Summer’s Almost Over… So Drink Up!

Though it may not feel like it here in the US, it’s almost time for the temperature to start dropping. Whether you’re enjoying a mild heat in New England, suffering through air quality warnings in the humid mid-Atlantic, or staying indoors to avoid the sweltering 110 degrees of the western deserts, all these hot times call for a crisp glass of white wine.

There are, of course, several styles to choose from, from the most aggressive, acidic thirst-quencher to the most pleasant, sugary summer sipper and many in between. If you’re planning to send summer out in style with a glass or two, I have a few recommendations that just might make the season seem less severe. Let’s go to the board:

Sauvignon Blanc: In case you haven’t been reading much of my blog, I can let you know that I swear by this grape. Especially those from New Zealand, the Sauvignon Blanc grape delivers a consistent experience whether it’s grown in France, California, or New Zealand: acidity with citrus flavors, as refreshing as a glass of ice cold lemonade. Very rarely a sweet wine, the Sauvignon Blanc is nevertheless a standard goto for inexperienced wine drinkers. Recommendations under $20: Barker’s Marque, Matua, Kim Crawford

Picpoul: Possessing an acidity and body similar to a Sauvignon Blanc, but with a lighter citrus (think lemon-lime) and more tropical flavor profile, the Picpoul is an underrepresented varietal wine here in the US. Typically from the Picpoul de Pinet region in Languedoc, France, this wine provides the same consistency as the Sauvignon Blanc. Also an aggressively dry wine, it’s still a very pleasant sipping wine. Recommendations under $20: Hugues de Beauvignac, Chateau Petit Roubie, Hugues Beaulieau La Petite Frog (3 liter box)

yellow and blue torrontes cartonTorrontes: Torrontes is a varietal wine that grows extraordinarily well on the western coast of South America. The combination of high altitude, long days, consistently mild seasons, and volcanic soil all create the conditions for a unique, fuller-bodied dry white wine to shine. Torrontes will have a floral and citrus profile, offering perfumey aromas that combine with a decent sweetness and acidity for a very soft, creamy experience. Novice drinkers will especially appreciate the straightforward flavors this wine offers. Torrontes is also a natural complement to most seafood dishes. Recommendations under $20: Gouguenheim, Yellow + Blue (1 Liter Tetrapak), Susana Balbo

Riesling: Riesling is a varietal wine that varies very greatly depending on its region and its winemaker. You can get syrupy sweet dessert wines, bone-dry, acidic tongue-tinglers, and everything in between with flavors across the fruit and floral spectrum. Depending on the terroir, you can also get a good dose of mineral or metal.  Recommendations under $20: Cono Sur, Dr. Loosen, Jacob’s Creek

What do you guys think? Any other recommendations for beating the summer heat? Need to know where to find some wines in your area? Leave a comment, and I’ll do my best to help!

Yet Another Summer Wine Value

The Back Story:

As you may have gathered by now, I’m a big promoter of two trends in wine: local production and organic and sustainable winemaking. Usually I discover these facts about a winery before I try their wares, as I actively seek out local and organic wines. This time, however, I didn’t figure out this particular wine was organic until the second bottle around, after I’d already taken my notes on it.

Which wine? Chateau Petit Roubié‘s 2009 Picpoul de Pinet. An impulse buy as I dashed through my local organic food shop (Weaver Street Market), the Picpoul was a varietal I hadn’t had in some time, and I wanted to rectify it in a hurry. I was pleasantly surprised by its complexity and crispness. As you also may have gathered, I love a high, aggressive acidity in my white wines despite my propensity for getting heartburn. When this shop gets in a new wine, I’m always eager to try it.

Certified organic since 2001, Chateau Petit Roubié embraces a poetically simple organic attitude:

Feed the soil to feed the plant, stimulate the biological activity of the soil, help the plant to resist disease and pests without contaminating the environment, avoid trace residue, maintain as far as possible an integrity with regard to the natural surroundings. These are the basic objectives of biological farming.

Petit Roubié claims Picpoul as their AOC. While they offer their red varietals of Alicante, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Merlot, and Syrah and white varietals of Carignan Blanc, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Sèmillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Terret Bourret, and Viognier as vin de pays in the spirit of their region, their wine proudly contributes to the 2000 year old Picpoul tradition as a village wine in the area.

You can explore all the producers in the Picpoul de Pinet region here. For now, let’s focus on the wine at hand…

The Results:

Chateau Petit Roubie Picpoul GlassThe appearance of the wine is a light golden color with a medium viscosity and a slight green tint.

The nose of the wine is comprised largely of citrus and orchard fruits, though there’s a floral component. Lemon and pear are largely featured, as is a slightly sweet honeyed scent.

The mouth feel of the wine is on the heavier side of medium-bodied, with a tangy, full, creamy texture.

The flavor of the wine is very full, very crisp, very dry, with massive fruit forwardness, primarily citrus. Green apple and lemon match a puckering acidity very well on the attack, and pineapple and mineral flavors persist through the finish, which is moderate. The wine is bone dry but well-balanced. They say “drink it young at 8°C”, or under 50°F, and this is assuredly a drink-now affair; it’ll do just fine practically right out of the fridge tomorrow. The wine’s flavor did suffer heavily as it warmed, so make sure you keep this one on ice.

For the Casual Drinker:

This is yet another strong, refreshing white wine built for the summer days. It’s a value buy, not just a bargain, at $11, as my mate Steve Paulo at Notes From The Cellar will gladly and bluntly differentiate. It delivers a beautiful balance, a full-bodied flavor, and a complexity beyond the typical Sauvignon Blanc-esque summer fare. With pleasant, agreeable citrus flavors and a palpable acidity, it’ll make a good pairing for any of your spicy seafood endeavors. Just make sure you keep it cool… the wine begins to lose its crispness and takes on a bitter flavor as it gets warmer.

The Conclusion:

This might be one of those wines where a subjective concept of balance comes into play. Personally, I love the acidity on this wine, though it might  be offputting or overwhelming to some palates. I believe it sustains the flavor very well without contributing a sour or bitter undertone. If acidic wines are your thing, Picpoul is a varietal for you, and this particular one is a great value look at a very focused, up-and-coming wine-making region in Languedoc. 7/10

In Case You Missed It:

Wine: Picpoul de Pinet

Producer: Chateau Petit Roubie

Region: Picpoul de Pinet, Languedoc, France

Varietal(s): 100% Picpoul

Vintage: 2009

Residual Sugar: unknown

Alcohol: 12.5%

pH: unknown

Price: $11

Purchased at: Weaver Street Market (Hillsborough, NC)

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