The concept of Summer Sippers was born out of a desire to expose my followers to the true taste and character of rosé wine. For years I expounded on how the White Zinfandel craze of the 1980’s ruined American’s true understanding of the beauty of a crisp, abundantly-floral, pink glass of wonderfulness.
Over time, my focus on rosé wines expanded to include whites and reds that would be appropriate accompaniments to the heat, humidity, and grilled fare that defines Summer in New England. At today’s tasting, we took a trip through twelve noteworthy wines and three exceptional cheeses, all perfect for a hot summer’s day.
First the wines.
2017 Kiralyudvar Tokaji Furmint Sec, Hungary
A favorite of the tasting. Aromatic, but delicate. Floral, honeyed with peach, apricot and citrus notes. Medium-bodied with firm acidity. Well-balanced. Broad palate with a crisp, refreshing finish. Delightful.
2020 Txomin Etxaniz, Getariako Txakolina, Spain
(85% Hondarrabi Zuri and 15% Hondarrabi Beltza)
Another great wine. Lovely nose with wet stone, honeysuckle and citrus notes. Light-bodied with racy acidity. Well-balanced with a tart, mouth-watering palate. Crisp and refreshing with great minerality. Splendid.
2020 Estate Argyros Atlantis, Santorini, Greece
(90% Assyrtiko, 5% Aidani, and 5% Athiri)
Made for Summer. Citrusy nose with light floral notes. Medium-bodied with firm acidity. Well-balanced with a lemony, citrus palate. Made for grilled octopus, drizzled in olive oil. Crisp and refreshing. Charming.
2021 Zarate Albariño, Rias Baixas Val Do Salnés, Spain
Amazing wine. Strong minerality in the nose with citrus and wildflower notes. Medium-bodied with firm acidity. Well-balanced and very drinkable. Layered palate with lovely peach, lemon and grapefruit notes. Crisp and refreshing. Stunning.
2020 Rezabal, Getariako Txakolina Rosé, Spain
Unique. Light, fruity nose with strawberry, raspberry and orange blossom notes. Light-bodied with a slight petulance and racy acidity. Well-balanced with red berry and stone fruit on the palate. Crisp finish. More an aperitif than an accompaniment.
2020 Santa Margherita Rosé, Tre Venezie, Italy
(Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Nero)
Disappointing. The wine lacked balance and crispness and clung to the palate unattractively. Everyone expected more – even the color was unattractive.
2021 La Spinetta Il Rosé di Casanova, Toscana, Italy
(50% Sangiovese, 50% Prugnolo Gentile)
Truly magical wine. La Spinetta has yet to make a bad wine, in my humble opinion and the Casanova is no exception. Beautifully floral nose with wild berry and baking spice notes. Medium-bodied with firm acidity. Well-balanced with a broad, flavorful palate. Unfolding layers of complexity and yet totally unassuming. Crisp finish. Simply perfect.
2021 Mas de Gourgonnier, Les Baux de Provence Rosé, France
(65% Grenache, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 13% Mourvèdre)
One can’t put together a flight of Summer wines without something from Les Baux de Provence being in the mix. The Mas de Gourgonnier is usually a perennial favorite and while folks liked the wine this time around, most found that it lacked the crispness and acidity that truly enlivens a Summer Sipper. Pretty nose with wild flowers and wild berry notes. Medium-bodied with moderate acidity. Okay balance with a somewhat clumsy palate. Lacking crispness and focus.
2018 La Spinetta Ca’ di Pian, Barbera d’Asti, Italy
Another incredible wine from La Spinetta. Perhaps the perfect Summer red. Powerful nose, almost jammy with an intensely dark color. Medium-bodied with moderate acidity. Well-balanced with a bright, charming palate. Fresh cherries, menthol and black pepper on the palate. Tight, clean finish. Perfect accompaniment to the grill. Just spectacular wine.
2018 Bertani Valpolicella Ripasso, Italy
(85% Corvina Veronese, 10% Merlot, and 5% Rondinella)
Charming. Cooked fruit with baking spice on the nose. Medium-bodied with moderate acidity. Well-balanced with a broad, but slightly restrained palate. Bright red fruit with classic Ripasso notes – stewed fruit, exotic spice and raisins. Long finish, with a touch of smoke. Ideal with slow-cooked grilled meats.
2017 Gustaferro Memini, Irpinia Aglianico, Italy
Another charming red. Full, fruity nose with minerality and black pepper. Medium-bodied with firm acidity. Well-balanced with a dark fruit palate. Black cherry with black pepper and violet notes. Moderate length, crisp. Seductive.
2020 Bedrock Wine Co. Old Vine Zinfandel, Sonoma County, USA
A huge favorite. Big and brawny in the nose. Full-bodied with moderate acidity. Well-balanced with a broad, full palate. Jammy fruit with classic Zinfandel spiciness. Long finish with a dark, brooding character. Another perfect accompaniment to the grill.
Next up, the cheese.
Garrotxa is a goat’s milk cheese produced in the Catalonia region in northern Spain. This artisanal Garrotxa is made in a traditional manner by a small family creamery known for its consistently high quality, and it shows! The beautiful wheels have a semi-soft and compact texture and a light but noticeable coating of velvety, blue-grey mold. The flavor is milky and delicate with a hint of nuttiness and a clean, smooth finish.
Country: Spain; Milk Type: Goat; Cheese Type: Firm
Brebirousse d’Argental is a semi-soft, washed-rind cheese from the Rhone-Alpes region of France. The name literally translated is “Red Sheep,” and is named for the red-tinged coats of the sheep that provide the milk to make these wondrous cheeses. It is characteristically aromatic with a strong, savory flavor.. The texture of the cheese is moist-to-oozy with a very pleasant melt-in-your-mouth feel. The combination of the soft texture, pungent aroma, and buttery flavors has proven to be addictive especially when spread on fresh crusty bread.
Country: France; Milk Type: Sheep; Cheese Type: Washed-Rind
Appenzeller White is a creamy, savory Alpine cheese. It has a delicate flavor and is described as mellow, smooth, and “snackable.” Appenzeller is a semi-soft, cow’s milk cheese from the Appenzell region of Switzerland. It has a pale, yellowish-orange color and a firm texture. The cheese is bathed in a mixture of wine, spices, and salt, which produces an orange rind that is hard and dry. Appenzeller is classified as a Swiss-type or Alpine cheese. It has a rich, complex flavor and is ideal for fondue or when served raclette-style. It also melts well and can be enjoyed as a simple dessert cheese. Appenzeller has been made in the Eastern region of Switzerland by alpine herdsmen for over 700 years.
Country: Switzerland; Milk Type: Cow; Cheese Type: Hard
So ends another installment of Summer Sippers. All but two wines hit the mark and the best news is that all the wines averaged between $18.99 and $24.99 a bottle, before any discount.