VOICE OF THE VINE
Wining Al Fresco
By Abby Cifarelli
Now that it’s officially summer, enjoying a glass of wine in the company of friends — at a distance — is not out of the question. Whether you’re planning a long, leisurely lunch in the sun or dinner as the sun goes down, here are two wines you’ll want to give a place at the table.
As the temperature heats up, one of the best ways to cool down is with a chilled glass of white. Lighter bodied whites such as Sauvignon Blanc offer the crisp, acidic, and refreshing taste we crave this time of year. On the left bank of the Loire Valley in France, sits a picturesque hilltop village called Sancerre, home of Sauvignon Blanc. All white wine produced here must be 100 percent of the grape varietal. What makes Sancerre so special? The area is made up of a chalky limestone and clay soil that uniquely turns white when dry. The combination of the soil and continental climate gives Sancerre the ability to produce complex wines that are overwhelmingly fresh.
My first recommendation is the Jean-Max Roger Sancerre Cuvée Les Caillottes 2018. Pour yourself a glass and you’ll notice a straw–yellow color. So, right off the bat, you can see this wine has depth and character. Give it a swirl and aromas of citrus, grapefruit, melon, and apples jump out of the glass. There is also a touch of earthiness to the wine and minerality that is a direct nod to the unique soil of Sancerre. On the palate is where the real party begins, although this wine is light and dry there is a lot going on. Almost immediately, you should find similar flavors from the nose such as citrus, apple, and minerality. The vivacious acidity coats your palate and leaves your mouth watering, begging for a second sip.
Sancerre’s racing acidity gives it the ability to stand up to all kinds of dishes. If you’re going to start with this wine for cocktails, have goat cheese nearby as this is quite possibly the most perfect cheese and wine pairing out there. Sancerre is great with salads, too, such as an orange, walnut, gorgonzola, and mixed green salad with fresh citrus vinaigrette. It also pairs well with a variety of seafood. Try it with grilled sea bass.
The backyard barbecues of summer often include a soundtrack of hits, like “Born in the USA”, “American Girl”, and “Hot Fun in the Summertime”. It would only be fitting to match those songs up to a wine made in America, especially the Central Coast of California, one of the most varied wine-growing regions in the country. The Central Coast makes up 352 miles of coastline from San Francisco to Santa Barbara. California is well known for producing delicious red wines from grape varieties such as Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel. Syrah is a grape that is most famous in other parts of the world, like France and Australia; it is a thick-skinned black grape that needs a moderate to warm climate to fully ripen and gives you spicy characteristics you won’t find in other red wines. This edge has given Syrah the opportunity to become an important grape varietal in California in recent years and is a red wine you shouldn’t shy away from enjoying in warmer weather.
My second selection is the Qupe Central Coast Syrah 2017. Once you pour yourself a glass, you may be surprised to find you have a wine that is lighter in body compared to other California reds. A beautiful deep purple fills your glass, and, as you give it a swirl, prominent aromas of blackberry, red tart fruit, and vanilla come forward. The palate is beautifully light and refreshing. The aromatic characteristics that you found on the nose are also found on the palate; however, the spicy and savory attributes of the Syrah grape do not go unnoticed.
On a sweltering hot summer day, you may not think to grab a red wine, however, this Qupe Central Coast Syrah is an easy–drinking, lighter bodied red that is delicious and refreshing when chilled. And if you’re grilling hamburgers, pulled pork, or lamb chops, this is the wine to serve.
The two featured wines are available at G. Griffin Wine on Forest Avenue, and both Harrison Wine Vault and Wine at Five offer similar selections.