July and August comprise the “Dog Days of Summer” when the weather is typically the warmest. The name dates back to Greek and Roman times and the ancient belief that Sirius, also called the Dog Star, was responsible for the hot weather as it aligned closer to the sun. So be that as it may, it’s a good time to take it easy and enjoy life. What is better than some chilled rosé and white wine with the fresh, lighter foods of summer? Here are a few new suggestions. They include rosés from Austria, Spain and France as well as white wines from France, New Zealand, and California. There are also some great buys. Take a look. There is something here for everyone!
I must confess that I have little experience with Austrian rosés, but this one really got my attention. If you like your rosés crisp, dry, pure, and fruity this is your wine. Served ice cold on a warm day with light foods it is irresistibly delicious.
2011 Sattler Zweigelt Trocken Rosé Burgenland, Austria.
Pale pink in color with a lovely floral perfume showing hints of watermelon, strawberry and cherry, this rosé is very fresh and crisp with a faint petillance. The fruit is very pure and shows a cornucopia of subtle berry flavors with a lovely crisp citrus tinged finish. This wine has great appeal as a summer quaffer and has immediate appeal. This is one to try – Outstanding. $13.98 Best Buy A Terry Theise Selection Imported By Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, NY
France is home to the largest production of great rosés in the world. They come in many styles. Following is a representative selection following my last 2011 rosé article (to read that article click here). There are many amazing wines here and I urge you to give them a try. They are absolutely terrific warm weather wines.
NV Comte De Bailly Cuvée Rosé Brut.
This is an unusual and very tasty sparkling wine made in the Champagne area from the Tempranillo grape. While the wine is not Champagne, it is a lovely sparkler. It is a very pretty light red in color with a pinkish tinge and a golden edge and there is an enticing floral perfume with lots of strawberry and raspberry fruit. Amazingly creamy with lots of bubbles, yet light and fresh with citrus tinged strawberry and raspberry nuances, the wine has balance with a great zestiness. It is intensely fruity but not at all heavy and with very high appeal for sheer drinkability. Don’t get too serious about this. Just sit back and enjoy! Served ice cold this is a great aperitif or summer quaffer and the price makes it even more enticing – Outstanding. $10.98 Best Buy Imported by Adventures in Wine, Daly City, CA
Some 70 % of the production of Bandol is red wine. It is the only area in France where Mouvèdre is the predominant grape. The rosés made here are some of the best and longest lived of all the French rosés.
2011 Chateau Tour Du Bon Bandol Rosé.
This rosé is made from 35% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 25% Mouvèdre, and 10% Clairette. The average age of the vines is 38 years. With a light salmon pink color and a faint golden hue the wine has a lovely floral citrus perfume with hints of spice and herbs. It is balanced with nice citrus tinged fruit and a faint hint of berries with herbal spice undertones – Outstanding. $28.95 Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA
There are very few rosés produced from the very expensive real estate that makes up the Burgundy region. This is one and it is one of the best that I have tasted in some time.
2011 Domaine Bart Marsannay Rosé.
This is a gorgeous rosé with a light salmon pink color and a gorgeous floral perfume with berries and spice undertones. It has really lovely fruit and is supple, rounded and soft, but is bright and crisp underneath. Very pure with great finesse there are berry and cherry flavors intermingled with floral citrus notes and a tinge of spice. This is a really delicious rosé – Outstanding. $17.59 Best Buy Shipped by Jean Marie de Champs, Beaune, FR and Imported by Wine House LTD, San Francisco, CA
This is a small appellation located on the coast between Marseilles and Bandol. Perched on a bluff overlooking the sea, it is uniquely situated. And, it is unique in the Provencal wine region as white wine makes up 75% of its production. The rosé and white wines produced here include some of the most exquisite and finesseful of all the wines of Provence.
