SEATTLE — September 16, 2014 — When I first ventured on this write-up, the premise was a “summer guide to wine” as most of the wines sent in for submission were poised as “summertime wines”. About half way through the tasting process, the thought occurred of, “If I call this a summertime guide, its doing nothing but help the notion that certain wines are seasonal”.
While the seasonal argument may hold up in the kinds of wines which sell the most during the summer, it is also self-defeating to the wine industry as a whole. A large issue in the wine business is the notion of things like “we only drink Rosé during the summer” and “good Zinfandel is only great with barbecue”.
It’s easy to understand why words like these utter from the mouths of many wine lovers, I’d like to challenge that status-quo.
The reason is simple, during the entire lifetime of a wine lover, one should always keep trying as many wines as possible and during all seasons of the year. While there’s little doubt a slightly-chilled Rosé is great on the back patio while eating picnic food, it’s also a wine that is stellar with many holiday foods and frankly, most any time of the year.
This is the first of many articles that you’ll see from me in the future on “wines that don’t suck”.
So with that introduction out of the way, I’m proud to present to you wines are great to enjoy every month of the year.
2013 Pedroncelli Rose of Zinfandel – California
Delicious notes of cherry, watermelon, strawberry-rhubarb marmalade and raspberry. An extremely red-fruit driven Rosé which has a very full-bodied mid palate and a lingering, refreshing finish.
2013 Tsillan Rose of Syrah – Washington State
An off-dry Rosé that is going to cater to the crowd who prefer things a tad sweeter. A very full, found palate with notes of watermelon, strawberry, raspberry and sweet cherry. Lingering finish that beckons to be paired with fried chicken.
2013 Kennedy Shaw Rosé – Washington State
A rosé that screams “summer time” – flavors of fresh watermelon, strawberries, white pepper with a good sense of minerality. Gorgeous color, fruit, mid palate and lingering finish make it a must have for picnics and other summer fair.
Notorious Pink – France
A slightly sweet Rosé than the other two here but certainly does a great job of catering to those who like this style. It’s not a “sweet wine” per se but has just enough residual sugar to sort of round things out on the finish a bit. It’d be a no-brainer wine with spicy Asian foods or even a fruit salad.
2010 Tahun Bonarda – Argentina
An easy wine to wrap your palate around as it offers up a very good combination of blueberry and black fruits such as black plum, blackberry compote and a hint of black cherry. Lush, full tannins wrap themselves around the tongue like a long-lost lover. A wine that not only lends itself well to grilled foods but one you should consider year ’round.
2013 MAAL Biutiful Malbec – Argentina
A wine that reminds me of why the USA should “give up” when it comes to competing with Argentina in the Malbec arena. At a retail price of $19 dollars, this is a wine that can easily go head to head with domestic Malbec at three to four times its price. The notes of blackberry, currant, Marion berry, leather, fig, tobacco and dark chocolate love the tongue more seriously than Casanova did the ladies back in the 1700s.
2011 Steven Kent Winery Cabernet Franc – California
A wine that captures the essence of Cabernet Franc that this reviewer adores and that’s the vegetal action and beautiful fruit. The grilled asparagus notes are brilliantly integrated with that of huckleberry, Marion berry, leather laces, golden raisins, cocoa powder and pink peppercorns. A lightweight wine with a heavyweight character. Solid fruit, acidity and tannin structure with a beautifully long finish.
2011 Vigilance Cimarron – California
Beautiful notes of blackberry, tar bubble, leather glove, Bing cherries, allspice and vanilla. Easily a wine to pair with many dishes year’ round. Its profile would do well with everything from veal and pasta to truffle-infused mashed potatoes.
2012 Pedroncelli Sangiovese – California
Bright raspberries with notes of garden herbs, white pepper, clove and leather. An all-around easy-drinking Sangiovese that has a good finish on it and begs to be pair with a lamb ragu or pizza.
2012 Steven Kent Winery Pinot Meune – California
Cedar chest, loose leaf tobacco, tart cherry, cranberry, white pepper rhubarb and Nerds’ sour candies are among a number of the great aromas coming out of the glass with this wine. It starts off with lovely flavors of cedar plank and quickly builds some stellar tartness on the mid palate but keeps it smooth. The finish is clean and relatively long – a beautiful wine.
2011 Frank Family Vineyards Zinfandel – California
An intense bouquet of sandalwood, fresh sage, pink peppercorns, raspberry, Bing cherries, tobacco and Mexican chocolate. The great thing about this wine is the nearly endless food pairing possibilities – from grilled meats, barbecue or an herb-crusted chicken.
