Not that we needed too much reminding—surely the abusive winter was reminder enough—but this week, Eric Asmiov, in his piece “Summer’s Winners; 20 Wines for $20,” did his best to persuade us to kick back, take a load off, and reinvest in the spirit of summer wine drinking. Memorial Day is only a breath away and, as Asimov puts it, summer drinking is, “the vibe,” so we’re here to highlight some of the selections that he has chosen for his column. He has focused his attention on fun, quaffable, and affordable wines and we’ve curated our own selection, based on his picks, which we’d like to share with you:
Domaine Chahut et Prodiges Vin de France La Mule 2011, Jenny & François Selections, New York –$16.96
Another Loire gamay, grown on limestone and clay in the Touraine, this is pure deliciousness: fresh and vibrant with sweet fruit flavors, yet dry and thoroughly refreshing.
Domaine Rimbert Saint-Chinian Le Mas au Schiste 2009, Jenny & François Selections, New York –$16.99
An old favorite that’s always luscious. This blend of syrah, carignan and grenache offers aromas of herbs and olives, but it’s from a ripe year, and so the dominant flavors are of bright red and black fruits. It borders on jamminess, but it’s so finely balanced that it stays lively and refreshing.
Ameztoi Getariako Txakolina 2013, De Maison Selections, Chapel Hill, N.C.–$19.99
Txakolina is the national drink of Spanish Basque country, where a vast amount is consumed every summer. This particular version is from the Getaria region, where the Txakolina tends to be slightly fizzy and low in alcohol, encouraging plenty of thirst-quenching chugging. The Ameztoi is fresh and slightly briny, with flavors of lemon and lime. It calls out for sardines, anchovies and all manner of seafood.
Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut NV–$19.97
This standard-bearer for moderately priced California sparkling wine impresses year after year. Those sensitive to sweetness will note a discernible dosage, making the wine a bit out of step as sparkling wines have become drier over recent years. Yet it is impeccably balanced and refreshing, with flavors of citrus and yeast, perfect for sipping on the deck, if I had a deck.
La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Alberdi Reserva 2007, Michael Skurnik Wines, New York–$19.96
Viña Alberdi is a great value in Rioja from an old-school producer that still ages the wine before releasing it. It’s well shaped and structured with classic Rioja flavors of spicy red fruit framed by the mellow vanilla of American oak. I’m not usually a fan of oaky wine, but in traditionally made Riojas, softened by a few years of age, the flavors just fit.
Bohigas Cava Reserva Brut Nature NV, Polaner Selections, Mount Kisco, N.Y.–$19.96
Among the world’s sparkling wines, cava, the Spanish version, can offer some of the worst values (for cheap but vapid mass-produced cava) and some of the best, for carefully made wines like this one from Bohigas. It’s light, frothy, zesty and fresh, with a cloudlike purity that demands refills. Shrimp and oysters, please.
Dirler-Cadé Alsace Sylvaner Vieilles Vignes 2011, T. Edward Wines, New York–$19.99
Perhaps rightly, silvaner (or sylvaner, as it’s often labeled in Alsace) receives little attention. It’s often a relatively neutral grape with little of interest in the way of flavor or texture. But well-made versions like this from Dirler-Cadé can be delightful warm-weather quaffs. Its delicate floral and herbal flavors, lightly fruity and lightly savory, are perfect for an outdoor lunch and whiling away the afternoon.
Produttori del Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo 2012, Vias Imports, New York–$19.99
No season is complete for me without nebbiolo, and among moderately priced bottles few do it as well as Produttori del Barbaresco, one of the world’s greatest wine cooperatives. The 2012 is tannic, of course, but not aggressively so, with flavors of dark fruit and flowers, a suggestion of tar and bright citrus highlights. It’s delicious, but do serve it with food.