By Rick Riozza
For those of you vino die-hards who are not enjoying the chilling cocktails around town nor chugging down some ice-cold brews, we’re coming to the aid of our countrymen with a nice little list and comments about some of the summer sippers we’ve been savoring.
At 110+ temperatures outside, we are especially looking for wine whose tastes are interesting and fun that can take our mind off of the heat. Certainly, we’ll be looking to refreshing Pinot Grigio, savvy Sauvignon blancs, and rosey rosés, but one of the most surprising wines out this torrid season is a Riesling from Washington State.
2016 Kung Fu Girl Riesling ($12): For those of you wine drinkers who unfortunately remember the very sweet Rieslings of days past, the wait is over as the Riesling wine world has caught up with some bright and refreshing quaffs. This 2016 Kung Fu Girl is fun, interesting and is the life of the party.
The Riesling [REE-sling or REE-zling] grape is one of the most aromatic grapes we know. Its heavy fumes can knock you around on a very hot day, so it takes talent to tame that baby down. So “rock-star” or “rebel” winemaker, Charles Smith, took it upon himself to show the world that his Washington Riesling is the real deal exhibiting a thirst-quenching quaff that’s off-dry, lightly spritzy, with solid stone-fruit flavors.
It’s opening aromas pull you in immediately with tantalizing notes of flowers, white peach, jasmine, honeysuckle, herbs, and lime; one can tell they are in for a tangy and zingy wine. We mentioned it’s “off-dry”; however that description can often vary as to where on the “lightly-sweet” scale does it fit. Here, there is only 1.4% residual sugar at 12% alcohol. This means there is just a hint of sweetness—a la Riesling, of course, which adds to its juiciness but is balanced by its racy acidity. Perfect for our desert summer!
Some more flavors you’ll encounter are white peach, citrus blossom, lychee, apricot, mandarin orange, and of course lime! And doesn’t this description just scream out for Asian/Indonesian dishes. And we’re always quick to mention that a chilled Riesling is always on point with the hot & spicy meals. I recently prepared some cayenne chicken wings and served it up with the Kung Fu Girl, and it was the bomb!!
2015 BoomBoom! Syrah ($18): And speaking of bombs, check this Syrah out with its explosive aromas! I know—Syrah in the heat? —what’s up here? For those who still clamor for a red wine in the summertime, this fits the bill for a grilling or barbecue match with burgers, ribs, and steaks.
Que Syrah Syrah: A decade ago, Syrah was the popular new kid on the block showing up on many a shelf in our markets. The interest somehow diminished with the onslaught of Pinot Noir and more and more Cabs. But currently there is resurgence for Syrah because it’s blended a bit lighter these days maintaining its juiciness and continuing with its velvet smooth texture.
The Reverse Wine Snob is right on with the description of the BoomBoom! Syrah. “It begins with an enticing aroma full of blackberries, white pepper, hints of smoked meat and beautiful floral notes. Taking a sip reveals lots of meaty, dark juicy fruit and other flavors familiar to the nose. This is a smooth, really nice example of Syrah that’s actually rather Northern Rhone-ish. Firm tannins and some nice mineral notes lead into the dry finish.”
At only 13.5% alcohol, it’s an ideal red for the hot days and nights. At a meal of saucy charred ribs, the wine showed some lively raspberry and blueberry notes along with its usual pepper and grilled herb flavors.
2017 Band of Roses Rosé ($13): Since both of the wines above are a product of our “rebel” winemaker, Charles Smith, we may as well include his new “Pinot Grigio” Rosé as a recommended summer sipper. We actually wrote on this Washington wine recently in our June Rosé article:
“For those who know their familiar Pinot Grigio to be a white wine—well realize that normally, this grape has a grayish/brownish pink skin (hence the name gris, or gray, in French). Leave the grape skins in the mix for a bit and your white wine will quickly reflect some sort of pinkish/copper hue.” Well that’s exactly what Smith was wont to do.
This Band of Roses is pale pink in color but plush in texture; this crisp wine features fresh flavors delivered of lilac, guava, tangerine, passionfruit and cut hay. This is new world Pinot Gris in a lively shade.
Chile and Argentina have a long history as wine regions, dating back to the 16th century when the Spanish conquistadors brought vines with them as they colonized. The country’s wine making talents continue to soar while maintaining such reasonable prices. Viña San Pedro is one of the most important wineries in Chile and one of the country’s most significant exporters. They have just announced the U.S. launch of their newest brand: 9 Lives
2016 San Pedro 9 Lives Reserve Sauvignon Blanc ($9.99): This Sauvignon Blanc comes from Chile’s Central Valley, the most productive and internationally known wine region there. This 100% elegant Sauvignon Blanc is a fresh and balanced wine with aromas of lemon, peach, light grass, and a touch of bell pepper. Tart lemon and grapefruit notes dominate the crisp palate and carries into a long lingering finish; pairing perfectly with fish and shellfish. And what a great price!
Cheers!—stay cool & sip safely!