The Ultimate Guide to Summer Wines
Throughout the year, I taste hundreds of wines at dinners, seminars, and wine showcases. Here’s an international list—rosés, whites and reds—which represent some of the most exciting wines I’ve tasted at different price ranges.
Chandon Blanc de Noirs Rosé ($24)
Made in limited-edition to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the storied Napa winery, Chandon Blanc de Noirs Rosé has fresh flavors of red current, cherry and strawberry and a creamy and lively texture. It’s the first release of thirty-five-year old Pauline Lhote as Chandon’s chief winemaker.
Chapel Down Classic NV Rosé Brut ($50)
From England’s leading sparkling winemaker, Chapel Down Classic NV Rosé Brut, which is aged 18 months on its lees, has delicious, vibrant flavors of strawberries, raspberries and redcurrants and a delicate mousse. At the launch in NY, the winemaker Josh Donaghay-Spire said, “It’s sorbet-y like a summer pudding.”
Xavier Flouret Côtes de Provence “Nationale 7” ($20)
Named after the famous historical road from Paris to the French Riviera, Xavier Flouret Côtes de Provence “Nationale 7” is a lovely pale pink hued rosé from Chateau des Demoiselles, an estate with 185 acres of sustainably farmed vineyards. Made from old vine grapes by oenologist Christophe Bernard, the wine is floral with hints of spice and minerality.
Smoke Tree Rosé ($23)
A unique blend of Grenache, old-vine Zinfandel and Carignan, Smoke Tree Rosé, from Sonoma, has delicious white cherry, peach and nectarine flavors with a dry finish. The fruit is sourced from select vineyard all over California from Mendocino to Paso Robles.
Villa Gemma ($15)
From the Abruzzo Cerasuolo DOC region, Villa Gemma from producer Masciarelli, made from the red grape Montepulciano, has a cherry red color and an intense bouquet of lilac, black cherry and pomegranate. This is a rosé that can stand up to prosciutto and hard cheeses.
Les Dauphins Côtes Rhône Rosé Réserve ($15)
Sporting a luminescent light pink hue, Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Rosé Réserve from the Southern Rhône made from a blend of mainly Grenache with Cinsault and Syrah, is a delicious wine with bright concentrated, fruity flavors, freshness and lots of finesse.
Bird in Hand Sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé ($25)
Bird in Hand Sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé is a new exciting sparkling wine from Adelaide Hills in Australia. Sporting a blush pink hue, it’s refreshing and lively with strawberry and cherry flavors. The perfect wine for aperitif hour.
La Crema Saralee’s Vineyard Rosé ($30)
Made from 100% Pinot Noir, La Crema Saralee’s Vineyard Rosé has the prettiest light pink salmon hue. With vibrant crisp flavors of strawberry, wild raspberry, tangerine and watermelon, it has a pink grapefruit note and a touch of spice on the finish. This rosé is a food wine and a great match with summer salads or shellfish.
Robert Mondavi Winery Fumé Blanc Reserve 2015 ($52)
With grapes from the renown To Kalon Vineyard in Napa, Robert Mondavi Winery Fumé Blanc Reserve 2015 has bright exotic flavors of Mandarin orange, white blossoms and ginger and a long finish. A small percentage of Sémillon is added to the Sauvignon Blanc which gives the wine richness and complexity making it perfect to pair with dinner.
“Podium” Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOCG Classico Superiore ($25)
A wow-wine which won 14 Tre Biccheri Awards in Italy’s most important wine competition, “Podium” Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOCG Classico Superiore made from 100% Verdicchio has seductive citrus and honeyed aromas and is refined and elegant. From the Marche region of Italy, Podium is made by Garofoli, the oldest family-owned wine estate in the region.
Animo Heritage Sauvignon Blanc ($65)
From the oldest surviving Sauvignon Blanc clones in North America, Animo Heritage Sauvignon Blanc from Michael Mondavi has quite a story. Its lineage can be traced back to Chateau d’Yquem cuttings arriving in Oakville in the1880’s. The Mondavi family selected the same rootstock and used trellising of the 19th century. Aged in a portion new French oak for 7 months, Amino has aromas of nectarine, peach and lemongrass and a rich round texture.
Kim Crawford Signature Reserve 2017 ($25)
A new wine launched this year in the winery’s portfolio, Kim Crawford Signature Reserve 2017, is an exuberant Sauvignon Blanc with bright, enticing tropical flavors. With grapes selected from small lots from the winery’s top Springfields and Steam Wharf vineyards, Signature Reserve is rich and round yet clean and crisp.
Château Clarke Le Merle Blanc 2016 ($26)
From a wine estate of Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Château Clarke Le Merle Blanc 2016 is a stunning white Bordeaux with a bouquet of white peach, citrus and flowers, a sensuous mouthfeel, balance and minerality on the finish.
Inglenook Blancaneaux 2015 ($49)
Made from a Rhone blend of Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier, Inglenook Blancaneaux 2015 has intense tropical aromas and notes of lychee, grapefruit and white flowers. The wine was first launched in 1999 as the white response to Inglenook’s top red, Rubicon.
Trefethen Chardonnay 2016 ($38)
From the Oak Knoll district of Napa, Trefethen Chardonnay 2016 has beautiful flavors of honeysuckle, green apple, citrus and brioche. In the year 1976 this wine won “best Chardonnay in the world” in a Gault Millau competition in France. The historic Trefethen Family Vineyards turned 50 this year and can proudly say that their vineyards have been farmed sustainably since the beginning.
Arnaldo Caprai Grecante Grechetto 2017 ($20)
Arnaldo Caprai Grecante Grechetto 2017 is a real discovery wine from the leading producer in Montefalco, Umbria. Made from the grape variety Grechetto, the golden colored wine has perfumed aromas of exotic fruit and hawthorn flowers and is medium bodied and fresh. Perfect for white meat or fish.
Mouton Cadet Bordeaux Blanc ($11)
Mouton Cadet, a Bordeaux brand that has been popular in the US since the 1950’s, just got a refresh this year. Baron Philippe Sereys de Rothschild came to New York to relaunch the brand, which now takes a more “terroir-driven approach” to grape selection for its reds, whites and rosés. In layman’s terms this means they have teams of viticulturists overseeing the grape growers throughout Bordeaux to assure quality. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle, Mouton Cadet Bordeaux Blanc is one of the best values you’ll find. The perfect glass to serve when throwing a large summer party.
Benziger Family Winery Reserve Pinot Noir 2016 ($45)
With biodynamically farmed grapes from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma, Benziger Family Winery Reserve Pinot Noir 2016 is juicy and loveable. With its soft tannins, its exhibits black cherry, blueberry and raspberry notes with a hint of tobacco.
Gary Farrell Pinot Noir Russian River Selection Pinot Noir 2015 ($45)
Gary Farrell Pinot Noir Russian River Selection Pinot Noir 2015 expresses all the nuance of variety from the best vineyard sites of the cool-climate Russian River Valley. With cherry, tangerine and raspberry aromas with notes of rosemary and cedar, the flavors meld into a lush finish with lively acidity.
Michael David Ancient Vine Cinsault ($26))
Michael David Ancient Vine Cinsault from the Lodi appellation’s oldest vineyard and possibly some of the world’s oldest Cinsault clones, has vivid red berry fruit and cranberry flavors with touch of oak and leather. Translucent red in hue, it’s medium bodied and a great pair for fish or lighter meats.