By Rick Riozza
Born and raised around the beaches of Southern California, heading out to the surf was part of life’s ritual for me. I even remember Tin Can Beach, the nickname for a 3½-mile stretch of sand just north of Huntington Beach. Definitely a wackiness memorial of littering, where rusting tin beer cans of yesteryear were strewn all along the sand and shore.
I recall having to climb around and down rocky sand caves to get to that beach; and one could always count on scraping and wiping off the tar from our heels due to many oil derricks continually pumping away right on the beach—now all cleaned up and known as Bolsa State Beach.
Back in those days, I remember free spirits, families and vacationers would set up tents and stay for days, just laying back and relaxing with an ice-cold beer, glass of wine or bubbly champagne. Sadly, alcohol is not allowed on most California beaches! What’s up with that? Of all places that bespeak “freedom”– looking out at the ocean and taking in fresh air, why can’t we enjoy our adult beverages? I know, public beaches have to regulate for obvious reasons—so many knuckleheads have ruined it for us moderate drinkers.
But there are still a few beaches where those 21-and-up can enjoy their booze by the surf—and, of course moderately: Carmel Beach comes to mind; Paradise Cove in Malibu; Kehoe Beach at Point Reyes; and Descanso Beach on Catalina Island.
So, assuming we’re at those beaches, or at a liberal beach nearby you, or if you’re still soaking up the memories, these are some of the beach weather refreshing wines we’d be chilling and quaffing on the sand & shore:
Surely we’ll be sipping on Sauv Blancs and chasing down charming un-oaked and light bodied Chards; but as the wine world is learning, there are many fun, interesting, and zesty white wines to enjoy in the slow hot wind.
One of our favorite Spanish white wines, not only to savor but to pronounce, is Txakoli [CHOC-oh-lee], or Txakolina [choc-oh-LEE- na]. Yep—that’s right, it sounds like the name of a new chocolate bar. From the Basque country on the northern coast of Spain, this is one of the wines we traditionally see in colorful Iberian food & wine videos where one is pouring the wine right into the mouth from one’s arm distance away. Indeed, when pouring the wine at the table, do it from a foot higher so it foams a bit in the glass.
Txakoli is light bodied and low in alcohol but high with refreshing acidity, and ever so lightly pétillant (fizzy). The usual flavors you’ll find are green apples, citrus, flowers, grapefruit, grass, lemon lime, minerals, peaches, pears, sea breeze, spices, stones, and yeast. Chill it up big time, around 40 to 45 degrees. Pairs with tapas (of course), chicken, crab, sushi, and if your local Thai restaurant doesn’t have this wine on their list, bring a bottle in and share some with the owner—they may even waive the corkage fee!
The very popular Ameztoi Txakolina ($20) is bone dry, bright and scented with lime, along with that light fiz! It has a wonderful minerality and a trace of salinity that makes it an ideal pairing for raw oysters and clams, seafood platters, and more.
And while we’re at it—probably one of the sexiest choices for a rosé this summer is a Rosé Txakolina. If you’re serving this rosé at either a pool party or during alfresco dining, plan to get nominated for Who’s Who in the Vino Times.
Winery notes for the Amextoi Rubentis Rosé ($23) state“Candied red fruits combine with a lime infused edge makes this a wildly intriguing rosé. Incisive, mineral-accented citrus fruit and red berry scents, along with a suave floral nuance; harmonious in the mouth, freshness that reminds you of strawberry sour caramel, tasting cheerful because of its bubbles. Silky and sharply focused on the palate, showing juicy strawberry, orange zest and mineral qualities and a deeper suggestion of peach pit. The mineral and floral elements carry through a very long, precise, seamless finish.”
Avila Beach comes to mind as being another California playa to allow beer and wine on its shore. South and inland from that beach is the Santa Maria Valley that produces a Riesling wine that’s perfect in the summer sun.
On a hot day the Tatomer Riesling Sisquoc Santa Maria Valley ($22) is cool and refreshing; a graceful summer wine with a light, silky texture and a hint of lime and melon. If you don’t know already, Tatomer is famously known in California to produce its own type and style or Riesling. Not sweet but rather dry with subtle flavors reflecting flowers, minerals, apples, and lime. Once you share this wine with friends, they too will become dry Riesling lovers.
And while we’re figuratively close by, let’s do recommend the 2016 Dragonette Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Happy Canyon, Santa Barbara County ($30). This fairly new American Viticulture Area (2009) Happy Canyon, is said to be a genius spot for Sauvignon Blanc. On the eastern end of the Santa Ynez Valley, the rolling hill’s tiny Happy Canyon also produces top quality reds of Cab Sauv, Cab Franc & Syrah. The region’s low-nutrient soil grows smaller vines and in turn, higher quality wine grapes.
This Dragonette Cellars provides a fresh white wine scented with citrus & melon that’s dry with a stony character which makes excellent summer drinking: Happy Canyon, with its unique soils and climate—warm to hot summer days and cool to cold evenings—is ideal for promoting full phenolic ripeness while still retaining critical acidity. This bottling is explosive with bright yellow and tropical fruits and melons balanced by fresh, clean and present acidity. It’s the ideal quaff for those California girls and guys who love their Sauv blanc without the grassy notes.
Totally tubular dude—cheers!