Rumor has it that summer is winding down to an end here in Portland. As much as I am in denial about this I’ve realized all good things must (eventually) come to an end. This is sad for me since I am summers biggest fan and believe there are few people in the world who love this season as much as I do. Being from Phoenix, AZ (where it is practically summer year round) it must be in my blood.
My summer ’09 was filled with lots of travel, outdoor activities, testing recipes on our new smoker, and exploring new wines, which more often than not meant a lot of crisp refreshing white wines. It has been pointed out to me by a few friends that I am somewhat of a “seasonal” oenophile (not that I only drink wine during specific seasons… au contraire… more so, I often drink ones that reflects the weather or occasion). When there is a beautiful hot summer day, or when I have returned from a hike or workout, I want to drink something cold and refreshing. Alternatively, when it is cold and snowy I want to drink something that will warm my body and soul, like a full bodied red next to the fireplace while reading a good book. I prefer to think of these as “occasion” wines because I believe there is a wine for all occasions, seasons, and moods.
I also don’t rate the wines I drink on a number scale because I don’t think it’s fair nor necessary for purpose of this particular blog. A wine I loved yesterday because it hit the spot at that right moment may not satisfy me another day. On the flip side an amazing full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon just may not have been appropriate for a blazing 100 degree afternoon, but may be perfect with dinner indoors, or sipping by the fire. That being said, I’d rather “rate” a wine, so to speak, on how well if reflects the moods, occasions, or meals that it is being consumed with. This summer, for example, was filled with gorgeous warm (and quite often hot) days and I spent much of that time outside in my backyard or going on long bike rides and hikes, therefore I drank a lot of crisp white wine this summer as well as a lot of bubbles. But of course, if you have read more than one post here you probably already know I need absolutely no reason to open bubbles. They are good for every single occasion and mood. Even on a cold and gloomy day I will still open up a bottle and daydream of summers to come. But let's not get off the subject talking about bubbles.
Earlier this summer I set out on a mission to find new summer wines to drink throughout the season. I wrote about some of them on this blog, and many I just drank carefree, not focusing on writing notes or information about them, but continued to re-purchase them throughout the summer months.
So as we move from summer into the “f” word (like I said, I’m in denial), I will leave you with some of my favorites. These all fit into my “summer value wine” criteria of being less than $20 and everyday wines that I actually re-purchased again and again. Of course, I drank and discovered many other fantastic wines this summer, but these are specifically those with the intention of being everyday wines at inexpensive prices perfect for the season.
Top Summer Discovery: Txakolina
Txakolina: specifically from producer Ameztoi, 2008, both their regular Txakolina and the Rosé.
Don’t let the name intimidate you. This is a super refreshing slightly effervescent wine from Spain that will hit the spot on a warm summer day. Click here to read the full review of the Rosé. I could not get enough of this wine. When I wasn’t drinking it at home, I was ordering it at one of my favorite wine bars, Vino Paradiso, who had it on their menu for a couple months this summer. At $20, this wine was at the high end of my “value” scale but well worth it!
Vinho Verde: Specifically Broadbent Vinho Verde. Another effervescent wine that proved time and time again to be a thirst quencher all summer. The nice thing about most Vinho Verdes that I drank was their low alcohol content (averaging 9%). That way you can drink a glass or two in the afternoon and not be loopy before dinner! Retail: $9.99
Müller Thurgau: Specifically Anne Amie 2008 Cuvée A Müller Thurgau. Crisp and dry with citrus aromas of lemon, lemon peel, apple, with some floral notes. This is a dry and refreshing wine, a wonderful summer sipper, and would also be great with seafood dishes like mussels or clams. Retail: $14
Gruner Veltliner: Check out the 2007 Berger Niederoesterreich Gruner Veltliner, from Austria. It comes in a 1 liter bottle (rather than a standard 750 ml) so it's great for summer gatherings since it serves many. Cirtusy, crisp, and clean with lots of green apple. A great bargain too at approx $13 for the 1 liter bottle!
Argentinean Malbec, especially:
2007 Tomero Malbec, from Mendoza, Argentina: I purchased this wine over and over from cork • a bottle shop. It’s such a great value at approx $12 with rich fruit and soft tannins. Great bbq wine!
2008 Gouguenheim Malbec Valle Escondido, also from Mendoza, Argentina: This was actually one of the few red wines (in the summer quest category) that I felt motivated to write about on the blog. Fruit forward, rich fruit, and only $11. I’ve seen this wine at quite a few locations locally, including cork • a bottle shop and whole foods.
Favorite "go to" value bubbles of the season:
Rotari Brut Sparkling Wine from Italy: $11.99
Domaine Rosier Brut Blanquette de Limoux (NV): Crisp yet slightly creamy on the palate. $11.99
In addition to the above wines, I experimented with many wines specifically because of their region, including:
Argentinean and Chilean red wines (great values)
California Zinfandel (great with many of the smoked and grilled meats we experimented with this summer). But pay attention to the alcohol level! Many Zins (especially from CA) can exceed 16% alcohol, which can often kill most food you pair with it, so look for those in the 13-14% range for a better food and wine pairing experience! Believe me, your palate will thank me.
Now, since fffff (spit it out) FALL is in the air you know I’ll be on a similar mission to find some good fall value wines to pair with the bounty of fall foods and holidays coming up. I’m ready for the challenge!
Since it is still summer out there for many of you, please go out and seek some of the above summer wines and let me know what you think. For more reviews of some of the summer wines I wrote about click here.
Cheers to my favorite season of all… Summer!