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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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Thanksgiving Wines: Pairings for the Big Feast

White wine on the Thanksgiving table

There has been a distinct chill in the air and the east coast has already seen a significant snowstorm.  There’s no denying that winter, and the holidays, are fast approaching.  While I’m not necessarily looking forward to the biting cold days ahead, I’m eagerly awaiting the holiday season!  The next two months promise to be filled with plenty of feasting, celebration and a steady flow of delicious wine…merriment that will stave off winter’s hold for a while, at least.

With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, family chefs across the nation have already begun planning their menus and experimenting with new recipes.  The beauty of Thanksgiving, the reason that it tops my list of favorite holidays, is that it is a celebration of food and family.  Not only does the holiday give gourmands more reason than ever to run wild in the kitchen, it is a welcome opportunity for oenophiles to show their stuff too.  The cooks are already ahead of the game.  It’s time for us wine lovers to plan our attack and seek out the very best wine pairings for the grandest of feasts.  So wine lovers, what will you bring to the Thanksgiving table this year?

Pairing wines with Thanksgiving dinner is easier than one might think.  The meal itself features abundant flavorful side dishes, all with a gorgeous, simply roasted turkey as the centerpiece.  One could argue that just about any wine can work with Thanksgiving, due to the vastness of the meal and diversity of flavors within, but there are certain wines that elevate this feast, bringing it to a whole new level.  Here are our suggestions for some truly knockout Thanksgiving wine pairings

Wine Pairings for Hors d’oeuvres and First Courses

The wine you choose for kicking-off your Thanksgiving feast should have some bubbles!  Champagne or sparkling wine makes an ideal pairing for hors d’oeuvres ranging from charcuterie and cheese plates, to soups and salads.  Cheese almost always makes its way into the appetizers for a large party and the refreshing acidity and bubbles in sparkling wine cut right through the richness and saltiness of any assortment of cheeses, from Brie to Stilton.  This Thanksgiving, we’ve selected several champagnes and domestic sparkling wines for Turkey Day pairings:

NV Henriot Brut Souverain ($50) – Recently awarded 93 points from Wine Spectator, this champagne has long been one of our favorites.  A blend of 50% Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs and 50% Pinot Noir from Montagne de Reims, the Brut Souverain is aged in the quiet darkness of Champagne Henriot’s Gallo-Roman crayeres. These dramatic cellars, unique to the Champagne region, are carved out of chalk 60 feet underground and provide optimal aging conditions.  Upon release, the Brut Souverain has been aged to perfection. Its rich, elegant style is lovely as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to variety of dishes from hors d’oeuvres straight through to a fruit-based dessert.

NV Delamotte Brut Blanc de Blancs ($55) – This vivacious champagne, made from 100% Chardonnay, has satisfying richness while being exquisitely elegant at the same time.  Delamotte has been producing champagne since 1760 and is the sister house to renowned Champagne Salon.   Situated in the grand cru commune Mesnil-Sur-Oger amongst the finest Champagne producing vineyards, Champagne Delamotte is a reflection of this unique, exceptional terroir.  The style of this blanc de blancs is well suited to Thanksgiving festivities.

Look no further than New York State for some sensational sparkling wines that are wonderful for Thanksgiving and the holiday season.  The Chateau Frank sparkling wines are the very best in quality and offer enticing value as well.  For a truly American holiday like Thanksgiving, it is only fitting to show off some of our country’s finest wines…

2006 Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs Finger Lakes ($29) – This blanc de blancs is one of our new favorite 100% Chardonnay sparkling wines from Finger Lakes producer Dr. Frank.  This bubbly has a sublime voluptuous froth, great complexity, elegant flavors of honeysuckle, citrus and ginger, all undercut with refreshing, zippy acidity that make it the ideal companion for appetizers and first courses.

