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Favorite summer wines?

I've got a few standby wines that I drink, chilled and not, in the summer, starting with anything from Bonny Doon and TJ's Vinho Verde, but I'm wondering what reds under $20 you like to drink with summer cookouts and lighter cooking-- preferably some that can stand a little chilling.


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  1. Does it have to be red? Because, though I've long been a strictly red drinker, I've gotten hooked on an unusual white that's just smashing with summer foods and in summer heat. Torrontes. Specifically, the Torrontes from Crios de Susana Balbo. It has a unique bouquet – both minerally and flowery (violets), and is very soft in the mouth, though it has good alcohol. If I recall your location correctly, you can find it at Big Y with the Argentinian whites. @ $15/bottle. There's a lovely rosé from Crios, as well.

    And you can't go wrong with a nice Tavel (very dry rosé from the Rhone valley).

    If it has to be red, a young Zinfandel actually likes a slight chill. Haven't been drinking much Zin lately, though, so I can't recommend a specific one.

    1 Reply
    1. re: GG Mora

      GG, thanks, it doesn't have to be red-- I just have a set stock of whites that I like-- but I am always willing to try something new. I'm actually back in Boston, no longer in W. Mass., : (, but I will look for it around here. I am sure someone has it.

    2. It's a bit costly for every day drinking (at least for me), but Chateaneuf du Pape blanc are the ones that are doing it with the extra 'aaahhhh' for me this summer.

      Vieux Telegraphe 2002 and 2003 "La Crau" have been excellent aperitif so far this summer.

      1. In the past several years several of the producers in Napa have done very nice Rose's. Robert Sinskey's Vin Gris of Pinot Noir is outstanding and is under $20. Elyse does a field blend Rose that's $15 and is excellent. Had one at Markham on Saturday that was also very good, again, pinot based, and well under $20. All of these wines a dry and outstanding served chilled.

        There are several others also, Miner Family's Rosoto, Augar-Martucchi has one.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rtmonty

          i've been drinking Buttonwood's 2005 rose (from santa ynez valley area) and just loving it. $15

        2. I like a nice light New Zealand pinot noir such as Kim Crawford or Sherwood. Great BBQ/picnic wines and good lightly chilled, screw-tops, about $20 Cdn so probably less for you.

          If you're open to a sweet white once in a while, check out a Moscato d'Asti. Had one from Cristina Ascheri (2005) and was impressed with the balance, though some will definitely find it too sweet. With a light fizz (here in Quebec it's sold with the sparklers, but it isn't in a champagne-type bottle) and beer-like alcohol (5.5% abv), it made a fine, refreshing first bottle after a long, hot day. $19 Cdn in my location, no idea how much it will cost where you are. :)

          I should add that a dry Torrontes would be a good gauge of whether you might like a Moscato, as they share similar floral qualities (though I haven't had the specific torrontes mentioned by GG Mora).

          1. I am with rmonty on roses. The Sinsky is nice. There is also a widely available Mas de Gourgonnier right now that is generally about half the price and also has a bit of body without a big dose of strawberry. I love Bandols but they are pricier and I am not seeing many this year anyway. Garretson makes a red rose you might find fun. I have dropped the wine club as I can no longer drink that style but I liked it once upon a time. For reds (as you requested): you might try a nebbiolo (I like the Langhe) or a US pinot noir (Babcock is a good bet) or Domaine Alfred's DA Red. Actually I haven't had it this year nor have I seen it on the east coast but used to love it. Other blends like that are good for summer too. Personally I like sparkling for summer!

            1. Last week we tried, and I loved, a new rose.

              Innocent Bystander Pinot Rose. It was $16 and delicious! It's Australian.

                1. In Italy they make light reds for drinking in the summer after the vintage--e.g. Chianti, Bardolino, grignolino--but I never see those in the U.S.

                  Summery whites:

                  1. The Loire is the source of a lot of my summer wines, red, white and rosé. Gamay de Touraine is affordable, quaffable, low alcohol and best slightly chilled. I also like the gamay-based blends from the same area. Pink Chinon is as delicate and minerally a rosé as you could ask for (though not the 2005 cherry Kool-aid from René Couly I uncorked the other day). The herby, citrusy gush of sauvignon blanc and chenin blanc wines is a perfect antidote to muggy weather. Plus there are all those off-the-beaten-path varieties like romorantin, grolleau, menu pineau and pineau d'aunis to investigate.

                    But you were asking about reds that can take a little chilling. Cru Beaujolais from the likes of Brun and Michel Tête. Inexpensive pinot noir such as Mr. F mentions. Second wines from certain southwest French producers (Montauriol and Cahauzac in the Frontonnais, Causse Marines in Gaillac, Cosse Maisonneuve in Cahors, some of Brumont's low-end Madiran and Gascogne). And a whole bunch of vins de pays from all over the place.

                    New on my list this year are a couple of bottles of Bugey Cerdon, an 8% off-dry red sparkler made from gamay and possibly poulsard in the Savoie. Frothy summer fun.

                    Ijalba's Rioja Riserva, Borsao from Campo de Borja, Atrium from Torres, Altano from Douoro -- all regulars from the Iberian peninsula. Robertson shiraz from South Africa is a recent addition.

