Summer Wines of the Heart 7.9.2023
It took some time, but summer is finally upon us. In all honesty, I think summer might be my favorite wine season. Not because I particularly enjoy the pool, beach, or stiflingly hot weather (I am looking at you, California), but because in this season, even the most staunchly snobby of us wine nerds let our hair down and enjoy an occasional simple acid-driven white or rose, and sometimes even out of a can (god forbid!). A river float has no room for your f*ing Zalto, Topher!
But I digress.
I selected this summer’s “Wines of the Heart” with this exact vibe. They are wines of the boat, float, and pool, showcasing great “drinkability (thanks Coors, for the term) while still killing it in terms of complexity.
Red Car Rosé of Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Average Price: $29 [WineSearcher]
We’re off to the races with Red Car, my long-term favorite winery from the Sonoma Coast. My Introduction to Red Car showed me what acid was and made me chase it. The Rosé is 90% of Red Car sales, making it available for more people across more states, and that is a damn good thing. I can’t imagine a better wine to drink poolside; it is linear, tart, sharply acidic, slightly herbal, and phenomenally quaffable. Despite the common easy-drinking nature, don’t consider this wine simple. Red Car ain’t your “Lancers” Rosé. The palate still has a ton of breadth, texture, and minerality to force a wine critic to analyze. But you don’t have to because you will be too busy chugging a magnum while jet-skiing. F*ck yeah!
“Vin Gris” style, meaning whole-bunch pressing immediately as the grapes arrive in the winery. This wine is aged in neutral oak and stainless steel for added texture and retained acidity without any oak flavors.
La Rogerie Villages Riesling, Alsace
Price: $47 [WineSearcher]
Speaking of acid-driven, complex wines you want to drink with omakase but also on the French Riviera, La Rogerie has got you covered. This wine is an acid beast, an absolute jolt for your tastebuds. But, once the taste buds are renewed, get ready to be greeted with layers of tropical fruits, citrus fruits, and a minerality akin to running through a fresh-water stream in the forest and smelling all the rocks rounded by the current.
The wine is vinified and aged for a year in neutral “Champagne” French oak from the winery’s Champagne project, which is also under the La Rogerie label and is an absolute must to discover.
Croix et Courbet Savaginin Ouille, Jura
Average Price: $43 [WineSearcher]
Let’s not delay but jump into a more, let’s say, robust wine. Are you grilling some fish lake-side and need a white that can handle some flavor but maintain its integrity with the dish? Look no further than this perfectly balanced Savagnin ( I sound like a TV salesperson. Whatever, these wines are tasty). This gorgeous Savagnin, a partnership of David Croix of Burgundy (of Domaine des Croix) and Damien Courbet of the Jura, is incredibly appealing texturally while having some excellent acid to back up all of its complex flavors (there might be a theme here. But it’s summer, and acid is welcome). The notes of pineapple, cream, honeysuckle, lemon peel, pine, sage, orange creamsicle, pastry, and a hint of flinty minerality make this wine a joy to drink and even more of a pleasure to pair with lighter fair and even some more robust dishes.
This blend is precisely chosen from the winery’s best vineyards, En Beaumont and En Chemenot (both of which are also bottled separately), with the addition of a small parcel in Château-Chalon. It progresses through the different elemental vessels, starting with fermentation in concrete egg, moving into old 228 barrels, and finishing its elevage in stainless steel.
Jean Stodden “J” Spatburgunder, Ahr
Average Price: $22 [WineSearcher]
Ok, so despite the theme being quaffable summer wines with complexity, I felt obligated to include a red.
Or did I?
No, I wanted a German Spatburgunder because these wines are seriously on the upward trajectory. There is incredible potential in the category and already realized phenomenal examples. Jean Stodden estate- run by 5th generation Alexander Stodden- is certainly at the forefront of this revolution, already demonstrating quality while still being “held under wraps.” Well, it’s time to introduce you to tSpatburgunder, and -in particular- this wine. What is super interesting about Ahr is that it is one of the northernmost regions of German viticulture (meaning it is a bit colder there) but specializes in Pinot Noir. Ahr’s dark volcanic slate soils retain heat and thus allow red grapes to ripen. Still, this marginal climate shows in the profile of the Jean Stodden Spatburgunder, which balances red fruit, umami character, grainy tannins, and just the freshest acid on a red I have had in a red in a while.
The wine was made in 1,000-liter “fuders” for everything, from fermentation to aging. With such a simple elevage, one may wonder where the tensity and texture come from. Undoubtedly, the answer is- as it is most times- in viticulture.
And so we conclude…
Yet another scintillating four-wine selection. These wines are fun, unique, delicious, and reasonably priced. What else can one want from their summer wine?
Check out the “Wines of the Heart” Series.
Cheers, and enjoy!