2011 Domaine Bagnol Cassis Rosé.
Pale salmon pink in color this rosé has a complex floral perfume with hints of herbs and spice and subtle nuances of strawberry and peach. It has great finesse and elegance with a complex layer of subtle flavors suggesting strawberry and peach with floral and spice undertones. Rounded and soft, there is a nice citrus tinge on the finish which offers a beautiful balance to the wine – Outstanding Plus. $24.99 Imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York, NY
Coteaux Varois en Provence
This area encompasses the central part of Provence and received its AOC status in 1993.
2011 Chateau De L’Escarelle Rosé Les Belles Bastilles Coteaux Varois en Provence.
This is a lovely rosé with a pale salmon pink color and a nice floral perfume with hints of strawberry. It is delicate with great finesse and flavors that hint of strawberry and citrus with a nice crisp finish – Highly Recommended. $14.50 Imported by Grand Cru Selections, New York, NY
Côtes de Provence
The Côtes de Provence is the largest of the 8 major wine areas of Provence with a history of making wine dating back to 600 BC. It comprises 75% of the area of Provence and 80% of its wine production is rosé. The Côtes de Provence is known world wide for its great rosés that have exquisite balance, finesse, and flavor (to read a previous article click here).
Earlier this year I wrote an article entitled Three Cru Classé Ladies of the Côtes de Provence (to read that article click here).
These three estates make lovely wines and the rosés are really delicious. All three make several different rosés, but not all are imported here. Below are notes on the three 2011 rosés from Chateau Roubine and one of the 2011 rosés from Chateau Saint Martin. A 2011 rosé from Chateau Sainte Roseline should arrive later.
Located in the middle of Provence, Chateau Roubine is one of the oldest wine estates in France. With a history dating back some 2600 years, it was owned by the Templars Order until the 13th century when it came under the ownership of the Saint James of Jerusalem Order. It was acquired by the Allaman family after the French revolution and then sold in 1855. In 1923 Henri de Rohan Chabot inherited Chateau Roubine and rented it to the Ott family. In 1994 it was acquired by Valérie Rousselle-Riboud and her husband, French fencing champion, Philippe Riboud.
Thirteen different varieties of grapes are grown at Chateau Roubine. Chateau Roubine today encompasses some 320 acres with 178 acres of vineyards surrounded by forests. An ancient Roman way called “Julienne” runs through the middle of the property. There is also a tasting room, winery, chateau, and guest quarters. Everything here is immaculate. This is a beautiful place to visit. (To visit the website click here)
2011 Chateau Roubine Rosé Cuvée Classique Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
This wine is made from 7 grape varieties – Cinsault, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Tobouren, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. It is the classic representation of Provencal rosé. I first tasted this wine at the Los Angeles Trade Tasting in April (to read that article click here). It was one of the stand-outs then and continues to show beautifully. Pale salmon pink in color with a faint golden hue the wine has a gorgeous floral perfume with a kiss of citrus and spice. It has great finesse and lovely flavors with floral notes and hints of peach and citrus – Outstanding. $19.99 Imported by European Wine Imports, Cleveland, OH
2011 Chateau Roubine Rosé Cuvée Prestige Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
The Cuvée Prestige bottles are embossed with the “Amalfitaine” cross, the symbol of the Templars, who were the ancient owners. The “Terre de Croix” rosés are made from a blend of Mouvèdre and Syrah. This 2011 is really lovely. Very pale salmon pink in color this rosé has a lovely floral perfume with nuances of peach and apricot and a faint suggestion of spice and herbs. It is rounded and supple with great finesse and has subtle flavors of peach and apricot and an underlying floral note – Outstanding Plus. $25 Imported by European Wine Imports, Cleveland, OH
2011 Chateau Roubine Rosé Inspire Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
Inspire is the Tête de Cuvée vintage bottling made only from the finest selection of grapes which may vary each year. Interestingly, the primary grape is always Tibouren which is a red grape grown almost exclusively in Provence. This 2011 is made from 95% Tibouren and 5% Grenache. Very pale salmon pink color with a golden tinge this wine has a lovely perfume with flowers, herbs, and spice intermingled with citrus and mineral nuances. It is refined with wonderful structure and balance. The flavors hint of herbs, citrus, and spice with subtle peach and apricot nuances and the finish is crisp with a citrus and mineral tinge – Outstanding Plus. $29.99 Imported by European Wine Imports, Cleveland, OH
Chateau Saint Martin
Vines were first planted here by the Romans in the 2nd century. From the 10th to the 18th centuries it was a monastery. And since 1740 it has been owned by the same family and passed down from mother to daughter. The energetic and knowledgeable Adeline de Barry took over from her mother, the Comtesse de Gasquet, in 1996. In October of 2011 Adeline received the Cross of the French Legion of Honor for her work and contribution to the region and its wines.
