“Summertime and the livin’s easy.” On today’s exploration of wines, as we venture into the heat of July, I wanted to present to you the four outstanding wines to be enjoyed poolside, on a lawn, or after a long hike. Fresh, light, refreshing, best enjoyed ice cold. That’s the theme.
Each wine has a story about the winery, vigneron, or region. I also included a brief “Vigneron Style,” which provides each wine’s notable viticultural/winemaking aspects.
With that said, here are some summer wine recommendations for you to enjoy.
Ciro Picariello Fiano di Avelino
Average Price: $27 [Wine-Searcher]
Easily one of the best Italian white wines out there.
The province of Campagnia sits in the Northern part of Southern Italy. The region has become very well known for its white wines, despite the hot Mediterranean climate, with the ancient Greek grape Fiano leading the charge. Avelino is an area where the quality, high on average, can nonetheless be variable. But if I had to pick one wine to display the upper echelon of Fiano winemaking and even rival Chablis’s great cool-climate wines, it would be Ciro Picariello. Grown in the Province of Summonte (roughly translated to “under the mountain”) at 650 meters above sea level, the wine has a long growing season, which allows for excellent flavor development and balance at ripeness (see terroir article on the explanation).
This wine is crisp and mineral-laden, with great midpalate and fantastic fruit development. Maybe not the most ‘chillable’ wine, as it shows better when it comes closer to room temperature (in my honest view). Incredible with fresh oysters, in a way that a good Chablis or Albariño would be.
The oldest vines were planted in 1920: Indigenous, local yeast fermentations in stainless steel tanks with optimal temperature control. Minimal SO2 additions, if any. Concrete fermentation with indigenous yeasts. Stainless Steel and neutral French Oak aging.
Schloss Gobelsberg Schlosskellerei ‘Cistertien’ Rosé
Average Price: $18 [Wine-Searcher]
I’ll be honest. Not a big Rosé guy. Just not my thing. Lighter-style Rosés are just underwhelming and uninteresting. I mean, look at the branding on some of those Provençal Rosés. “Hampton Water?” You might as well drink water and save yourself the hangover. On the other hand, there is Tavel, Bandol, and some richly extracted California examples. Fruit-forward, not refreshing, might as well be red wine.
But sometimes, a pale salmon wine shows up that walks the tightrope between bright acidity, crisp minerality, great texture, fresh fruit flavors, hints of herbal notes, and is everything you could ever want on a hot summer day. That wine is Schloss Gobelsberg Schlosskellerei Rose Cistertien. A mouthful, I know. But don’t let the name distract you.
The wine is made from classic Austrian varieties Zweigelt, St. Laurent, and a more internationally known Pinot Noir. These varieties are grown on the cooler sites overlooking the Danube River and picked at exceptionally refreshing acidity levels.
30-year-old vines. Cool-climate loess soils. Soft direct pressing to extract minimal color (but with a variety like Zweigelt, you still get a bit of depth, unlike a Cinsault rosé).
Ulacia Getariako Txakolina
Average Price: $19 [Wine-Searcher]
I don’t think I have ever had a wine that was such a joy to drink. This wine is a celebration of life, of good times to be had by all. It is pleasant, refreshing, slightly bubbly, fruity, and balanced between fresh acidity and a slight sweetness. This wine’s main grape is Honddarribi Zuri, which gives the base of high acidity and those delicious green apple and lemon. But another grape, a red grape called Hondarribi Beltza, adds just a hint of freshly picked strawberries.
I recommend drinking this wine from a Porron, but a white wine glass will suffice.
No oak aging done, no lees age, nothing to inhibit the freshness. Hand-picked grapes, stainless steel fermented, aged for a few months, and then off to the races.
Pax Trousseau Gris ‘Fanucchi-Wood Road’
Average Price: $33 [Wine-Searcher]
This list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include a wine with which I have a history (check out my Chateau Montelena shoutout in the previous “Wines of the Heart”).
Back in 2017, I used to work at a tasting room in Bodega Bay. On the way back to Santa Rosa, where I lived, I would frequent “The Barlow,”; a commercial area turned local gathering spot with coffee shops, restaurants, wineries, distilleries, tasting rooms, and a grocery store. I’d visit a tasting room, get a glass and then enjoy the ambiance.
I was introduced to Pax wines, then called Wind Gap.
(technically a different brand, but by the same owner/winemaker. Too long of a story). Pax offered something I felt was lacking in the highly uptight world of Sonoma County tasting rooms; a diversity of obscure, fun, unique, well-made, ‘quaffable’ wines. (It would be nice if they were also affordable, but nothing is reasonable in the wine country). Pax was- and still is- an excellent respite for a wine-weary palate-fatigued hospitality worker like me for ‘glou glou’ wines (they also produce Syrah wines to rival the Northern Rhone, but that’s a different story).
My favorite of these refreshing wines is the Trousseau Gris, an even-more-obscure color mutation of an already-obscure Alpine variety Trousseau (kind of like what Pinot Gris is to Pinot Noir). The wine is fresh, slightly pink-gray, and acidic, with light citrus and stone fruit notes. While the flavors are not the most expressive, the texture is really the focus here. The crunchy minerality, slight chalkiness, and richness are a welcoming sensation.
Concrete fermentation w/ indigenous yeasts and bacteria Stainless Steel and neutral French Oak aging.
You can buy the wine in 750 ml bottles, but if you reside within driving distance of the Barlow, pick up a refillable liter jug. Then go out to the Sonoma coast and enjoy it with the waves and the birds.
P.S. Make sure to drink responsibly and don’t drink and drive especially if you go to the coast because those roads are crazy dangerous.
Check out the Wines of the Heart Series