2012 Edmeades Mendocino Zinfandel – California
Dig that cherry-cola, raspberry-infused, spice-laced action one gets right off the bat with this wine. It’s punctuated with flavors of blackberry compote, plums, dark chocolate and pepper. An easy drinker for summertime grilled foods or even the Thanksgiving table.
Riunite Lambrusco – Italy
A semi-sparkling red that is extremely vibrant and simply dazzles across the palate. It uses a secondary fermentation process called Charmat to produce the bubbles. At only 8% alcohol, it’s easily a wine folks could free-base at pizza and pasta parties.
2011 Raffaldini Montepulciano Riserva – North Carolina
A wine that absolutely begs to be pounded, repeatedly with artisan pizzas and grilled flat breads. A masterful mix of fruit acids and tannin combined in an old-world style which this reviewer adores. Lovely flavors of pencil lead, blueberry, tanned leather, pipe tobacco, mushroom, Marion berry and plum sauce. A lush mouth feel but still retains beautiful acidity to help pair very well with food. The inviting finish hangs out for hours and entices you to come back again and again.
2010 Porrera Vi De Vila – Spain
Beautiful notes of lightly toasted vanilla, raspberries, cigar, quince, allspice and baseball glove. A very easy-drinking wine even if it’s listed at 15% alcohol as the wine is well balanced with acidity and tannin. An incredibly long finish and roundness of the palate beckons the wine drink to hit it over and over again.
2010 Corvus Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon – Washington State
Bing cherries, crushed tobacco leaf, dark chocolate, fresh red clay, star anise and a hint of Christmas spices as well. A lush, very Red Mountain, Cab that has the benefit of the cool 2010 vintage which brings about a bit more acidity to the table but still has all the fruit we love in a good cab. The front attack is assertive but not overpowering and the mid-palate all the way to the finish are very enticing.
2011 Corvus Cellars Cuvee – Washington State
Blackberry marmalade, blueberry jam, fig, black licorice, tobacco leaf and lightly spiced dark chocolate bombard the nose and palate in an ultra-inviting way. An ultra-inviting wine that represents a clear example of the many values one can find from Washington State. An elegant wine that shows great cellar potential of 12-18 years and one that drinks superb now with several hours of decanting.
2012 Canoe Ridge Cherry Street Red – Washington State
A splendid medley of cherries, currant, cigar smoke, blackberry pie filling, black plums, horse saddle, peppercorns and violets. A Syrah-dominate wine that begs for barbeque – pay no attention to the back label that says this is a “Bordeaux style blend” as it is mostly Rhone varietals – 54% Syrah, 30% Malbec, and 16% Grenache. A wine that drinks very well now and goes extremely well with grilled foods.
2013 Padrillos Torrontes – Argentina
Gorgeous notes of banana, jasmine, river rock, Myer lemon zest, spiced mandarin oranges, earl gray tea and a hint of kiwi. If you haven’t yet discovered the beauty that is Torrontes, this is a great “gateway drug” wine into that varietal. It has the fruit, acidity and body we adore in any white wine and is a no-brainer pick for summer.
2011 Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay Robert Young Vineyard – California
Light notes of cantaloupe, mango, Meyer lemon, ginger blossoms and elderberry. A nice acid and fruit balance that culminates into a well-integrated, lengthy finish.
2012 Freemark Abbey Viognier – California
Jasmine tea, candied pears, golden apples, peaches, kiwi, mango and a hint of pineapple. A beautifully crafted Viognier that is one of the best I’ve had from California in recent memory. It has all the classic elements of why we love this grape with a nice, round, mouth feel that leads into a very long, elegant finish.
2012 Frank Family Vineyard Chardonnay – California
Fruit forward with cascading waves of floral action, fresh pineapple, butterscotch, green apples and Bosc pears. Good structure through the mid palate thanks to the acidity and mouth feel this wine has going for it.
2013 Pepi Pinot Grigio – California
This one that took me by surprise in that I wasn’t suspecting much in the way of complexity but to my delight, it’s here. Notes of pears, lemon drop, aromas of white flowers and some “clean ocean air” greet the nose and the palate with a good sense of balance.
2011 The Spur – California
Layers of lightly spiced fruits are coming through on the nose, including cherry fruit roll-up and raspberry jam. This is closely followed by notes of cigar smoke, my grandmother’s leather sofa, some fruit cake and pencil lead. An easy drinker for the money that’s definitely more new-world, fruit-forward focused but it’s far from being just a one-trick pony.
2013 Steven Kent Winery Lola – California
Again, a lovely, balanced Sauvignon Blanc which exhibits the grapefruit and grassiness we adore about this grape and retains a very nice roundness across the entire spectrum of the palate. Its finish lingers on for days with gorgeous overtones of citrus, kiwi and lemon zest.
