It’s probably better to be safe than “out there” in just about every aspect of our lives today-like it or not. Even what kind of wine to serve with what foods; it’s like wearing white after Labor Day- some people wouldn’t be caught dead in it, while others aren’t so constricted. To those who feel obligated to serve nothing but white after Memorial Day or reds only from Labor Day on, I say, “Resist!”.
You have nothing to lose but your limited food options. Maybe we have to be afraid of what we say, but that doesn’t mean we have to be afraid of what we drink!
Go bold or don’t go out to the grille! Lapostolle 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Cuvee Alexandre, Apalta Vineyard, Colchagua Valley, Chile, ($19.95), is made by the family that owns Grand Marnier and their ability to put real body and taste in a wine shows here. The Apalta Vineyard is the gem of the Lapostolle estate in Chile’s Colchagua Valley. It’s where they source the fruit for one of Chile’s greatest wines, Clos Apalta. The Cuvee Alexandre Cabernet is also sourced from this extraordinary vineyard. Surrounded on three sides by hills and a river on the fourth side it has its own unique micro-climate. Planted back in 1920 it also has deeply rooted grapevines averaging 60 years old. The Cabernet grapes for this wine comes from an old block of Cabernet planted in 1920 with high density that provides low yields of less than 2 tons per acre and grapes with deep complex flavors. It’s also certified organic and biodynamic. This one is probably the best value red you’ll serve all summer.
I want to recommend another Chenin Blanc wine here because it continues to grow in variety and quality and because it’s a great supplement to both Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. With an important wine renaissance in full swing, impressive red and white bargains abound in South Africa. The country has a particularly long and rich history with winemaking, especially considering its status as part of the “New World.” Ernie Els Big Easy Chenin Blanc 2016, Stellenbosch, South Africa, ($17.99), is emblematic of today’s South African wines and like friend Greg Norman, Els loves wine almost as much as he loves golf. In 1999, Els chose the Stellenbosch, South Africa’s most storied wine region, to produce his wines and brought on the award-winning Louis Strydom to oversee winemaking. In 2000, the first grapes were crushed for the inaugural vintage of Ernie Els Signature Wines. This white is refreshing and balanced, with notes of melons and mango and a pleasant finish. Great with an array of foods or just by itself.
Beringer Luminus Chardonnay 2016, Oak Knoll District, Napa, California, ($37.99), is spectacular. The lovely citrus in the Beringer Luminus Chardonnay is perfect for a fluke crudo drizzled with fresh lime juice and flaky sea salt. Follow that with salmon cakes with a mango salsa and you’ve got yourself a winning combination. The pert acidity of this Napa Chardonnay will go nicely opposite a pasta primavera dish with a light cream sauce too. For a casual dinner or lunch, make it chicken salad with toasted macadamias on a bed of Boston lettuce. Or, get your spicy on with a big platter of chicken makhani; it’s mild and buttery and just right for this Luminus.
Got some ribs or salmon that are headed for the grille? Well, make sure you you’ve got a couple of bottles of Lazy Creek 2015 Pinot Noir, Lazy Day, Anderson Valley, California, ($19.95).Anderson Valley in Mendocino County has warm, sunny days and cool, foggy mornings and nights creating the ideal microclimate for producing this wine. This sustainably-farmed, medium-bodied Pinot Noir has attractive aromas of bright red fruits, plum, berries and a hint of licorice, followed by flavors of juicy cherry with notes of cola, spice and toast on the finish.
Don’t let anyone tell you what’s “okay” to drink; tell them quality, value and flexibility don’t have a calendar.
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