Monday, May 30, 2011

Tasting Notes: Summer Sippers

Well, it's that time of year again. People in other parts of the country call it summer. We call it, "OMG when did it get so hot and humid?" I think we Southerners have the same kind of thing happen to us that women who have children do. Every year, as we go into the cool, crisp days of fall, the painful memories recede until it's time to do it all over again, and then we tell our husbands, "It's too hot! You're not getting near me again!" Sometimes, as during our recent harsh winter, we even yearn for temperature ninety-five, heat index of you-don't-wanna-know.

All that to say, it's time to start drinking... We tried most of the wines mentioned below at recent JavaMonkey tastings. This is my attempt at an artistic picture from the last one:

Summer sippers need to have three qualities: refreshing, inexpensive, and dangit, they'd better make you look hot in that swimsuit! Okay, maybe just the first two. After a couple of glasses, you won't care what you look like in that tankini.

Let's start with whites...

One of the most reasonable and interesting whites is Vinho Verde, which comes from Portugal. Yes, the name is translated as "green wine," and it has a slightly green tint to it in the right lights. Don't worry, it's not green enough to send your toddler running (although that might be useful). The 2008 Quinta da Aveleda Vinho Verde (Vinho Verde, Portugal) is made of 60% Laureiro, 10% Alvarino, and 30% Trajadera. It's got a nice mineral backbone with some citrus and pineapple, and it's even a little fizzy. The Cashal Garcia, which may be more widely distributed, is also very good.

If you're looking for something a little more floral, the 2009 Quinta do Crasto White (Duoro, Portugal) will give you the sweet floral nose of your neighbor's gardenias without the mosquito bites. It's well-balanced with some melon and also made from a bunch of grapes I've never heard of (45% Rabogato, 40% Gaveo, and 15% Rapero).

Another reasonable option comes from across the border in Spain. The 2009 Nora Albarino (Rias Baixas, Spain) is 100% Albarino and has great body for a white without being syrupy or heavy. It also has a nice balance of floral and citrus with some lime coming through.

If you want to go classy, there are always bubbles!

One that's easy to find and easy to afford is the Saint-Hlaire Blanquette de Limoux (current vintage 2008). With 90% Malzac, 5% Chenin Blanc, and 5% Chardonnay, it has apple (but not fruit box) notes and good body.

Quick shout-out: the Saint-Hilaire and Albarino were both selections by Dan Browning at our recent tasting collaboration.

If you want to splurge, think pink with the Louis de Grenelle Brut Rose (Saumur, France). It has a yeasty nose and very delicate strawberry flavors. It's made 100% from Cabernet Franc. If you want something a little closer to home but just as good, try the Wolf Mountain Brut Rose, which is one of my all-time favorites.

But let's not forget my favorite thing about summer: peach pie!

If you're wondering why all the mommy references, it's because this coming Friday is our next Women of Decatur tweetup: 6:00 p.m. at the Palate side of McGowan's/Palate in Oakhurst. Non-mommies are welcome, too.