Sunshine and Summer Wines

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Since I am totally uneducated when it comes to any types of wine or what you do with them, I am so excited to introduce you to my best of the best friend Sarah to fill you guys in on all the wines of summer! After you read this you will wonder to yourself, why doesn't this girl have a blog??? The answer is, I don't know, she should. But you can find her on Twitter and Pintrest so go say hello over there!

With the sunshine, spring flowers in bloom and longer days, I am beginning to shift my choice of wines from the full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignons and brooding Malbecs to the lighter, more refreshing wines of summer.  To me, nothing says summer more than sitting outside on the patio and enjoying a chilled Rosé or barbecuing at the pool and sipping on a refreshing Sauvignon Blanc. While I enjoy margaritas, mojitos and sangria, to me, nothing says summer like drinking a chilled white wine while soaking in the sun and heat. I recently took a trip to Paso Robles to run a half-marathon and wine taste (not at the same time) and want to share with all of the Love, Julie followers a few of the "summer whites" I tried as well as some of my all time favorites.  Wherever you are at in the wine scale - from a wino to a red-only drinker, or a wine connoisseur to a sweet wine only type of drinker (such as Julie), I hope you will be able to take away a few wine tips and be introduced to new wineries and blends to share over a summer BBQ, a dinner for two or even just relaxing after a long day.

Despite all the wine tasting the day before, I finished my half marathon with a new personal best time!

:  I recently became a Rosé convert after trying the L’Aventure Estate Rosé from Paso Robles. Each winery’s Rosé is unique and can be either sweet, dry or somewhere in between.  Rosé wine is made from red grapes (such as Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel, to name a few) that are processed like white grapes, meaning that the skin from the grapes is removed shortly after the grapes are crushed, creating the characteristic pink hue.  A chilled Rosé is perfect for sipping on a warm afternoon or can be paired with a variety of food, including seafood or even a burger (veggie burger for me!), depending on how sweet or dry it is.  I also recently discovered sparkling rosé – I brought a bottle over to Julie’s as a celebration for her engagement!

Almond Champagne: As odd as this wine sounds, this nutty champagne has almost a cult following for its distinct flavor.  I originally heard about almond champagne from some friends who ranted about it after wine tasting in Temecula at Wilson Creek.  I decided I had to try it for myself and found that Jan Kris for Veris Cellars in Paso Robles produces a similar styled champagne.  Almond champagne is very sweet – you would probably want to enjoy this for a celebratory toast or after dinner with dessert – and has a light, almond taste.  I generally like drier wines, but I definitely went out of my way during my recent trip to Paso Robles to buy a few bottles of this!

Almond Champagne from Wilson Creek

Riesling: This refreshing wine is known for its distinct floral aroma and combination of sweetness and acidity.  This cool climate grape has high levels of residual sugar (the amount of sugar left over after the wine has gone through fermentation) which gives the wine a sweet flavor, but it also has a high acid content, creating a light, energizing flavor.  Rieslings can be sweet, dry or a mix of the two.  I recently took a trip to Napa and tried the Riesling at Chateau Montelana, the winery showcased in the movie Bottle Shock which retells the story of how wine from a little-known winery in Napa beat out the prestigious French wines at a blind tasting in 1976 and put Napa on the map as a reputable wine region.  Besides a beautiful tasting room and a gorgeous pond complete with white swans and a gazebo, the wines at Chateau Montelena were outstanding (although, I was a little disappointed not to see the handsome Chris Pine pouring my wine, as I had imagined after seeing Bottle Shock).  Chateau Montelena’s Riesling is on the sweeter side and the tasting notes describe “rich flavors of honey, apricot and tropical passion fruit” – a great pair to spicy Thai food or even lighter brunch fare.   

Chateau Montelena

2009 Justin Chardonnay: I may be a bit biased about any wine from Justin (I'm a wine club member), but I really enjoyed the 2009 Chardonnay on my most recent trip to Justin.  I generally like my Chardonnays rich with the typical Chardonnay characteristics – vanilla, butter, green apple, oaky – and while this chard has all my favorite chardonnay expressions, it spent time in a stainless steel vat as well as oak barrels so it has a lighter, crisper taste that even Julie would appreciate.  If you are looking at your local grocery store, Trader Joe’s or BevMo for a lighter chardonnay, pick a wine from California’s Central Coast and Monterey areas or look for wines stored in stainless steel rather than oak barrels.  Chardonnay is very versatile and can be paired with lots of different types of food, but when I think of a good summer meal to pair with my crisp Chardonnay, I think of a spinach salad with salmon and mango salsa on top (Trader Joe’s has a great ready-made mango salsa). 

Justin Vineyards

Thank you so much to Julie for letting me guest post!  I would love to hear what some of your favorite summer wines are!


Hannah {Culture Connoisseur} said...

Almond champagne??!! I have got to get my hands on this! I'm not a huge fan of wines, but when I do drink then I like ones with unusual and "complex" flavor.

I'm so snooty! ;)

Brittany H. said...

I also recently discovered almond champagne. Isn't it awesome??

You Are My Favorite

Leslie *Fresh Out of Lemons* said...

Great picks! I'm a big fan of sweet wines; riesling is always my go-to! Prosecco is also delightful. :)

Christianna said...

I'm not much of a wine drinker. But I grew up around (within walking distance) of a few of the wineries (Jan Kris) mentioned in this post! And still reside in the area.

Sarah, did you go to Sculpterra winery? They have an awesome sculpture garden, it's beautiful, and my pal makes the wine!

Amber Blue Bird said...

Congrats on the marathon! The Almond Champagne sounds interesting, I definitely want to try it out.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is amazing! Love it!♥

Laura said...

Wow! Such an interesting post!! Got to follow you!
Greetings from Rome!

Mo Pie, Please said...

I never knew almond champagne existed! Thanks for the lessons/information!

la petite coquine said...

What great advice! I'm a big rosé fan as the weather gets warmer, but I must confess, no matter how long I love in Northern California, I just can't get into those oaked chardonnays! John and my mom, on the other hand, are happy to polish off a bottle without my help!

Natasha said...

Great post! I've never heard of almond champagne, sounds interesting. My favourite Reisling is from Jackson Triggs from the Canadian Niagara region. I'm partial to the sweeter Reislings. I've tried the Justin Syrah but i'll have to try the Chardonnay!
Congrats on the marathon!

Haley @ Cardigan Junkie said...

I am a reisling addict and I approve of this post. :)

natasha {schue love} said...

I went to school in SLO, so very familiar with Paso wines! Especially love Justin and their chard (and cab AND merritage!}. So nice to meet a fellow lover of wine!

sarahbear said...

Thanks for all the thoughts and comments on wine! Christianna: I haven't been to Sculpterra but it is definitely now on my list for my next visit to Paso - thanks for the tip! La Petite Coquine: The oaked Chardonnays are definitely an acquired taste. Natasha: I will have to try the Riesling from Jackson Triggs now! Thanks for the suggestion. I also love the Justin Syrah and if you like big, bold reds, I also recommend the Justification or Isosceles from Justin. Natasha: I also went to school in SLO - Cal Poly. I miss the area so much and try to visit the SLO/Paso area whenever I can!

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