NV Chateau Frank Célèbre Rosé Finger Lakes ($20) – The festive color of this sparkling rosé will look stunning on your Thanksgiving Day table and in the hands of your dinner guests.  Made from 100% estate grown Pinot Meunier grapes and crafted in the traditional French Crémant style, this sparkling rosé offers rich raspberry and strawberry aromas, lush cherry flavors and beautiful, delicate bubbles.

Wine Pairings for Thanksgiving Dinner

Zinfandel

As I mentioned before, I’ve always thought it was nice to feature a few American wines at Thanksgiving. Red Zinfandel is the first wine that comes to mind, especially since it has an interesting immigration story of its own.  Let’s be clear, we are not talking about semi-sweet, pink-colored White Zinfandel, which has managed to disgrace the grape’s name.  In stark contrast, the Zinfandels that I adore are rich, robust, red wines that sing aromas of ripe briar fruit, dark cherries, currants and spice.  They are big, intense wines that pair well with a variety of foods.  These wines are akin to the gravy for your Thanksgiving bird.

The history of America’s Zinfandel can be traced to roots in Croatia, where it is named Crljenak Kaštelanski, then to Italy, where it is Primitivo.  The grape was brought to the Boston area in the early 19th century, by the Austrian Imperial Nursery, and named Zinfandel (a name whose origins are unclear).  By the mid 19th century, the grape had made its way to sunny California, where it was a popular table grape and dried for sweet raisins.  A few years later, California recognized Zin as viable for winemaking, and adopted the grape as a signature American varietal.

Zinfandel has extensive heritage in America, and an immigration story that reaches far beyond our borders.  The lush fruit character and versatility of these wines make them an ideal pairing for your turkey along with all the trimmings.

The Zinfandel to pour this Thanksgiving is the 2009 Ridge Vineyards Zinfandel Geyserville ($35). Wine Advocate critic Antonio Galloni praises this impressive wine, awarding it with an attractive score of 94 points.

“The 2009 Geyserville is a gorgeous wine. It shows expressive inner perfume, sweet black cherries, menthol and minerals. This is an understated, exceptionally elegant red endowed with considerable finesse and fabulous overall balance. A round, sensual finish makes it impossible to resist a second taste…” – Antonio Galloni

Pinot Noir

Pinot’s beautiful cherry fruit aromas and flavors, combined with its characteristic earthy quality, make it just perfect for Thanksgiving menus.  Harvest season ingredients such as butternut squash, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, roasted root veggies, nuts and dried berries are all accentuated by the character of Pinot Noir.  Those Pinots from the West Coast (California, Oregon and Washington State) tend to be more fruit-forward, which is a great complement for turkey meat.  Pinots from Burgundy are often lighter bodied with an earthy-minerally quality, quite similar to the character of the ingredients that show up on the Thanksgiving table.  Any of the Pinots listed below will work marvelously with your feast…

2009 Capiaux Cellars Pinot Noir Widdoes Vineyard Russian River Valley ($35) – A delicious and sweet-fruited single-vineyard Pinot Noir with lush berry flavors, earthy undertones, full juicy body and a smooth, rich texture. Sean Capiaux, owner and winemaker of Capiaux Cellars, is a Pinot Noir expert with an impressive winemaking resume, including Jordan, Pine Ridge and Peter Michael in California and Houghton Winery in Australia.

2008 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Yamhill Cuvee Willamette Valley ($37) – With its dark fruit, black cherry, lively spice notes and impeccable structure, your bird is calling for the Yamhill Cuvee this Thanksgiving. Domaine Serene Winery and Vineyard was founded in 1989 by husband and wife team, Ken and Grace Evenstad.  The Evenstad’s are advocates for sustainable farming, practicing dry farming techniques on their vineyards, meaning that they never use artificial irrigation or tap into local rivers to water their vines.  Domaine Serene specializes in world class Pinot Noirs, while also producing excellent Chardonnay and Syrah.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, we can get enough of 2009 Burgundy.  They are simply irresistible.  Don’t feel guilty about uncorking them this Thanksgiving…even if their projected prime is still a few years away!

