salads, seafood or simply as aperitifs. Chill one of these Proseccos down and enjoy the bubbly!

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Crisp Rosé with Mediterranean Seafood Dish

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Chateau Sainte Marguerite L'Esprit Rosé

Rosé lovers!  I’m sure you will agree that the best way to beat the summer heat in NYC is to uncork a bottle of well-chilled rosé.  If you haven’t tried the Chateau Sainte Marguerite’s L’Esprit Rosé from Cotes de Provence, you’ll want to add it to your immediate to-do list!  Uncork the Chateau Sainte Marguerite L’Esprit Rosé ($16) and you will be transported from the concrete jungle to a chic café on the French Riviera.

Comprised of Grenache, Cinsault & Syrah, this rosé is crisp, fruity and refreshing. Aromas and flavors of raspberry and strawberry are supported by the wines impeccable structure and balance. On the palate, the full fruit and silken texture sail through the finish. This rosé is elegant as an aperitif, yet has the structure necessary for pairing with heartier Provençal dishes such as bouillabaisse.  The L’Esprit Rose paired perfectly with the Pappardelle frutti di mare “Mediterraneo” recipe from The Wine Lover’s Cookbook: Great Recipes for the Perfect Glass of Wine by Sid Goldstein.

Situated on the French Riviera in the Cotes de Provence, Chateau Sainte Marguerite is one of the rare cru Classé from Provence, spreading over 180 acres.  A careful selection of vine varieties, conscientious cultivation methods and favorable climatic conditions make for a perfect terroir.

Pappardelle frutti di mare "Mediterraneo"

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Taste Summer: Bedell’s Taste Rosé

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2011 Taste Rosé

Summer is just around the corner, but with this exceptionally warm Spring weather, I’m in the mood for Rosé nowBedell Cellars, a sustainable family-owned estate vineyard and winery on the North Fork of Long Island, has made two great vintages of their Taste Rosé.  Bedell Cellars has a 30 year legacy of winemaking on the North Fork, which is impressive for a young Northeastern U.S. appellation.

Bedell’s winemaker, Rich Olsen-Harbich, has been around since the estate’s beginning and is the man responsible for authoring the North Fork of Long Island appellation into existence back in 1986.  Olsen-Harbich crafts the estate’s wines via a holistic natural winemaking program, relying entirely on indigenous yeasts.  He stands alone among Eastern North American winemakers in his exclusive use of indigenous yeasts.

I tasted the 2011 Bedell Cellars Taste Rosé for the first time last week and was instantly charmed.  I am thrilled to add a high quality, locally produced rosé to my list of go-to summertime quaffs!

Tasting Note: Beautiful coral pink color. Aromas of wild strawberry, tropical fruit, white peach are accented by delicate citrus blossom and herb notes.  Bright and crisp on the palate with red berry flavors and zippy acidity.  Delightful, refreshing finish.

The Taste Rosé made a wonderful companion for a simple dinner of  Tortellini with Asparagus, Peas, Goat Cheese and Mint (recipe from Fine Cooking).

Spring Pasta with Asparagus and English Peas

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Rosé Season is Here!

Enjoying rosé wine on a summer afternoon.

There is no better way to welcome the warm weather and the summer ahead than by opening the season’s first bottle of crisp, refreshing berry-scented rosé.  As Memorial Day approaches, thoughts of lazy summer afternoons, balmy evenings and plenty of well-chilled rosé are filling my head. I couldn’t be more excited that rosé season is finally here!

Defending Rosé’s Reputation

This charming pink-hued wine has had to overcome a somewhat sullied reputation.  Sadly, its resemblance to cringe-worthy “White Zinfandel” has caused many to disregard this delicious, elegant wine.  A side note on White Zin – This rosé imposter became popular in California and the U.S. during the 1970s and 80s, at a time when white wine was more fashionable than red.  Producers like Sutter Home capitalized on the fad, crafting pale colored wines from red grapes.  Sutter Home’s first batch of semi-sweet White Zin was actually a fermentation gone-awry where the yeast died out before consuming all of the sugar.  Enough about White Zin though, we’re talking about rosé!

Colors & Styles

Coming in a range of colors, from the very palest of pinks to darker ruby-purple toned shades, rosé is one of the most aesthetically pleasing wines to behold.  Some have hints of orange, while others display vibrant tones of iridescent magenta.

Rosé is made from just about every red grape you can think of, but the most common are the varietals of France’s Southern Rhône Valley – Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsaut and Mourvedre.  Rosés made in the south of France are most often dry and can range from delicate, pale pink, lighter styles to more full, robust, darker pigmented examples, depending on the combination of grapes used as well as the winemaking process.  One of the Southern Rhône’s most notable rosé appellations is Tavel, producing dry wines that are fuller bodied and well-structured.  Within the Loire Valley, the Anjou region is well known for Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grolleau based rosés, which are produced with varying levels of sweetness.

