10 Best Wines To Have This Summer
Crisp white wines are a great alternative to full-bodied reds during the perennially balmy months of summer. But it would be a shame to limit your choices to a sauvignon blanc. It is in fact the perfect time to savour more trendy alternatives to red wine with your mains or meat course, and perhaps something more adventurous and indulgent to bring to a picnic on the beach. It’s also a season when wine lovers often go prospecting for still fresher vinous ground: orange wines or lightly fizzy reds the colour of watermelon juice.
1. Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris de Cigare 2016
Once you’ve exhausted your supply of Whispering Angel and Miraval, try this pallid Californian rosé that out-Provences Provence. It’s a Francophile blend of grenache, mourvedre, grenache blanc and roussanne that undulates down the throat with a breath of fennel, thyme and blood orange, and a mouth-bathing waxiness. Plus, the screw cap makes it perfect for the beach or boating.
2. François Cotat Sancerre Chavignol Rosé 2017
For the pinot lover who simply can’t survive a season without their favourite wine, this decidedly pale pink wine has the structure and stuffing to survive until next summer (or the next). Wilted rose petals and cream on wild strawberries are pulled together by firm, puckering acidity and a refreshing hint of bitterness. Best with summery salads or fresh cheeses.
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3. Valentini Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo 2016
Not for the faint of heart (nor wallet), this Montepulciano-based rosé is one of Italy’s most ambitious. Red Montepulciano d’Abruzzo may be familiar as the quaffable, purple-fruited mainstay of many an Italian by-the-glass list, but this cerasuolo (referring to its cherry colour) is like the skeletal essence of those easygoing wines: a stony, bitter herb and sour cherry diamond compressed out of juicy coal.
4. R Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rosado 2000
One of the only still rosés you’ll find on the rare and collectible shelf, this tempranillo-, garnacha- and viura-based Rioja Rosado is aged four-and-a-half years in oak and a decade in bottle. It emerges a terracotta-toned elixir that is to red Rioja like twilight is to a day on the beach: a ghostly suggestion of roses among mossy undergrowth. Perfect unorthodox standout for a BYO dinner.
5. Vouette & Sorbée Cuvée Saignée de Sorbée NV
Though classic rosé champagnes like Ruinart, Taittinger and even Krug are blended from red and white wine, Saignée styles made by bleeding juice off fermenting red wine are beloved by the wine-adventurous. This 100 per cent pinot noir even uses carbonic maceration (typical of still Beaujolais) to quickly extract colour and aroma. The result is juicy, decadent summer berry fruit laced with bitter almonds, carried on a cushion of fine bubbles.
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6. Gravner Ribolla Gialla Anfora 2007
An unabashed worshipper of Georgian amber wine, northeastern Italy’s Josko Gravner was an early visitor to the country after the Soviet Union’s collapse, bringing its techniques and tools home. His ribolla gialla, a native grape of Friuli, ferments for a year in underground amphorae, allowing any coarseness or angularity to resolve. It is spicy, golden-fruited and lush with bristling, mouth‑binding tannins—an on-trend alternative to red wine with your main course.
7. Pheasant’s Tears Rkatsiteli 2016
Founded over a decade ago by an American painter and an established Georgian winemaking family, Pheasant’s Tears brought esoteric ambers to a broader audience. Native rkatsiteli layers apricot over walnut and ground spice perfume and texture from six months buried underground in a sealed clay qvevri (amphora) with its skins, seeds and stems. As alien and haunting as Georgian polyphonic singing; brilliant late in the meal or after dinner.
8. Sato Pinot Gris L’Atypique 2016
Made by Yoshiaki and Kyoko Sato in New Zealand’s Central Otago, a region better known for buxom pinot noir, this 22-day skin‑fermented pinot gris with finely honed tannins from 15 months in oak is polished enough to woo a roomful of sexagenarian collectors. Tawny amber in colour, exuding white mushroom, dried peach and dried leaf, this clean style is happy to go it alone.
9. Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco del Fondatore 2017
Unusually, this pale Lambrusco made from 100 per cent sorbara grapes is bottle-fermented and then aged for six months on yeast lees (versus at least 15 in Champagne.) Lyrical and lucent with crunchy red berries and wafting violets, it’s as vivacious as we all aspire to feel in crisp tennis whites, and far less draining than an actual game of doubles.
10. Primo Estate Joseph Sparkling Red NV
Frequently touted as Australia’s greatest sparkling red despite its non-vintage, non-varietal, non‑regional status, this cultish blend of long‑aged and younger shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and merlot is earthy, savoury and fruit-oak luscious in equal measures, gloriously stitched into a seamless whole. Break it out with heavy meats to ensure nobody falls asleep before sunset.
For more of Master of Wine Sarah Heller’s recommendations, follow @sarahhellerm on Instagram.
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