The estate encompasses some 250 acres with 125 acres in vineyards as well as an impressive chateau, winery, tasting room, and chapel. The Chateau was constructed in 1740. There are 4 rooms available for rent and reportedly one of them was used in filming Lady Chatterley’s Lover! Va Va Voom!! Chateau Saint Martin is a beautiful historic place with great charm and a wonderful place to visit. (To visit the website click here)
2011 Chateau Saint Martin Rosé Cuvée Grande Réserve Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
This rosé is made from Grenache, Tibouren, Cinsault, Carignan, and Syrah. It is a beauty. Very pale salmon pink in color with a faint golden hue the wine has a gorgeous floral perfume with hints of peach, citrus, and a faint tinge of apricot. The flavors are complex and wonderfully integrated with subtle hints of citrus, peach, apricot, and faint herbal spice nuances. Beautifully balanced, this is really a gorgeous rosé – Outstanding Plus. $17.50 Best Buy Imported by Transat Trade Company, Gardena, CA & Fine Terroirs, Watertown, CT
Saint-Chinian is considered to be the oldest winemaking area in the Languedoc-Roussillon region with a history dating back to the Romans. The wines made here were exported in ceramic vases to Rome. During the Middle Ages wine was made here by abbeys and monasteries. Saint-Chinian received its AOC (Appellation d’origine contrôlée) in 1982.
2011 Mas Champart Saint-Chinian Rosé.
This rosé is made with 60% Mourvèdre, 30% Cinsault, and 10% Syrah. It is light golden orange in color and has a lovely floral perfume with hints of apricot and peach. The wine has lovely fruit with apricot and citrus nuances and is crisp and balanced with a very faint petillance – Highly Recommended. $14.95 Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA
Tavel is the only appellation in France where only rosé can be produced. The appellation was created in 1936. Tavels are some of the fruitiest of all rosés and can match well with some heartier foods (like barbecue) and they also age very well. The Domaine Lafond’s origins date back to 1780. In 1970 the domaine added the name Roc-Epine which is a transformed spelling of the name of the famous trotting horse Roquepine. In 1978 Pascal, the son of Jean-Pierre, joined the team and they began estate bottling their wine. The Domaine Lafond Roc-EpineTavel is consistently lovely and this 2011 is no exception.
2011 Domaine Lafond Roc–Epine Tavel.
This wine is made with 60% Grenache, 10% Cinsault, 10% Syrah, Carignane 5% and the balance Clairette, Picpoul, Bourboulenc, and Mourvèdre.It is light red in color with a faint golden edge and has a lovely floral perfume with a hint of strawberry. Rounded and lush but with great underlying structure, this Tavel is brimming with fruit that is suggestive of strawberries and raspberries with nice floral citrus tinge – Outstanding. $16.50 Best Buy Imported by Michael Skurnik Wines Inc., Syosset, NY.
Just five minutes down the coast from San Sebastian, Ameztoi’s vineyards overlook the Atlantic Ocean. The Ameztoi family has been making Txakolina in Getaria for seven generations, utilizing the indigenous Hondarribi Zuri and Hondarribi Beltza grapes to craft a light, crisp wine bottled with residual carbon dioxide to give it its signature natural spritz.
