Choose the right wines for summertime
- Credit: Archant
Blue skies and long very hot sunny days are becoming the norm this summer along with al fresco dining whether a simple salad, barbecue or three course dinner.
It’s the season to seek out crisp white wines and lighter reds, especially those that can be chilled. Fortunately, the range available to tickle our taste buds is very varied with vine growers and wine makers rising to the challenge to offer new wines - some from unexpected grape varieties.
In New Zealand the Austrian wine maker Hermann Seifried has shown that grapes from his native country grow well.
He is producing delicious wines such as the Seifried Estate Gruner Veltliner, with its generous crisp fruit flavours featuring hints of white pepper and a lovely underlying minerality, or the red Seifried Estate Zweigelt which is loaded in fruit intensity and combines soft toasty oak and lovely savoury fruit notes on the nose and palate.
In this heat both wines can be served cool though not cold in the case of the Zweigelt making them very appealing accompaniments to summer meals. They grow well in Austria too where the New Zealand tanginess is replaced with broad textured fruit as well as the pepper for Gruner Veltliner and a great blend of spice and ripe cherry fruit and black pepper which is gentle yet refreshing.
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Red wines from Beaujolais and the Loire also fit this category as do lighter Spanish Grenache and Italian Barbera based wines.
I recently enjoyed an Albarino from New Zealand too - it is a grape variety mostly confined to Spain but this was delicious with its tangy combination of peach, melon and lime notes. It’s also known as Alvarinho in Portugal and a great example is the Terra d’Alter Alvarinho Alto Alentejo, which has aromas of white peach and lime leaf, a crisp dry palate and a long finish with exotic stone fruits. Made by an Australian, Peter Bright, it’s well worth seeking out.
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Thinking of new products, one of the most modern new aperitifs was launched by sherry producer Gonzalez Byass last year. Croft Twist is a quite dry slightly sparkly Fino spritz unlike your usual aperitif. It’s a delightful blend of hand-picked English elderflower, luscious lemon, mouth-watering mint and cracking Croft Fino Sherry. Utterly refreshing! Especially when served chilled and shared with friends. And at only 5.5% alcohol it’s a lovely light yet flavoursome drink for lunchtime or a balmy summer’s evening.
Low alcohol Moscato wines produced in Australia such as Mrs Wigley made by Wirra Wirra are also made to enjoy in the heat of summer. They are best served well-chilled and can be great with gin too, creating ginscato! Mrs Wigley was not the wife of Wirra Wirra founder Bob Wigley but a cat born at a neighbouring residence and a permanent fixture in the cellars of the winery. This is a sweetly fruity, lightly-sparkling rose made from Grenache grapes.
Riesling-based wines, especially from Germany are also quintessentially summer wines with light floral aromas, naturally lower alcohol and a variety of styles. Look out for the Trocken and halbtrocken wines too.
Another summer trend is for barbecye reds with flavour and texture – check out the Fazzoletto Barbera Passito which is fresh, vibrant and juicy red with flavours of sweet ripe plums and cherries. The character of this wine is a result of the rediscovery of the old tradition of using partially-dried grapes to add richness and concentration.
Following the traditional passito technique - a portion of ripe Barbera grapes (around 20%), left on the vine for nearly a month after the main harvest to sun dry, were blended with fresh Barbera grapes before fermentation. This sweetens, enriches and softens the resulting acidity.
Why not try some and see for yourself which wines you prefer with your summer dishes?