It is finally Summer and the temperature is rising. What wines do you drink when the temperature is up? I know what I drink, and I thought I’d share with you my “go to” hot weather wines from California’s Sierra Foothills.
White Wines, Duh
Well, it’s kind of a “no brainer” to suggest drinking white wines in hot weather. But it is true that white wines and Summer weather go together well. In my opinion, Gold Country Chardonnay’s are nothing to write home about. The climate and soils just aren’t optimum for Chardonnay grapes. There are precious few good Sauvignon Blanc’s there as well. So when you’re in the Sierra Foothills, look instead for Semillon, Verdelho (Verdejo), and Malvasia Blanca.
10. Andis makes a stunning Semillon that simply tastes of Summer: pears, apples and a little citrus, it’s a smooth wine with a nice mouth feel and goes with shrimp the way peanut butter goes with jelly.
9. There are a couple of wineries that feature Verdelho, a grape originally from Spain. It makes a light, refreshing wine. Check out the Verdeho from 9 Gables especially. It’s a wine with some acid and some minerality that mark it as distinct in this region.
8. A nice, refreshing Summer white is Sera Fina’s Malvasia Blanca. It is slightly sweet with a crisp finish. It is so good, it’s dangerous. I could drink this stuff non stop in hot weather. That would lead to tipsiness and for a big guy, that ain’t pretty. So I have to restrain my natural impulses and remember to share when we open a bottle.
If you have to drink Red make it Counoise
7. This is a tough one if you can’t find any. Holly’s Hill made a Counoise in 2009 which they released last year. This is for me THE Summer Red wine. It is light, bursting with strawberry flavors with great citrus flavors lingering on the palate. I only have one bottle left and I’m planning to serve it for my partner’s birthday later this Summer. Shhh! Don’t tell.
Yes, it’s a bit of cliche to denigrate Roses. There was a time, 20 or 30 years ago, when Roses sold in this country were just plain bad. This is not the case today. There are some terrific Roses being made and sold in the Sierra Foothills.
6. Helwig makes a very nice Rose, with a deeper color than the Andis wine I discuss next. The Helwig Rose is crisp and tart, not the least bit sweet and is a wonderful food friendly wine.
5. My favorite is made by Andis. I sang the praises of this wine before. I proposed it as an excellent pairing for the Thanksgiving Turkey. And, it’s wonderful in the Summer as well. A relatively dry wine, with a light acid touch, it pairs really well with food.
There is nothing like a nice chilled sparkling wine when the weather is hot. They are great for drinking on their own and often pair pretty nicely with Summer foods. The wineries in Amador and El Dorado County that make wonderful Sparkling wines include Crystal Basin Cellars, Gold Hill, Deaver, and Vino Noceto.
4. Vino Noceto makes what they call Frivolo. It is a low alcohol Moscato, sweet and a lightly bubbly beverage. This is ideal for those who don’t like sparkling wines, because the bubbles are very small and subtle. It pairs nicely with spicy foods.
3. Deaver has a full range of sparkling wines, including what are to me somewhat dubious flavored sparkling wines. But, I will say, that the almond flavored sparkling wine is surprisingly tasty, however dubious it may be. It is a guilty pleasure.
2. Crystal Basin Cellars makes a yummy sparkling wine which is more fruit forward than any a conventional sparkling wine, but without being sweet. It tastes of pears and goes down a treat. If you’re looking for a sparkling wine to sip on the patio when it gets hot, this a real contender.
1. Gold Hill has been making sparkling wines since the late 70′s, predating the US agreement with France over the name “Champagne”. So their sparkling wine has been “grandfathered” in and is still sold as Champagne. Take that, France! And, here’s the deal, it is a really good sparkler. It holds up well in comparison to French Champagne. A drier wine, made from a blend of Chardonnay and Colombard grapes. This wine can very easily be paired with food.