This time around, instead of talking about a specific type of wine or wine region, I am taking you on a trip around the world to explore some wines and grape varieties that may or may not be familiar but are perfect for warm weather sipping.
2016 Les Costieres de Pomerols, H. B. Picpoul de Pinet: Languedoc-Roussillon, France. This wine is made from 100% Picpoul, a local grape from the sun-drenched hillsides of the Mediterranean coastal region. It is the perfect easy-drinking summer wine, with loads of citrus and melon fruit aromas and flavors. The zippy acidity and fresh, clean finish make this the ideal pair with oysters and shellfish, as well as grilled fish and seafood bisque. It’s a bargain at $10.
2015 Herència Altés, Garnatxa Blanca: Terra Alta, Spain. Wines from this remote region of northeastern Spain are gaining a reputation for quality and value. Made from the indigenous Garnatxa Blanca grape, this wine was aged for two months on its lees, adding texture and complexity to its aromas and flavors of peach and citrus, with floral notes and a hint of white pepper. It is fresh and clean but rounded and great with gazpacho, olives and grilled shrimp. Priced at about $12.
2015 Préselő, Tokaji Furmint: Tokaji, Hungary. Furmint is one of the grape varieties used to make one of the world’s great sweet dessert wines, Tokaji Aszú. Here Furmint is used to make this elegant and crisp dry white wine. Most of the juice was fermented in stainless steel, with the remainder fermented and aged in barrel. Intense aromas and flavors of peach, pear, citrus and a hint of salinity lead to the long, clean finish. Serve with grilled fish, chicken and vegetables. Priced in the mid-teens.
2016 Mayu, Pedro Ximenez: Elqui Valley, Chile. Pedro Ximenez, or PX, is the grape usually seen in Spain’s sweet dessert wine of the same name. This single vineyard, old vine, dry PX comes from one of Chile’s highest altitude vineyards. The wine offers up floral aromas with notes of stone fruit and citrus. The palate is balanced with crisp acidity and minerality. Great with shellfish and grilled seafood. Priced in the mid-teens.
2016 Tiefenbrunner, Pinot Bianco: Süditrol-Alto Adige, Italy. Made from 100% Pinot Bianco (also called Weisburgunder), this white wine from northern Italy is aged for four months on the lees in steel tanks. The nose is fruity, with apple and tropical fruit aromas. The taste is elegant, crisp and fresh with a long, smooth finish. Perfect when paired with sushi, linguine with clam sauce and pasta primavera. Priced in the mid-teens.
2016 Hugl Weine, Zweigelt Rosé: Niederösterreich, Austria. Zweigelt was created in 1922, when Fritz Zweigelt crossed the two grape varieties St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch. It is now the most widely planted red grape in Austria. This medium-bodied Rosé is loaded with fruity aromas and flavors of red cherry and strawberry with a hint of cinnamon. The perfect picnic wine, it pairs well with fried chicken and summer salads. Also great with grilled shrimp and will cool the heat of spicy foods. A value at $10.
2016 Elisabeth & Francois Jourdan, Aramon Vieilles Vignes Rosé: Languedoc-Roussillon, France. The Aramon grape variety is grown mainly in this region of southern France. This delicate Rosé is surprisingly complex with citrus, raspberry and strawberry aromas and flavors, with a hint of melon, cherry and minerality. The finish is fresh and crisp. Enjoy with shrimp or crab, grilled fish and mild cheeses. Priced in the mid-teens.
2015 Centonze, Frappato: Sicily, Italy. If you are looking for a summer red, look no further than this wine made with organic Frappato grapes from Sicily. This medium-bodied wine is lush and ripe with raspberry and strawberry fruit. The finish is crisp and fresh and will make your mouth water. Think pork ribs, burgers and barbeque with this versatile red. Priced in the high-teens.
2013 Ramos, Vinho Tinto Reserva: Alentejo, Portugal. This wine is a blend of the native Alentejo grape varieties Trincadeira and Aragonez along with a touch of Syrah. It is unoaked, fresh and fruity, making it a delightful summer red. Aromas and flavors of ripe, red berry fruit and a touch of dried herbs, with soft tannins and a long, smooth finish. Pair with red meats, grilled sausages and strong cheeses. A lot of wine for $14.
2016 Donkey & Goat, Lily’s Pet Nat: Anderson Valley, Calif. Here’s one out of left field. Pet Nat is short for Pétillant Natural, a method for producing sparkling wine that predates the Méthod Traditional process of secondary fermentation in the bottle used to make Champagne. After fermentation begins, but before it is complete, the wine is bottled where the fermentation continues to create bubbles. This is a natural wine produced without stabilization, fining or filtering, so you will find it a little cloudy with some sediment in the bottle. Made with Chardonnay, you get aromas of orchard fruit, bright citrus and a touch of spice with floral and earthy notes. This sparkler is easy to drink, silky smooth with a touch of sweetness and a crisp finish. Pairs well with fried chicken and fried seafood. Priced in the upper $30s.
These wines are available here in Maryland but may be a challenge to find, so ask your favorite wine person to help find these or similar wines. Cheers.
Sam Audia is a former advertising and marketing professional with more than 20 years of experience in the wine and spirits industry. He is a Wine Specialist at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis, holds a Certification Diploma from the Sommelier Society of America and Intermediate and Advanced Certificates from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. He can be reached at [email protected].