2011 Amertoi Rubentis Txakolina Rosé.
This 2011 version continues the trend of rosés with the tongue twisting name. They are very light, crisp and delicate with a nice spritz that accentuates the freshness. The very pale salmon pink color gives an indication of what is to come. There is a faint perfume of strawberry with stony, mineral, citrus undertones. Very crisp with a nice underlying spritz, the flavors show faint hints of berry fruit accented by flavors of citrus and mineral – Highly Recommended. $21.99 Imported by De Maison Selections, Inc., Chapel Hill, NC
Many of California’s Chardonnays have followed the red wines in a pattern of full throttle often overly alcoholic wines (to read a recent article on this subject click here). The 2010 Franciscan Estate Chardonnay reviewed below is 14.5% alcohol but the fruit and underlying structure make it a wine that will accompany a wide variety of richer summer foods. Franciscan Estate was the first Napa Valley winery to adopt the traditional Burgundy method of fermenting Chardonnay with wild native yeasts. The name they adopted for this wine is Cuvée Sauvage. The year 2010 was a very cool year and undoubtedly also contributes to some of the purity found in this wine.
2010 Franciscan Estate Chardonnay Cuvée Sauvage Carneros, NapaValley.
Light yellow color with a lovely spice tinged perfume showing hints of citrus and minerals, this Chardonnay has lovely fruit with subtle hints of pear and peach and a floral spice undertone. There is a nice crispness on the finish that lends balance to the wine. It will be interesting to see how this evolves over a year or two – Highly Recommended. $40
Below are notes on relatively inexpensive white wines that are representative of the best that France has to offer. If you are not familiar with them you really owe it to yourself to give them a try.
Here are 3 great inexpensive White Burgundies that are new to me. The two Chablis’s are stunning and great values. Gérard Trimblay and his wife Helene inherited this domaine as the latest in a line of 5 generations. They are joined by their son, Vincent, and have 80 acres of vines in production with most of them in Premier Cru and Grand Cru appellations with many old vines. The Rully Blanc from the Côte de Chalonnais in Southern Burgundy is also terrific and a great buy. Jacques Bavard comes from a long line of wine growers. He is a small negociant located in Puligny Montrachet who specializes in working with organic and biodynamic growers.
2010 Gérard Tremblay Domaine Des Iles Chablis “Vieilles Vignes”.
The vines here are over 40 years old with most of them planted by Gérard’s father in 1957. This is a terrific village Chablis with lots of character. The wine is light yellow in color and the perfume is complex with floral pear nuances and hints of flintiness and citrus. The fruit is very pure and there are flint and citrus undertones with balanced acidity. Structured with depth and flavor, this is a gorgeous, value priced Chablis with real Chablis character – Outstanding. $18.99 Best Buy Shipped by Jean-Marie De Champs, Beaune, FR. Selected by K&L Wine Merchants and Imported by Latitude Wines Inc., Danville, CA
2010 Gérard Tremblay Domaine De Iles Chablis Fourchaume Premier Cru Vieilles Vignes.
Wow! This is a terrific Chablis that drinks like a Grand Cru. The vines here are over 50 years old having been planted in 1951. Light yellow in color there is a lovely perfume that opens with air to reveal floral citrus nuance with underlying hints of citrus and a distinct flintiness. The wine has great fruit, but is very precise with focused laser-like crispness offering hints of citrus and a stony flinty quality. The richness of the fruit and the great underlying structure and complexity offers a glimpse of what lies ahead. This is a great Chablis in the making. All it needs is time. Patience – Outstanding Plus. $26.99 Best Buy Shipped by Jean-Marie De Champs, Beaune, FR. Selected by K&L Wine Merchants and Imported by Latitude Wines Inc., Danville, CA
2008 Jacques Bovard Rully Blanc.
From the terrific 2008 vintage this wine really sings with its combination of fruit and richness and terrific underlying acidity as expressed in lemon lime flavors. It is light yellow in color and has a nice citrus tinged perfume with hints of pineapple. The fruit is very pure and there very engaging textures and flavors. This is a terrific wine that is much better than its humble name and modest price would suggest. If you love expressive white wines with a nice interplay and Yin and Yang like I do, then you will love this. And the $17.99 price is a real deal – Outstanding. $17.99 Best Buy Selected by K&L Wine Merchants and Imported by Latitude Wines Inc., Danville, CA
White wines from Bandol are quite rare. This one is a beauty.