2009 Domaine Michel Magnien Bourgogne Rouge ($25) – Rich black cherry and blackcurrant aromas and flavors are dressed up with baking spices and subtle floral aromas.  You’ll hear, “Please pass the Burgundy” more than anything else with this stellar Pinot on the table.

2008 Domaine Bernard Moreau Bourgogne Rouge ($20) – This is exceptional red Burgundy for the price.  Lovely red cherry aromas give way to an earthy accent of briar patch.  The vibrant acidity and lengthy satisfying finish make this a superb choice for the Thanksgiving feast.

White Wine Options

Aromatic white wines work especially well with Thanksgiving dinner for several reasons.  Grapes such as Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling can be vinified into dry wines that have slight amounts of residual sugar.  This hint of sweetness, combined with the fragrant and sometimes tropical aromas and flavors in the wine, pairs wonderfully with Thanksgiving Day spreads, which often incorporate sweet elements as well (think sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce).  Meanwhile, the naturally high acidity of these types of wine is the perfect foil for rich, hearty dishes.

Chardonnay is another excellent option for Thanksgiving and a classic pairing for roasted turkey.  You can go with either a white Burgundy or a new world Chardonnay with subtle oak influence.

2009 Breggo Cellars Pinot Gris Wiley Vineyard Anderson Valley ($27) Located in Northern California’s rustic, pastoral Anderson Valley, Breggo Cellars specializes in stunning wines from Alsatian varietals – Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling.  Breggo means “sheep” in the local dialect, homage to the area’s native population of sheep. The winery property, a 203-acre farm, was one of the first sheep ranches in Anderson Valley. This small production (only 350 cases produced), single-vineyard Pinot Gris offers delightful notes of pear, baked apple and honey, with a touch of candied lemon peel. Rich and medium-bodied, flavors of apricot preserves, melon and Meyer lemon dance on the palate.

2009 Breggo Cellars Gewurztraminer Anderson Valley ($27) – This exotic and enticing wine shows opulent aromas of orange zest, lychee, honeysuckle and rose, enhanced by notes of sweet lemon and apricot. Elegant and refreshing on the palate, bright tropical flavors mingle with zippy acidity and a long, lovely finish. Only 398 cases made.

2009 Francois Chidaine Vouvray Clos Baudoin ($25) – Crafted in a range of styles from bone dry to sweet, François Chidaine’s Chenin Blancs share an ethereal quality and great complexity. A brilliant wine with aromas of lemon rind, honey suckle, citrus blossom and white pepper; on the palate, the tangy character is accompanied by honeyed citrus flavors, with hints of bitter almond skin. The finish lingers gracefully.  A truly exceptional wine with the resounding acidity and brightness needed to emphasize the elements of Thanksgiving’s banquet.

2008 Ramey Wine Cellars Chardonnay Russian River Valley ($28) – “Bright yellow. Precise, mineral-driven aromas of pear, spicecake, iodine and wet concrete, along with a sexy floral aspect. At once tactile and fine-grained, with subtle smokiness giving depth to the flavors of Meyer lemon, minerals and candied ginger. Tightens up toward the back, finishing quite suave, with strong lift and cut to its ginger-laced orchard fruit flavors.” – Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, 91 pts

2008 Domaine Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault Genevrières ($85) “As it almost always is, here the nose is spicier still and more refined as well with striking complexity adding compelling interest to the floral, citrus and white fruit aromas. The rich, concentrated and classy flavors possess plenty of extract that confers a seductive texture that carries over to the impressively long and harmonious finish. This is unmistakably at another level, at least at this early juncture.” – Burghound, 92 pts

Rosé

Rosé is one of my favorite wines to pair with Thanksgiving dinner.  Not only is the wine’s color cheerful and festive, the characteristic red berry flavors make it the ideal choice for Thanksgiving.  Incredibly food friendly, Rosé provides the best of both worlds, combining the brisk acidity and refreshing quality of a white wine 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.”  The versatility of the wines below make them perfect pairings for Thanksgiving’s bounty, complimenting everything from the mashed yams to the stuffing.