The pink wines of Spain are called rosado and are usually made from the Garnacha grape (the Spanish equivalent of France’s Grenache).  Spanish rosados are usually made in a darker, fuller-bodied and more robust style than their Provencal counterparts.  In Italy, rosé translates to rosato, and are there made with an array of Italian grape varietals, depending on the region, such as Nebbiolo in Piedmont, Sangiovese in Tuscany and Negro Amaro in Southern Italy.  The majority of Italian rosatos are darker colored and more full-bodied.  California has followed the example of Southern France, making some delightful rosés from the Southern Rhône varietals, among others.  Pink wines are made in every wine producing region of the world, so there are many to explore and enjoy!

Rosé Wine Pairings

Rosé is incredibly food friendly.  Here the brisk acidity and refreshing quality of a white wine come together with the body and structure of a red wine, making it compatible with a range of dishes.  To quote Julia Child, “Rosés can be served with anything.”  Far too often, this versatile wine gets pigeon-holed as an aperitif or salad course wine, when in actuality, it pairs marvelously with more substantial main course dishes, like grilled pork, roasted chicken and stewed fish.  Some sublime rosé pairings that are not to be missed include cured meats, fish that has been fried, grilled or stewed, grilled pork and grilled shrimp.

The food and wine pairing possibilities don’t stop here though…this remarkable wine works well with barbecue flavors, sausage, hamburgers, Mexican food, egg dishes and pâté.  Rosés that have a touch of residual sugar are perfect for spicy cuisines, like Szechuan and Thai food.  And of course, just about any salad gets along well with this cool, crisp rosy wine!  Salad Niçoise is the classic pairing in this category and one of my personal favorites for hot summer weather.

How It’s Made

Rosé usually starts its vinification journey as if it were going to be made into red wine.  There are effectively three methods used for making rosé wine.  The most widely used method, and the way that rosés have traditionally been produced in Europe, is by shortening the amount of time the grape skins and juice stay in contact after the grapes are crushed.  During this maceration period, the skins are left to sit on the juice for one to three days, imparting some of their color.  Once just enough color has been extracted, the pale juice is then drained or run off the skins and fermented the same way that white wine is almost always fermented, in stainless steel tanks.

The second method, most often used for Grenache grapes, is called saignée.  Here the grapes are destalked and lightly crushed, then allowed to sit on their skins for eight to 12 hours.  The pale colored juice is then run off from the skins and continues on to fermentation.

In the third method, red grapes are pressed and the juice is immediately run off the skins for fermentation, so there is no maceration period.  This is the process used for making the wine that is called vin gris (literally ‘grey wine’) in France.

In the EU, it is illegal to make quality rosé by blending red and white wine together.  The only exception here is in Champagne, where blending is sanctioned.  Rosé Champagne is made by blending white wine from Chardonnay with red wine from Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier.

Rosés to Try Now

If you’re looking for the perfect summertime quaff, the 2010 Bieler Pere et Fils Sabine Rosé Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence is wonderful, showing aromas and flavors of raspberry, cherry and wild strawberry, along with racy minerality and bright acidity.  You’ll want to drink this rosé every chance you get this summer.

The 2010 Domaine Saint Ser Cotes de Provence Saint Victoire Rosé Prestige is an elegant summer wine, offering delightful aromas of wild red berries, hints of watermelon and lemon zest. This is a great wine with salmon dishes, and ideal for traditional Provencal meals such as Bouillabaisse.

The 2010 Prieure de Montezargues Tavel Rosé is an exceptional wine from the Southern Rhône’s Tavel appellation.  This rosé has enticing style and finesse, showcasing raspberry and strawberry notes, along with subtle peach aromas.  On the palate, red berry flavors mingle with Provencal herbs and spices, resounding in the full-body, freshness and length of this gorgeous wine.

From the renowned Guigal estate, the 2010 E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rosé is a blend of native Rhone varietals – 50% Grenache, 40% Cinsault, 5% Mourvèdre and 5% Syrah. On the nose, fresh, expressive aromas of raspberry, redcurrant and citrus leap from the glass. On the palate, this wine offers pure flavors, ripe fruit, great balance and plenty of finesse.

Finally, traveling to Italy, the 2010 Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo Il Mimo Nebbiolo Rosato is a fabulous, food friendly Northern Italian rosato made from the Nebbiolo grape.  This delightful rosé is very true to Nebbiolo’s character, offering red fruit, handfuls of raspberries and red currants, along with beautiful floral notes.  The 2009 Il Mimo is lovely, crisp and refreshing with plenty of backbone, firm tannins and a mineral-laden finish.  This is an excellent wine for food pairing and will complement everything from fish to heartier meat dishes.

To browse all of our delicious rosés and to stock up on this excellent summer wine, CLICK HERE.

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