After a fairly long winter and a rather short spring, summer is here. We only are in the middle of June and it is already 96 degrees Fahrenheit outside! In the quest for ways to cool ourselves down, some of us just sit at home or at work in the air conditioning, while the luckier ones get to chill by the pool. Or even better, travel to places where the weather is more moderate.
An easier, affordable, and quite enjoyable method to refresh oneself is to drink some delicious, well-chilled wines. There is an amazing selection out there of very fine rosé, whites, sparkling and even some light red wines that drink nicely on their own, but can superbly complement salads, fruits, BBQ meats and even ice cream, as well.
Often times, we hear that rosé wines are confusing, that they are neither white nor red. So please let’s address those concerns. Rosé wines are pink. Rosé is simply the word in French for “pink-colored.” While it is true that blending a bit of red wine in white wine would result in pink wine, that is not usually how rosé wines are made. There are two main methods to produce rosé wine, and in both cases they are made of grape varieties that have a dark skin: Skin maceration, and Saignée, which means “bleeding” in French.
With the skin maceration method, the grapes are pressed and then the “must,” the juice, macerates with skins from anywhere between a few minutes to a few hours, until the desired color, which comes from the skins, is obtained. With this method the skins not only release color but also phenols which add flavor and concentration as well as tannins. Rosé wines made with this method will usually feature a fuller body and a darker color than those made with the bleeding method.
The bleeding method is simply a byproduct of red winemaking. When the grapes are pressed with the skins, slightly pink-colored juice comes out of them. It is this grape juice that will be fermented into wine and will become a rosé. Most of the time, it will have a pale, bright pink color and a light body. Rosé wines can be fruity, a bit sweet, or really dry, lean and austere.
The Herzog Lineage Rosé 2017 is an interesting wine made with the saignée/bleeding method. Made with no less than 12 grape varieties originating in Herzog’s family Estate-owned Prince Vineyard in Clarksburg, CA, it features a slightly darker color than most saignée-method rosés. With aromas and flavors of ripe strawberries, papaya and pomegranate seeds, it is unique and should be served very cold, with a fruit salad or even a tuna tartar.
The Tabor Adama Barbera Rosé 2017 is another nice rosé, this one made with the skin maceration process. Barbera is a grape variety that originally comes from Italy. It is characterized by red berry and cherry aromas and has natural high acidity. Tabor in Israel have been making over the past few years a really nice Rosé which fully extracts and showcases the aforementioned attributes of the Barbera variety. It is light and almost fluffy in both body and texture yet flavorful, with a nice balance between the fruity notes and the acidity. Perfect to sip while relaxing by the pool on a hot day.
If you are looking instead for a wine that is more substantial, complex, and can even evolve in the bottle for a few years, look no further than the Pacifica Riesling 2017. Pacifica is a gorgeous, estate winery nestled in its vineyards overlooking the Columbia Gorge and Mt. Hood, on the border between the states of Washington and Oregon. Their newly released Riesling is a home run. Featuring the perfect, harmonious balance between lush fruit, earthy minerals, and mouth-watering acidity. It can accompany a wide array of foods, from fish & chips, spicy Thai red curry, through hot chicken wings, veal schnitzel or Apfel Strudel. Brilliant wine, and quite affordable, as well.
One specific type of wine that goes great with most foods, and is as nice to look at as it is to drink is dry sparkling wine. The best sparkling wines are arguably those hailing from the Champagne region in France. They are made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier or a blend of two or all three varieties.
The Drappier Brut Nature is made solely from Pinot Noir, and is a Zero Dosage Champagne, meaning no liquide de dosage (sweet wine from the original wine the champagne is made from) was added to adjust the sweetness when the champagne was disgorged during the secondary fermentation process. The result is a very dry, sharp yet elegant and classy champagne. Medium-bodied, with vibrant, tight mousse, focused medium bubbles, a harmonious texture with notes of apple, pear, roasted hazelnuts, crushed rocks, lime zest with high acidity and a touch of crème fraîche lingering on the long and classy finish. This is one remarkable champagne.
Bordeaux wines often are thought of as elitists, expensive, complicated wines made for people for whom money is no object. That is a very inaccurate generalization. Sure, some of the world’s best and rarest wines come from Bordeaux, and they carry sometimes a really hefty price tag. There are however many Bordeaux wines that provide great pleasure yet are affordable.
Château Trijet 2017 is one of those wines, retailing under $15. It is light to medium in body, offering the typical, restrained fruit and earthy profile generally associated with the wines from that mythical French wine-growing region. It even has the potential to develop some tertiary aromas with a few years of aging in the bottle but is nonetheless eminently enjoyable now. It is also made with organically grown grapes, meaning little to no pesticides were used in the vineyards. It would be perfect with a nice flat iron steak or grilled chicken breast.
Have a cool summer with refreshing and delightful wines! L’chaim!
Photography by Tzvi Cohen