We’ve all been enjoying chilled reds, whites, and rosés throughout the summer months, but in light of recent heat waves, it’s safe to say that winter winds will be quite welcome. If freakish temperature fluctuations are any indication that Global Warming is indeed upon us, winter could very well strike as early as September.
With Labor Day just one month a way, it’s tempting to celebrate white wine while you still can. Perhaps you’ve got a refrigerator filled with half bottles from your last garden party, or your wine cellar is overflowing with Chardonnay specials from the local liquor store. Think of it, too, as a last hurrah. When the sandals, shorts, and skin go back in the closet, a little inhibition follows. Fall carries with it a sense of seriousness, not to mention the High Holidays – so get your kicks now while you’ve still got summer as an excuse.
Here are some of my old favorites as well as some new discoveries.
Monastero Suore Cistercensi “Coenobium Rusticum 2008 is a stellar exemplar of Roman terroir. It’s smoky and rich with mineral notes. The blend of local varieties Trebbiano, Verdicchio, Malvasia, and Grechetto is produced by leaving the skins on longer for fuller more intense flavors of fruit, flowers and a satisfying sea salty finish.
Cantine Lunae Vermentino from the Colle di Luni appellation between Tuscany and Liguria is still one of my favorite Vermentinos. The coastal and breezy placement of the vineyards on slopes in full sunshine makes for a rich body and a honey-smooth palate. It’s dry and crisp in the finish however with a balanced salinity.
Bartenura Prosecco (Kosher) is dry and bubbly. Drink it on its own or use it for cocktails. One of my favorite ways to use Prosecco before the bubbles run out is an Aperol Spritz or a Kir Cocktail. For the Aperol Spritz, add a dash of Aperol (The softer, sweeter cousin to bitter Campari) and garnish with a slice of orange. Crème de Cassis is a black currant flavored liqueur. A few drops of it can transform any sparkling wine into a ripe berry vine in full bloom and the vinous quality of Prosecco calls to mind green leaves. Plus, if your bubbles need a little revival a spritz of seltzer will do the trick.
Paumonak Sauvignon Blanc is one of this summer’s discoveries – first at the oyster bar and then on site at their Long Island Winery. Crisp, minerally and light-bodied, this is white wine you could drink all night and never loose your train of thought (or your dignity). It’s an elegant throwback to the days before 13 and 14% alcohol were the norm.
Chilean label Estampa Estate Viognier also contains a small percentage of Chardonnay. Not only is this wine easy on the wallet, it’s easy on the oak. The fruit and honey flavors really come through but the finish is dry with a crisp acidity.
Last but not least, ice cream pairings are hard to handle, but Herzog Chenin Blanc Late Harvest 2008 is a delightful companion to summery gelato flavors like vanilla, lemon, caramel or peach.