2011 Domaine De Terrebrune Bandol Blanc.
This is a lovely wine made from Clairette, Ugni Blanc, and Bourboulenc. Not many are probably familiar with these grapes or this blend, but this is a wine that is hard not to love. It is pale yellow in color and has a faint floral perfume that is accented by hints of lichee and citrus with a faint whiff of spice. It is a gorgeous beautifully balanced wine of great finesse and flavor. There is a marriage of complex flavors suggesting citrus, herbs, spice and peach that are intertwined and subtle and the finish is long and crisp – Outstanding Plus. $32 Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA
This is the area of Provence specializing in white wines. Situated on the sea, the wines are a perfect match with the local fish. This wine from Domaine De Bagnol really sings and is the perfect match for seafood of all kinds.
2009 Domaine De Bagnol Cassis Blanc.
This wine has a light yellow color and a stunning perfume with hints of bergamot and pineapple and a touch of spice. The flavors are complex and faintly exotic with hints of citrus, peach, and pineapple and a faint floral spice nuance. Beautifully integrated, this is a great wine of finesse, complexity and balance – Outstanding Plus. $23.99 Imported by Neal Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York, NY
Côtes de Provence
2011 Régine Sumiere Chateau la Tour de l’ Evéque Blanc de Blancs.
This wine is made from 67% Rolle and 33% Semillon. It is pale yellow in color and has a lovely perfume with citrus and a faint touch of spice. It is elegant with subtle fruit flavors hinting of melon and citrus with a suggestion of peach. Rounded and balanced the wine has nice crispness on the finish – Highly Recommended. $19 Imported by Plume Ridge, Claremont, CA
Make no mistake about it the Loire Valley makes some of the best balanced and food friendly wines in the world. Sancerres are textbook examples of wines that are complex and flavorful without being heavy (to read my article on Sancerre click here). They are among my favorite wines to drink and here are a couple of new ones – one is a new 2011 release from one of my very favorite producers, Thomas-Labaille, and another 2010 from a producer that is new to me, Domaine Girard.
2010 Domaine Girard Sancerre La Garenne.
Pale yellow in color this Sancerre has a gorgeous perfume that is faintly floral and citrus tinges with hints of mineral. It has lovely fruit and richness with an underlying crispness and is beautifully balanced. The flavors hint of grapefruit and hints of pear and herbs with a mineral nuance. This is really nice – Outstanding. $23 Louis/Dressner Selections, Imported by LDM Wines Inc., New York, NY
2011 Claude and Florence Thomas-Labaille Sancerre Chavignol Les Monts Damnés.
Year in and year out, this is one of the greatest Sancerres. This newly released 2011 is another winner. It is pale yellow in color with a lovely perfume showing floral grapefruit notes and a touch of minerality. It is extremely elegant and beautifully balanced yet has marvelous flavors and depth. Grapefruit and peach are intertwined with floral mineral and herbal nuances and the wine is refined with a wonderful crispness on the finish – Outstanding Plus. $27 Louis/Dressner Selections, Imported by LDM Wines Inc., New York, NY
Often overlooked in the line up of New Zealand wines are the Chardonnays (to see my article on New Zealand wines click here). This is a very nice one that should repay a bit of bottle age as it was at first a bit restrained and opened after the second day to show more perfume and depth of flavor. The production was only 345 cases.
2010 Te Whare Ra Chardonnay Marlborough, NZ.
Pale yellow in color this Chardonnay exhibits nice citrus mineral tinged perfume with faint floral hints and a bit of peach. With air it opens to show a faint honeyed quality and more fruit. This is a lovely elegant Chardonnay that has very pure fruit and a nice underlying crispness. With air there are hints of peach and citrus with a faint mineral tinge and a lovely faint honeyed nuance. This is an engaging style of Chardonnay with a lot of finesse – Highly Recommended. $24.99 Imported by Kirkcrest Imports, Danville, CA