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The underrated choice
Summer. Yeah, it's here again. Buy early, by the way, before the wines languish on the shelves of many unprepared retailers throughout the long, hot summer. Wines can be badly damaged by high heat.
With the advent of air conditioning, the issue of what wines
go best in the summer heat seems less important than ever before.
Still, many summer events occur outside, not inside. (Can we say
"Picnic"?) And, even when it is nice and cool inside,
there is something viscerally appealing about a nice cold glass
after dragging your body home through the humid soup of a summer
day. So, let's talk about summer wine.
The summer wine choice usually comes down to white wines and
rosés, wines that can be drunk cold. There are, by the way,
some lighter reds that fare well in the summer, like
The rosés’ bad
reputation stems partly from the cloyingly sweet, cheap wines
that one sometimes finds in
Rosés can be just about perfect choices for summer fare, and the great ones in fact are dry not sweet. They meet all your summer needs, with the exception that, no matter how much you drink, you still have to apply suntan lotion. You know the old wedding slogan, “something old, something new…?” With rosés, it is something cold, something bold, i.e., a summer wine that can be drunk chilled, but still has enough oomph to stand up to things that might ordinarily cause us to crack a red wine. They have flavor, and are not TOO subtle, which is great in the summer, since if they are drunk outside or with spicy foods nothing subtle will be noticed. A good one may even keep a confirmed red wine drinker from having withdrawal symptoms.
Just do this: make sure they're fresh. Ideally, a rosé
should be at most two or three years old, assuming perfect
storage. That is, buy 2001s and 2002s in 2003. Buy as young
as you can find. Only the very best age, and even then, not for
At the high end, some rosés seem to be big enough so that they are almost red wines that aren't quite red yet can be drunk chilled. In my view, the best rosés in the world come from Bandol, in the South of France, and the best producer there is Domaine Tempier. Some other fine producers are Domaine Ott and Pibarnon. Ott tends to a lighter styled pink, but still bone dry.
These wines are not your run of the mill rosés. Salmon
colored, with body and weight, the wines have incredible
versatility. Sure, drink them with chicken salad. But they also
manage to hold up to grilled meats, too, although just barely. Spicy
and dry, with tight, focused flavors from traditional Bandol
grapes like Mourvedre, these wines aren't exactly what you think
about when someone dismisses "fruity, sweet little rosés."
The only catch is that the best of them are a bit pricey, running
around $20, and hard to find.
For less pricey alternatives, read on.
The other, and perhaps even more traditional, fine rosé
Are these all truly great wines? No, although some are and
some are pretty close. You'll be surprised at just
how good some of them are. But true greatness is a not a summer
event. There's no point drinking a
Remember, too, context is everything. These wines will taste better in the summer than at any other time. Drink the feel good wines, with the feel good food, on your feel good day off. You'll feel good!
So, there you have it. Broaden your horizons. Drink something different. Have a great summer!
If you’re in
2002 Tavel (Chateau de
2002 Vin Gris (Cline) $9.99 For a top American selection, Liquor Control Board tasters decided that the Cline was better than the Bonny Doon this year and only the Cline was ordered as between the two. As of the time this article was submitted, the wines were not available to taste.
If you must go for a white
zinfandel, one of the better ones, year-in, year-out, is the Beringer.
at Canal’s—Hainesport, 1500 Route 38
2001 Tavel (Chateau d’Acqueria) $12.99 This is traditionally one of the leaders in Tavel.
2001 Vin Gris (Bonny
2001 Bandol (Domaine Tempier) $21.99 Perhaps the single most famous pink in the world, from what I consider to be the best region in the world (Bandol).
2001 Cotes du Rhone (Guigal) $12.99 Guigal is a very reliable producer that makes dry rosés of several types, this and a Tavel as well.
at Corkscrewed, Village Walk Shopping Center #15, 1990 Marlton
Pike (Route 70), Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
2001/2002 Prieure de
St Hyppolyte Coteaux de
2002 Mas de
Gourgonnier Les Baux de Provence $12
A familiar entrant from
Copyright Mark Squires, © 2003 all rights reserved.