Schrader on wine: Summer’s hot whites, cool reds
Caroline Schrader Wine Consultant August 1, 2012 1:54PM
Caroline Schrader is the wine columnist for the SouthtownStar newspaper Food section. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 3, 2012 1:14PM
So far, the summer has been anything but light and breezy. The higher temperatures have us racing out of the sun to find refuge in shade and air conditioning. This heat isn’t bad news for everyone, though. Growers across the country, particularly in areas experiencing high temperatures, say great wines are in the forecast for the 2012 vintage.
Weather plays a major role in the characteristics of each vintage year after year. Frost and heavy rain in the spring can delay bud break and grape development, while cooler temperatures in the summer and fall can prolong fruit ripening and postpone harvest. Grapevines thrive in environments where long, warm and frost-free periods allow them to develop. In general, warmer temperatures tend to accelerate the ripening process in the vineyards, and produce grapes that pack bolder flavors and more sugar, resulting in wines with more alcohol.
We’re used to hearing that certain vintages — the year the grapes are harvested and turned into wine — are more desirable than others to drink. Cool and wet weather on the West Coast in recent years have left producers uttering, “There’s always next year.” But many wine producing areas around the country have been experiencing mild temperatures this summer, so we’re in store for bold wines with complex flavors for the 2012 vintage. As we Midwesterners know, the weather can turn at any minute, so anything is possible until the last grape is picked.
While the grapes bask in the sun, keep cool during the dog days of summer with the wines below. Any of these selections can be found locally, and will undoubtedly make the hot and steamy days of summer more enjoyable.
2007 Domaine Carneros Taittinger Brut, $23.99
No summer is complete without bubbles. This sparkling wine presents lemon fresh aromas with a plethora of green apple, pear, and melon flavors. Drink this well-balanced wine well chilled and you’re sure to enjoy the hottest temperatures the summer has to offer.
2011 Yarden Sauvignon Blanc, $14.99
Produced in the Galilee appellation of Israel, this Sauvignon Blanc packs crisp green apple and citrus flavors. Spending very little time in French oak barrels, the modest hint of vanilla lends to the complexity and long finish of the wine. Sip this wine alongside a tomato mozzarella salad with fresh basil.
2009 Zaca Mesa Viognier, $16.99
Viognier’s classic flavors of honey dew, peach and floral are showcased in this wine. The taste of vanilla and butterscotch draw out the finish and add energy to this light and crisp wine.
2009 Elk Cove Pinot Noir, $23.99
Straight from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, this light bodied pinot is the perfect red for summer drinking. Combining juicy flavors of black fruit and plum, this zesty wine pairs perfectly with your favorite backyard barbecue dish.
2009 Domain Roche Côtes du Rhone Cairanne, $22.99
This full bodied Grenache Blend is sure to tend to the palettes of hearty red wine drinkers during the warmest days of summer. With abundant flavors of raspberry and black cheery, this wine has mild hints of pepper and earth notes.
Cooper’s Hawk Rhubarb Fruit Wine, $12.99
The South Side’s very own Cooper’s Hawk’s Rhubarb Wine is sure to tame any wine lover’s sweet tooth with this tart and refreshing sipper. Drink well chilled with a summer salad of corn and asparagus, or enjoy as an after dinner dessert in a glass.
Caroline is a wine writer and wine consultant serving the Chicago area.
Follow her on Facebook and visit www.carolineschrader.com.