Summer Wine

by Mary Bailey

Wines with flavour and style of course, and wines that don’t drag on the palate. We want the equivalent of a floaty silk scarf, not a heavy wool muffler. We have so many good occasions for bubbles in the summer, but Champagne can seem too serious; better to lighten the mood with affordable cava and prosecco. Reds need to be barbecue-friendly and ready at a moment’s notice for impromptu gatherings; this is not the season for the wines requiring day-long decanting.

White wines? Who needs ponderous oak or high alcohol to get in the way of pure flavour, and a good level of breezy acidity is desired to keep things refreshing.

Most of all, summer wines need to be at carefree prices we don’t have to think twice about. Most of the wines suggested hardly break a $20.

Dibon Brut Cava
Dibon Brut Cava

Dibon Brut Cava (Penedes, Spain) $14

Made from the classic Spanish cava trio, Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada, which gives the wine lovely apple and pear flavours with a bit of brioche, grapefruit zest and stony minerality. Cava can suffer from a lack of acidity resulting in a flat taste. Not Dibon, its refreshingly zingy acidity leaves you wanting more. Enjoy by the glass at Bar Bricco.

Vaporetto Prosecco
Vaporetto Prosecco

Vaporetto Prosecco (Veneto, Italy) $17 Elegantly off-dry, with lowish alcohol of 11 per cent. The sweetness suits the wine, as do the attractive fruity and floral aromas and flavours. Drink as an aperitif or with light foods such as the shrimp, pork and glass noodle salad on page 12.

Ruggeri Gold Label Giall d’Oro Prosecco
Ruggeri Gold Label
Giall d’Oro Prosecco

Ruggeri Gold Label Giall d’Oro Prosecco (Valdobbiadene, Italy) $27

The apple blossom and acacia floral aromas and pleasing texture with some sweetness creates a delicate Prosecco ideal for keeping at the ready in the fridge door. Look also for the Ruggeri Giustino B, a vintage Prosecco from selected vineyards within Valdobbiadene, refreshing and delicious.

Hester Creek Trebbiano
Hester Creek

Hester Creek Trebbiano (Okanagan Valley, Canada) $25We tried this at the Okanagan winery several years ago and became fans; Italy’s weed of a grape shown some respect, the vines are some of the oldest in the valley. The wine rewards the palate with a lush mouth feel and beautifully balanced tropical fruit aromas and flavours. Drink with cheese puffs or lobster mac and cheese.

El Petit Bonhomme Blanco
El Petit Bonhomme

El Petit Bonhomme Blanco (Rueda, Spain) $16

This slightly nutty, citrusy (think warm nectarines in the sun), grassy Verdejo possesses excellent body and an attractive bitter note that makes you want to reach for anything grilled —drink this with Rosso Pizzeria’s pizza bianca with rapini. Even more fun, the price makes it lug-worthy, as in lugging cases of el Petit to the lake.

Terra Dalter Viognier
Terra D’Alter Viognier

Terra D’Alter Viognier (Alentejo, Portugal) $17

Viognier is a grape that needs careful love and attention. It can be boring and lacklustre if the temperature gets too hot or if it’s picked too ripe. Terra d’Alter’s high altitude vineyards of degraded granitic soils are similar to France’s Condrieu region, the home of the grape, perhaps that is why this wine is such a delicious surprise. Taut acidity provides the perfect structure for crisp melon and apricot fruit flavours, entirely at home with grilled shrimp or pork sate with mango salsa.

Bender Kulina Gewurztraminer
Bender Kulina

Bender Kulina Gewurztraminer (Pfalz, Germany) $20

Dry, almost smoky, with crisp, beautifully balanced acidity, and tropical notes (lime and guava) without the heavy baking spice and unctuous lychee that can make some gewurz taste as though a fleet of dreadnoughts are bearing down on your palate. Drink with Thai food, spicy chicken, Asian pork belly.

Cedarcreek 2013 Riesling
CedarCreek 2013

CedarCreek 2013 Riesling (Okanagan Valley, Canada) $20 Tasting this Riesling at the VQA show this spring was a treat, the long finish a sign that the fruit has had time to really develop gorgeous flavours, minerals etc., and textures which reverberated for several minutes; didn’t want it to end. It’s a slightly dryer-style Riesling to have with cheeses, roast chicken or trout.

CedarCreek 2013 Block 3 Platinum Riesling
CedarCreek 2013
Block 3 Platinum

CedarCreek 2013 Block 3 Platinum Riesling (Okanagan Valley, Canada) $25The lovely acidity, what the Brits call nervosity (the wine practically quivers on your tongue) low alcohol and some residual sugar (14.5 g/l), coupled with gorgeous fruit, lemon/lime, linden flower and minerality create an unforgettable package, ideal for lovers of classically elegant Mosel wines. Leave a few bottles of the Block 3 in the cellar in order to enjoy the glories of aged Riesling.

Tinhorn Pinot Gris
Tinhorn Pinot Gris

Tinhorn Pinot Gris (Okanagan Valley, Canada) $20Lees stirring, and allowing 30 per cent of the wine go through malolactic creates some very nice textures and body in this Gris without it tipping into full-on creaminess. Elegant and focused, fresh, with some honeyed spice, melon, grapefruit and floral notes. Drink with pork tenderloin or cedar-planked salmon.

Bender Rosé
Bender Rosé

Bender Rosé (Pfalz, Germany) $15Juicy and fresh, think mouthfuls of just-picked raspberries. The wine has enough tension to keep it refreshing, and without the sweet candy flavour that some rosé are prone to, will make believers out of the drink-no-pink crew. Made from an unusual blend, for rosé at least, of Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Equally enjoyable before dinner or with a goat cheese salad.

Tinhorn 2Bench red
Tinhorn 2Bench red

Tinhorn 2Bench Red (Okanagan Valley, Canada) $26Crafted from Tinhorn’s superb Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, with lots of berry and plum flavours and a pleasing undercurrent of tobacco, cedar, herbs, and violets. Medium-bodied with dense character and just right acidity and the 14.5 per cent alcohol never comes across as hot. The wine is balanced, juicy and delicious, with good structure provided by the ripe tannins, all the better to work with red meat on the grill this summer.

El Petit Bonhomme Tinto
El Petit Bonhomme

El Petit Bonhomme Tinto (Jumilla, Spain) $16Juicy ripe fruit, just enough tannin to keep it interesting, nice fresh acidity, and a certain swagger just what we want from Spain these days. This blend of Monastrell, Garnacha and Syrah is the opposite of serious, yet still a well-made wine reflecting excellent fruit handling and winemaking. On hot days, stick in the fridge for 10 minutes to bring out the pretty berry and herb flavours. Ideal with burgers, pizza, flatbreads, ribs, all the summery foods of summer.

All prices are approximate. Vintages may vary. Find these wines at Bin 104, Crestwood Wine Shop, Fine Wines by Liquor Select, Unwined, and other fine wine shops. Not all wines in all stores.