Steal! 2010 Mulderbosch Vineyards Rose Stellenbosch ($12) – This is a dark cranberry-colored, robust and refreshing rosé made from Cabernet Sauvignon, showcasing complex aromas and flavors of rose petals, lime zest and wild strawberry.

2010 Prieure de Montezargues Tavel Rosé ($21) – Enticing style and finesse, showcasing raspberry and 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.

2010 Bieler Pere et Fils Sabine Rose Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence ($14) – Aromas and flavors of raspberry, cherry and wild strawberry shine, along with racy minerality and bright, food friendly acidity. Charles Bieler has been crafting his delicious Provençal rosé, Bieler Père et Fils Sabine, for the last 5 years. Named for his daughter, Sabine, who was born the same year as the wine’s first vintage, this rosé honors Charles’ father, Philippe, who introduced he and his sister to the wine business. This rosé continues the Bieler family reputation that was built over 13 years at Chateau Routas and the last three years with Three Thieves.

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Autism Speaks’ Annual Golf Challenge

The Wine Cellarage is proud to participate in the Autism Speaks’ 13th Annual Celebrity Golf Challenge.  We have partnered with Cape Classics, the leading US importer of South Africa’s finest wines, to feature a selection from their superb portfolio of wines on the evening of the golf challenge. Attendees will have the opportunity to taste the wines and to learn about them from our Cape Classics representative.

The Wine Cellarage is pleased to announce that for two weeks following the event, 20% of gross purchase price from any purchases of the featured wines will be donated to Autism Speaks.  In addition, several of our partners will be donating fine wines for the silent auction to be held the evening of the event.

Autism Speaks’ 13th Annual Golf Challenge

Autism Speaks’ 13th Annual Celebrity Golf Challenge will be held on June 20, 2011 at the highly acclaimed Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, NY.  Among the attendees at this important event will be renowned celebrities from entertainment, sports and media. Golfers will play their rounds on Winged Foot’s demanding East and West courses and will have the chance to participate in several course contests.

After golfing has finished, the evening program will commence, including both live and silent auctions.  These auctions will feature unique get-aways, signed sports memorabilia, soothing spa treatments, fashion items and fine wine.  For more information please contact Elizabeth Irving at eirving@autismspeaks.org. For an event recap and to see photos from last year’s Celebrity Golf Challenge, click here.

About Autism Speaks

Founded in February 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism, Autism Speaks has since grown to be the largest autism science and advocacy organization in the United States, devoted to funding the research of causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism.  Autism Speaks has worked diligently to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders and is the leading advocate for the needs of the individuals and families struggling with autism.  This organization gives hope to all those affected by autism.

Featured Wines

We are thrilled to be pouring the following outstanding South African wines on the evening of the Autism Speaks’ 13th Annual Celebrity Golf Challenge and to make a contribution to this wonderful cause.

2010 Mulderbosch Vineyards Rose Stellenbosch – Mulderbosch Vineyards, situated in the Stellenbosch Hills area outside of Stellenbosch, South Africa, is widely accepted as one of the very best white wine producers in the country.  Their delicious, refreshing 100% Cabernet Sauvignon rosé showcases complex aromas and flavors of rose petals, lime zest and wild strawberry.  This rosé is ideal for summertime quaffing!

Glenelly Estate Wines

Located in Stellenbosch, the Glenelly 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.

2010 Glenelly Chardonnay The Glass Collection Stellenbosch – The Glass Collection was inspired by antique glass pieces from May de Lencquesaing’s private collection. The Glass Collection Chardonnay showcases invigorating aromas of peach, citrus and ginger.  Crisp and refreshing on the palate, this lovely Chardonnay has an enduring finish.

2007 Glenelly Grand Vin de Glenelly – The estate’s signature red blend, Grand Vin de Glenelly offers elegant, complex aromas of blackcurrant, blackberry, plum, spices and hints of toasted hazelnut.  On the palate, this wine has a rich intensity that is harmoniously balanced by refreshing brightness and great structure.