2012 Noble Vines 446 Chardonnay
Ever-so-slight hints of vanilla-laced golden delicious apples with Bartlett pears, pineapple and a lingering swell of butterscotch. Again, a wine that was a nice surprise – it finishes off very nicely with a decently-long finish of white peppercorns and peach skin.
2012 Cambria Chardonnay – Katherine’s Vineyard – California
A chardonnay which has a beautiful balance of fruit, acid and the tasty mid-palate mouth feel which is adored by many. An easy drinking summer wine because it’s not over-the-top as so many are which get aged on 100% new oak. The grilled pineapple, papaya, guava, lemon peel and blood orange notes on this wine are stunning. Solid fruit up front with a mid-palate transition and finish to yearn for.
Ste. Chapelle Riesling – Idaho
Honeydew, cantaloupe, river rock, flint and stone fruit abounds with this off-dry style Riesling. Yeah, the residual sugar Is at 3.85% but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s a “sweet wine”. It still has the ripping acidity to help balance the sweetness and make it an easy one to pound year’ round.
2012 La Battistina Gavi – Italy
White blossom, ginger, lemon drop, blue stone, white pepper, dandelion root, celery, chalk board are just some of the notes this wine throws into your nose harder than the dirt flying off the hoof of a track horse. Sublime subtleties greet your tongue in an elegant fashion which scream out for your attention. An easy drinking wine any time of the year but especially in the summer.
Albinea Canali Ottocentonero – Italy
This Lambrsuco Salamino / Grasparossa blend is a very lively red wine which offers-up notes of bright red fruit, somewhat-muted black fruit, pencil lead in the form of a gorgeous bouquet that makes love to your nasal passages and then continues past the nose to make love to your palate. A super-easy drinking red that goes superb with rich meals that contain red meat or highly-herbed white meat.
2013 Mohua Sauvignon Blanc – New Zealand
True to the flavor profile of New Zealand, this wine has grapefruit, wheatgrass, lime zest and kiwi. A splendidly clean-finishing wine which leaves lingering overtones of citrus, fresh-cut hay with hints of kiwi papaya.
2012 Raffaldini Vermentino Riserva – North Carolina
Bosch pears, golden apples, flower blossom, river bottom and hints of citrus with kiwi great your palate like a long-lost lover. The palate is purely sublime with an incredible mix of fruit and acidity which lead into a ridiculously long finish that begs you to pound this wine as if it’s your first time with a long-lost lover.
2011 Antolin Riesling – Washington State
A brilliantly dry Riesling that exhibits gorgeous flavors of golden delicious apples, Bosc pear, river rock, wet chalk and a hint of slate. Very Alsatian in its flavor profile with gorgeous amounts of stone fruit, green apples, pear and minerality. The mid palate and finish are simply sublime and make this a total no-brainer Riesling at its price.
2012 Canoe Ridge Chardonnay – Washington State
Orange blossom with hints of pineapple, green apple peel, slate, chalkboard and kiwi. An extremely refreshing chardonnay that doesn’t at all weigh heavy on the palate and yet does have a subtly smooth mount feel as well. A no-brainer for the money – it’d go great with Caesar salad or even pasta with shellfish mixed with a light cream sauce.
2012 Royal Viura White – Spain
Pear, golden apple, white blossom, slate, ginger, grapefruit and blood orange abound. A very sensual wine that provides a solid overall mouth feel across the entire spectrum of the palate. Good fruit and acidity combine into an insanely gorgeous finish.
2011 Cairdeas Nellie Mae – Washington State
Aromas of hazelnut, pineapple, golden delicious, river stone and crushed oyster shells abound. A nice roundness to the mid palate thanks to the sur-less process – it nearly comes across a bit “chardonnay like” here. Good acids, fruit and finish make it an easy summertime sipper.
2013 Waitsburg Cellars Chefray – Washington State
Easily a wine that proves Washington State can compete with Chenin Blanc on a global scale. It has so many beautiful fruit notes of golden apple, pear, peach and mango yet retains amazingly beautiful acidity. The finish is sublime and beckons the drinker to pair it with a home-made chicken Caesar salad with home-baked bread.
2013 Waitsburg Chevray– Washington State
Gorgeous nose full of stone fruits like pear and peach along with homemade creamed corn, white flower blossoms and a hint of golden apples. A beautiful wine that “thinks” it’s a well-crafted chardonnay in the sense of its splendid mid palate transition that is present thanks to the gentle use of neutral oak and sur lies. Crisp, round and dry with a finish that lingers on nicely.