                    And GG's right about certain zins. Louis Martini used to make a Beaujolais-weight zin that was great chilled and perfect with Cajun-style blackened fish, though I haven't seen a bottle in years.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: carswell

                      Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil is another Loire Valley red that does well with a bit of a chill.

                    2. I'm a huge fan of sauvignon blanc from New Zealand (Marlborough). At the moment I've become a great fan of this Austrian gruner veltliner that my local shop has started carrying--> Weingut h.u.m. Hofer Gruner Veltliner 2005 - it comes in a one liter green bottle with a bottle cap (like a bottle of soda!). Super bright, crisp and clean with a touch of pepper. Here is a link to what the bottle looks like: http://www.greenegrape.com/index.asp?...

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: antjones9

                        I've heard that at Austrian drinking parties everyone gets his own bottle.

                        "Gruner is the one wine to have when you're having more than one."

                        1. re: antjones9

                          I just bought some of this, what is it??? It tasted a bit like a combination of wine and beer to me???

                          1. re: 4chowpups

                            It's wine made from the gruner veltliner grape and, in my opinion, very delicious.

                            1. re: 4chowpups

                              I would guess that if it tasted like a combination of wine and beer, you might have had a corked bottle. Did you mean beer like yeasty, skunked, or musty? Otherwise, it might have been a really inferior bottle. I've had lots of Gruners, some much better than others, but never one that tasted like beer.

                          2. I'm also a huge fan of Txakoli from the Basque region.

                            For something more red, go to a good wine store and ask for a brachetto. I'm not fond of most roses or even lambruscos, but brachetto really goes down easy. A good one should be full of strawberry fragrance, on the sweet side, fizzy, as red as a light red wine, and very refreshing. It's a little too sweet for me to drink a lot of by itself, but it's easy to drink a lot of it with food or dessert.

                              1. I like a nice dry rose. Can't recommend a particular one as the two I like are from local wineries (RI and CT). I think french roses are generally the way to go.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: JaneRI

                                  Domaine Tempier rose is great, but priced to match.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    There are some excellent roses from the south of France that are in the $10-$15 price range. I like Domaine de Fontsainte and Domaine de St. Martin de la Garigue. Anything imported by Kermit Lynch is going to be good. Almost anything from Bandol is likely to be good.

                                    I also like the Fiddlehead (US) rose.

                                    1. re: Darren72

                                      St-Martin de la Garigue is one of my favourite Languedoc estates. Both reds are great and the white is often exceptional. Have never encountered the rosé. Do you know what grape varieties are used?

                                      1. re: carswell

                                        Their website is only in French (see http://www.stmartingarrigue.com/) but I belive it says they us carignan and grenache noir.

                                        Domaine Poujol also makes a great rose.

                                        1. re: carswell

                                          Thanks for the link, Darren. The varieties listed for the Rosé Tradition are syrah, grenache noir and cinsault. Had no idea they made so many wines. The only three we see are the red Cuvée Bronzinelle and Cuvée St Martin de la Garigue and the white Cuvée St Martin. Will have to contact the agent to see if he offers any of the others on a private import basis.

                                          1. re: carswell

                                            If you like the St. Martin, you'd probably like many of Kermit Lynch's other southern French wines. He started a website a short while ago (kermitlynch.com) and it has his monthly newsletter, which has great tasting notes. You can order directly from his retail shop in Berkeley. Assuming they will ship to your state, my recollection is that you don't pay sales tax, though you do pay shipping, and you receive a case discount. Plus, his retail prices tend to be cheaper than what you'd pay buying the same wine in another store (the latter go through a distributor).

                                            1. re: carswell

                                              I'm a Lynch fan from way back and always make a point of dropping by his store on my rare trips to the SFBA (not hard, since Chez Panisse is another personal Mecca). Unfortunately (from a shipping standpoint, I mean), not only do I not live in a reciprocal state, I don't even live in the US. Fortunately, the local wine monopoly and private importers are big on French wine, so many of the estates he represents and ones like them are available through Quebec channels.

                                              1. re: carswell

                                                Ah, sorry - of course I presumed you were in the states! :)

                                        2. Another favorite:

                                          PRIEURE SAINT HIPPOLYTE ROSE

                                          for info see:

                                          1. If you can get your hands on this white try it out...I LOVE IT-tried it by the glass in a fabulous restaurant in DC and called them for the name. It's a Greek white-Samaropetra KYP-Iannh (Kir Ianni)? Spelling may be off it's in Greek and my bf ordered a case of it...

                                            1. I am almost embarrassed to admit... Beringer Chenin Blanc has become a staple here. Why embarrassing? Aside from being Beringer (which just makes me think of white zin) the stuff is 4 to 5 bucks a bottle. (It behaves well in recipes, as well, which is a plus.)

                                              Though it behaves well in cooking, it's not an easy wine to pair, so it's become my go-to when I feel like a cool glass of wine in the afternoon/evening.

                                              1. I just had something that my local shop (Silverlake Wine) recommended: it was a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Welschriesling and Muller Thurgau, and it was SO good! I can't remember the name of the winery, but the name of the wine was Cuvee Styria. And it only cost something like $10!