Rustenberg

2007 Rustenberg John X Merriman Stellenbosch – A blend of five Bordeaux varietals (48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc & 3% Malbec), the John X Merriman is one of South Africa’s most legendary wines.  Named for the Prime Minister of the Cape who, in the late 1800s, bought and refurbished part of the historical Rustenberg estate, this wine is rich with cherry and licorice flavors that mingle seductively with smoky tobacco and spice notes.

The Rustenberg estate has enjoyed an illustrious, albeit tumultuous, wine-making history that dates back to 1682, when the land was first recognized for grape-growing potential by a German man named Roelof Pasman.  The estate flourished for the first half of the 19th century, but faced hardship when recession came and disease struck the vines.  In 1892, the Cape’s Prime Minister, John X Merriman rescued the estate and helped to restore it to it’s early glory. Wine has been consistently bottled at the estate ever since.

Peter and Pamela Barlow purchased the Rustenberg estate in 1941, passing it on to their son, Simon, who has taken over operations. Although among South Africa’s oldest wine estates, Rustenberg boasts one of the Cape’s most modern cellars.  Rustenberg produces long-lived, depthy wines, crafted through a marriage of technology with the art of tradition. Rustenberg wines are exemplary of the Stellenbosch region’s excellence.

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Summer Wines: What to Drink All Summer Long

Cool off with crisp, refreshing summer wines!

Memorial Day has always been one of my favorite holiday weekends, the unofficial start of the summer season. The official turning of the season may be a few weeks away still, but these long, hot sunny days and warm, pleasant nights sure have me fooled, and I couldn’t be more thankful.  It’s time to break out the whites in our wardrobe and to fill our glasses with light, bright, refreshing summer wines.

Here at Wine Cellarage, we’ve compiled a selection of great summer wines that we’re thrilled to share with you.  These wines have been chosen for their excellent quality and great value. They are sure to keep you cool and quenched all season long without draining your summer vacation fund!  There are certain wines that go hand-in-hand with the summer season, classic choices that will never go out of style, including Rosé, Prosecco, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.  In addition to these classics, we’ve added some slightly more unusual wines to our summer wine collection.  Among them, delicious Chenin Blancs from the Loire Valley, a Gewurztraminer from Northern California and a fantastic Methode Traditionelle sparkler from New Zealand.

Our homage to the summer season doesn’t stop with our exciting portfolio of summery wines.  This year, we’ve partnered with Eating Vine, a new recipe sharing and wine pairing community, to create three different Summer Wine Packs. Each pack is an intriguing wine tasting adventure, filled with six carefully selected wines from Wine Cellarage and paired with amazing recipes from Eating Vine!

Our Summer Wine Packs are a great way to stock-up on crisp, cooling summer wines, such as Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Prosecco and even Champagne.  Perfect for picnics, parties and gifts, the delicious recipe pairings will make entertaining easy, breezy and elegant all summer long.

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

Rosé

There’s no better way to welcome the warm weather and to kick off the summer ahead than by opening the season’s first bottle of crisp, refreshing berry-scented rosé. Rosé is the ideal wine for summer barbecue’s and parties.  Incredibly food friendly, Julia Child put it best when she said, “Rosés can be served with anything!” As you gear up for summer entertaining, don’t forget the rosé!  Perfect pairings include barbecue flavors, sausage, hamburgers, and just about anything on the grill – veggies, fish, shrimp, pork and so on.  And of course, fresh salads and side dishes get along incredibly well with this cool, crisp rosy wine!

One of the best rosé values out there comes to us from an award-winning South African producer, Mulderbosch Vineyards. Renowned as one of the country’s very best white wine producers, Mulderbosch makes two highly regarded reds and an excellent 100% Cabernet Sauvignon rosé.  The 2010 Mulderbosch Vineyards Rosé Stellenbosch ($12) is a delicious, refreshing rosé, showcasing complex aromas and flavors of rose petals, lime zest and wild strawberry.

