WRITTEN BY PHILLIP SILVERSTONE
For Digital First Media
Summer always seems synonymous with a chilled draught lager being poured into a tall, frosted glass and each sip being followed with the sound of “aah!,” coming from the imbiber’s satisfaction at the elixir “hitting the spot.” But as we all know, wine can be just as pleasing on a sultry summer’s day.
I’ve selected a number of wines that I will share with you over the next couple of weeks which will all work brilliantly during this wretchedly sweaty season.
Blandy’s Alvada 5 Year Old Madeira, Portugal (approximately $18). Madeira is a fortified Portuguese wine made in the Madeira Islands. Many people think of this wine as a festive quaff and for the cold wintry months, but I totally disagree. I’ve kept the Blandy’s bottle in my fridge since it arrived and it is the most awesomely satisfying summer drink on the planet. It has a sherry-like disposition, not as cloying as port and yet sweet and fresh with a nutty, raisin, treacle, molasses and tea taste, and full of dark fruits. Blandy’s Alvada has one of those fabulous T-cap closures, which means that you don’t need a corkscrew to open it and that it will stay fresh for many months if stored in a fridge.
Here’s something a little different.
The California Wine Club (https://www.cawineclub.com/) procures handcrafted, award-winning artisan wines from local, family-owned wineries. The club offers a range of flexible subscription options, and I sampled the most popular Premier Series ($39.95 plus shipping), which features two wines per month from boutique wineries. Since wine shipments are restricted in certain states, some of you have holiday homes or relatives in the states where these shipments are permitted, so I thought I’d include this if you can take advantage of it. I decided to sample the wine club’s current selection and received 2 bottles from Gnekow Family Winery (San Joaquin County, CA) Campus Oaks range:
Campus Oaks 2012 Pinot Grigio. The perfect summer deck quaffer. Crisp, fresh lemony flavor that is easy to sip pre dinner or a perfect accompaniment to simple summer foods especially a fish lightly seasoned on the barbecue or a smoked salmon and bagel lunch. One of the best Pinot Grigios I’ve tasted this year.
Campus Oaks Old Vine Zinfandel 2011. Old vines are, for me, the best vines. The grape juice is more concentrated and richer and complex. This particular wine is sourced from four blocks of vineyards which average 80+ years of age, and boy, does it show in the taste. In addition to the Zin there is a drizzling of Petite Sirah and Syrah and the result is a wine full of dark fruit flavors and there’s no mistaking these berry flavors from the first sip. A smooth velvety finish lingers long after the glass is drained.
Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Castelgiocondo Brunello 2009 — Tuscany, Italy (approximately $69). Despite summer being the season for lighter foods and wines, if you’re having barbecued meats or a dish of pasta there’s always a place at the table for a good, solid red wine. And a Brunello is the perfect solution. It comes from Montalcino, a small hilltop town in Tuscany, is made from 100 percent Sangiovese and has to age for a minimum of five years before reaching our shelves. Another reason for drinking this wine in the summer is it’s price. A group of friends vegging out at a barbecue might be more inclined to each kick in some money to savor a glass of this more expensive elixir. The wine is a heady mix of intense dark fruits with a hint of leather. And believe me, leather is as welcome on the palate as it is on your feet. But it’s the fruit tinged with some exotic spicy notes which steal the show.
More summer slurps next week.
Phillip Silverstone’s column appears each week in this publication. “Time Out With Phillip Silverstone” is a weekly two-hour podcast heard exclusively on TuneIn radio anytime and anywhere worldwide either on the free TuneIn app for all smart phones and tablets (Search: Phillip Silverstone) or online on Tunein at: http://bit.ly/1gY2Ht4. “Follow” the show for weekly updates. You can also LIKE Phillip on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Phillipsilverstone and follow him on Twitter: @wining