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Wine Talk: Summer Wines

Orange has been a republican town for many years and I am sure many of our residents don’t believe in climate change no matter what the scientists say, but this has been one of the hottest Julys I can recall.  The need to match good wine with warm weather has never been greater!  If climate change is valid, then this activity will develop primary importance.  Some great warm weather wines include:

2014 Ricardo Santos Semillon ($16) – The candied lemon aroma of this white suggests it will be sweet, but it isn’t at all—instead it’s crisp and dry, with citrus and mineral notes.

2014 Santa Ema Chardonnay ($16) – Central California winemaker Joey Tensley consults for Santa Emaonwines from their cool Leyda valley vineyards, a mere four miles from the ocean.  This fragrant, peach-tropical fruit Chardonnay shows off his winemaking talents.

2014 Donnafugata Sur Sur Grillo ($18) – A lot of Sicilian Grillo can be very pineappley and almost cloying.  This one, by contrast, is lemon zesty and vibrant, a great summertime white.

Some more great hot weather wines include:  pain has two great contributions to summer drinking:  Viura, from Rioja, and Verdejo, from the Rueda region.  Viura often has a refreshing green-apple tang—El Coto makes a classic example, as does Marqués de Cáceres—while Verdejo tends to have racy flavors of gooseberry and passion fruit, similar to Sauvignon Blanc.  Look for Martínsancho or Naia.  Of course, there’s no reason to give up red wine for months.  Skip the Cabernets and Syrahs and look for lighter-bodied reds; if you can chill them to about 60 degrees, so much the better.  One French red that responds well to chilling is Beaujolais.  The nouveau stuff is little more than aggressively marketed grape juice.  However, the region’s more serious wines, labeled by the village they come from (e.g., Brouilly, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent), are berry-driven reds light enough for fish dishes on a hot day, yet still complex and interesting.  Buy the Nicole Chanrion if you can find it; otherwise Château de la Chaize and Potel-Aviron are very good options.  If you’re torn between white and red, why decide?  Dry rosé (not sweet “blush” wines like White Zinfandel) was created for summer drinking.  It goes well with either meat or fish, and is a favorite of wine professionals on a hot day.  You can buy rosés from practically every winemaking region, and made from practically any grape.  If a rosé is almost as dark as a red wine, or clocks in at a hefty 15 percent alcohol, buy something else.  The south of France is a classic destination for good rosé; try Mas Carlot, Mas de Gourgonnier or Domaine Begude.  For a U.S. rosé, try SoloRosa or l’Uvaggio di Giacomo – you will be glad you did!  Enjoy summer time with good wines.

Ray Spaziani is the Chapter Director of the New Haven Chapter of the American Wine Society.  He teaches wine appreciation classes at Gateway CC and for the Milford Board of Education and is a member of the International Tasting Panel of Amenti Del Vino and Wine Maker Magazine.  He is an award winning home wine maker.  Email Ray with your questions and wine events at realestatepro1000@gmail.com.

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