The 2010 Domaine Saint Ser Cotes de Provence Saint Victoire Rosé Prestige ($21) 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.  (I paired this with grilled sausage and peppers last weekend and it was wonderful!)  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 2010 Bieler Père et Fils Sabine Rosé Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence ($14) is the perfect summertime quaff, 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.  Charles Bieler has been crafting his delicious Provençal rosé for the last 5 years. Named for his daughter, Sabine, who was born the same year as the wine’s first vintage, this rosé honors Charles’ father, Philippe, who introduced he and his sister to the wine business.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blancs are the perfect coolers for hot summer weather. Their vibrant, zesty character, citrus aromas, herbal notes and crisp acidity make them a classic choice for summertime imbibing.  Sauvignon Blanc is best consumed within a few years of its release, while youthful, fruity and refreshing.  This native French varietal is the main constituent of white Bordeaux and is widely planted in the Loire Valley, most notably in the regions of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé.

This year we can’t get enough of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  Craggy Range wine estate makes one of our favorite Sauvignon Blancs.  Owned and operated by the Peabody family, Craggy Range specializes in exceptional single-vineyard wines that are true to their terroir.  The 2009 Te Muna Road Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($19) is from their Te Muna Road Vineyard in Martinborough and is produced from vines that grow on stony, limestone-rich soils.  Minimal cellar intervention results in an elegant Sauvignon Blanc with a delicate, soft texture and mineral undertones.

Another favorite from New Zealand is the 2010 Cloudy Bay Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc ($27).  Located in the Wairau Valley of Marlborough, Cloudy Bay’s vineyards benefit from the cool, maritime climate bestowed by the South Pacific. This sustainable, environmentally conscious wine estate single-handedly pushed Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc into the spotlight.  Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc delivers classic characteristics of ripe lime and grapefruit, along with a remarkable tropical medley of papaya, mango, orange blossom and gooseberry. Vibrant and refreshing, this is just what the doctor ordered on a hot summer afternoon and makes an ideal accompaniment for the fresh flavors, herbs and spices of Asian cuisine.

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.

If it is true Sancerre that you’re after, the 2010 Domaine des Vieux Pruniers Sancerre Blanc ($20) is a wonderful, affordable option.  Domaine des Vieux-Pruniers is located in the village of Bué, a few short miles from Sancerre.  Here the grapes grow on incredibly steep, hillside vineyards renowned for their limestone-rich soils.  This is a quintessential Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc – clean and pure, showing aromas of citrus fruit and blossoms, zesty lime and orange flavors and brisk minerality that lingers on the palate.

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 Gilbert Picq et Ses Fils Chablis Vieilles Vignes ($25), made from fifty year old vines, is a classic Chablis with plenty of zippy minerality and pure fruit character.

The 2009 Bouchard Pere et Fils Bourgogne Blanc ($18) is a great summer Chardonnay from Burgundy – lively and fresh, offering pear and peach aromas and a smooth texture with just a touch of oak.  The Bouchard Bourgogne Blanc is an ideal accompaniment for grilled seafood, shellfish and poultry dishes.

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 styles – the 2009 Francois Chidaine Vouvray Clos Baudoin ($25) and the 2009 Francois Chidaine Vouvray Les Argiles ($23), which are enchanting now and will age gracefully for years to come.

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 ($27) 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.  Only 398 cases made!

On of the best value sparkling wines we’ve come across is the NV Quartz Reef Sparkling Methode Traditonelle ($28) from Central Otago, New Zealand.  Blended from 76% Pinot Noir and 24% Chardonnay, this is a beautiful, brisk and refreshing sparkling wine that you’ll want to enjoy poolside, dockside and just about everywhere else you go this summer.

When we think of summertime sparkling wine, we think Prosecco.  Both the NV Lamberti Prosecco Extra Dry ($14) and the 2009 Bisol Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Crede ($20) are amazing!  When looking for the ideal wine to pop open on a hot Saturday afternoon, you can’t go wrong with either of these delightful, summery Proseccos.

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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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