By: Text: Phillip Rhodes
When choosing a wine, it is best to remember to importance of the season and the food pairings. With that in mind, we have chosen a few of our favorite varieties to help you narrow down your selections.
This is an organic offering from Australia's McLaren Vale. Since it's unoaked, it retains a crisp, natural acidity; stone fruit and citrus flavors shine through.
Gunderloch 2007 Riesling Kabinett Jean-Baptiste reveals bright acidity, floral notes, and a hint of minerals in the aroma. Sweet fruit flavors and a slight bitterness provide perfect balance for many spring dishes.
2007 Gabbiano Chianto Classico has a floral aroma that's laced with a nice little funk. The flavor is all peppercorn spice, cherries, and blackberries with enough tannins to give it structure. Serve this jammy wine with tomato-based soups and stews and classic pasta dishes like spaghetti and meatballs and lasagna.
When 90° temps stretch well into the evening, here’s a superb hot-summer sipper that’s great served solo or with supper: light, crisp Navarro Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc from Mendocino. Round with pleasant notes of pear and melon, but also has enough refreshing acidity to pair well with fish and shellfish.
If you think most white wines are boring—thin and acidic, or loud and oak-sweet—here’s the cure: Tupun Torrontés. The rising-star torrontes grape is almost exclusive to Argentina. Peachy, floral flavors tango with crisp citrus notes, making this a superb summer wine, with food or just for sipping.
French-style bubbly that bursts with California fruit: Mumm Napa Brut Rosé (NV) is a delightful sparkler. Strawberries dominate the aroma, but the flavor is a complex blend of fruit and vanilla balanced by tart citrus and rich, round yeasty notes. Fabulous served solo, or pairs well with foods like salad or crispy chicken.
Sauvignon blanc is a refreshing way to toast spring. Mount Nelson 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand boasts grapefruit flavor with a kiss of lime and enough sweetness to balance.
Like most Côtes du Rhône wines, 2008 Paul Jaboulet Ainè Parallèle 45 Blanc is a blend. The wine owes its fruity flavor to the small percentage of viognier, but grenache blanc gives it body and crisp acidity.
For an affordable red with hints of vanilla, jammy dark fruit, and a lightly smoky finish, try Layer Cake 2008 Malbec. Pair it with braised lamb or poulty like duck with fruit sauce.
This selection has rich eath and smoke in the nose, but the flavor is unexpectedly fruity, redolent of dried cherries and currants up front and balanced by a nice acidity. A tasty pinot noir that's under $20—now that's a find!
Rioja rules in Spain, and Gran Familia from Castillo de Fuenmayor is a terrific wine for the price point. It's spicy with a touch of must on the nose and a fruity, cherry flavor.
Marcel Deiss Pinot Blanc Bergheim is ripe with peach aromas, but tart citrus notes and a mineral quality keeps it from being cloying. Even with its full body and almost oaky finish, we still recommend this as a lovely summer sipper.
With citrus and green apple flavors and mild effervescence, Aveleda Fonte 2008 Vinho Verde is quite possibly the best $7 wine you'll find. It's a good sipper, but food-friendly, too.
We tasted this selection against tempranillo-based wines up to twice the price; this one hits the flavor-value bull's-eye. Among its qualities: lots of cherry fruit, some vanilla and spicie. Good acidity and a nice round mouthfeel make this a versatile red.
Affordable French red wine? Oui! Clos La Coutale 2008 ($14) is a bargain blend of malbec and merlot from Cahors in the southwest corner of France. Dark and tannic, as most malbecs are, but balanced with plummy fruit from the merlot. Finishes with rich dark chocolate. Enjoy it now with beef or duck.