Sunday, August 4, 2013

Summer Wine ... and the Sipping is Easy

Am enjoying some wonderful wines this summer that remind me of how simple and enjoyable wine drinking can be when you strip away all the trappings of so-called "serious" wines (translated: pricey Cabernet Sauvignon and other robust, multi-layered reds).

Among them:

2012 Dry Creek Vineyards Dry Chenin Blanc: from the not-exactly-celebrated appellation of Clarksburg in northern California, this is a favorite wine of mine and of many oyster lovers -- it frequently wins the Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition. With its crisp acidity, low alcohol of 12.5% and $12 price tag -- what's not to love?

2012 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Rosé: A subtle stunner from the LaRochelle Winery in the Livermore Valley near San Francisco. The Pinot Noir grapes for this pale salmon-colored rosé wine come from the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey, a wonderful environment for Pinot Noir. Bone-dry with a nice high acidity and a moderate 13.4 % alcohol. Winemaker Tom Stutz  has been making this style since the 2007 vintage and models it after a Coteaux Champenoise, a still wine that comes from the Champagne AOC. Production in Champagne of this style of rosé is very small and so it is with the LaRochelle's rosé. It is available through the winery online or at its tasting room in Livermore Valley.  $24.

2012 Maison Joseph Drouhin Laforet Chardonnay. As I am not usually a chardonnay fan, this wine was a pleasant surprise. A delightfully, non-weighty wine made from Chardonnay grapes coming from all over Burgundy, it is a wonderful introduction to the whites of this hallowed region (which can get very weighty) with a crisp acidity, fruitiness and nice body.  $18.

2012 Marchesi Antinori Castello della Sala Bramito del Cervo Chardonnay from Umbria, Italy. Another nice surprise: 100% Chardonnay from Umbria, the neighboring region to Tuscany, this well-balanced wine is fermented for a short time in oak barrels, but the result is ethereal and the wine is a perfect partner for light foods, from salads to raw seafood. $18.

Another delectable wine from Antinori is the 2010 Peppoli Chianti Classico.  A modern take on traditional Chianti Classico, this wine is young, fruity and approachable, with a silky smooth feel in the mouth. It is 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot and Syrah. $28.