Heat Wave Wines
Heat, heat, burning heat,
Melts the soles under my feet,
Look at this! It’s kinda neat:
I’m frying an egg on the street!
Looking for delicious ways
to temper, soothe and cool the blaze
and chill throughout this summertime?
Well, looky here folks, I have wine:
Rippon Mature Vine Riesling 2016, Central Otago, New Zealand
I’ve been waiting for this wine to arrive for a couple months, if it’s as good as the 2015 then this may be my unofficial Wine Of The Summer. The vineyards around Wanaka Lake enjoy a more temperate climate than the rest of the South Island’s Central Otago region, and the Mills family takes advantage of this extra heat by letting the 35+-year-old Riesling vines get a bit of extra hang-time – though not to the point of Botrytis. Organic and dry-farmed, the crushed grapes are left on their own lees (from indigenous yeasts) for over 3 months, adding more comforting texture than a shag-carpeted van filled with bunnies and hair-dryers. Green apple, honeysuckle and beeswax abound. The ever-so-eensy-weensy off-dry finish (hey, you deserve it) is tempered by a sobering streak of tartaric acid, striking the right balance between Disneyland and the Dewey Decimal System: it can keep for a decade and get a good education but it’s hella fun right now. 94 points Robert Parker, 3 cases available, $49.99 +tax
Chateau Le Puy Rose-Marie 2016, Bordeaux, France
A Rosé that isn't. Ever wonder why the Brits call Bordeaux “Claret”? I’m gonna tell you anyway: because it wasn’t this colour when they named it that. Back when the marriage of Henry Plantagenet and Eleanor of Aquitaine joined Bordeaux and England to form the Angevin Empire, the wines of Bordeaux weren’t red, they were a deep, electric pink, just like this rare offering from Chateau Le Puy’s winemaker/shaman/nut-bar Jean-Pierre Amoreau. The 13th Century English had never had a steady supply of good wine before, and they excitedly named this dark Rosé “Claret”, after the intense “éclair” of colour. Over subsequent centuries the wines reddened and darkened but the name stuck, even as the original Claret style passed into legend. But did it? Mr. Amoreau, already renowned for his pre-20th-century methods and style, makes this robust, floral, beautifully rustic throwback by running off Merlot juice during fermentation (saignée method, for those taking notes) and keeping it in old oak for almost a year. I’m loathe to use the term “natural wine”, but this wine fits the bill: no added sulphites, no pesticides, farmed by horse – to my knowledge the only electricity involved is in the bottling. I’ve even heard stories of Jean-Pierre running through his vineyards on a full moon to ward off evil spirits (I guess it worked, though, as this wine contains no evil spirits). Try the Claret that started it all (and serve at cellar temperature, not fridge-cold) 2 wooden cases available, No Evil Spirits, $78.49 +tax
Passopisciaro “Contrada P” 2015, Sicily, Italy
Need a summer fun buddy? Meet Nerello Macalese, an expressive, light-bodied grape that thinks you should totally break up with Pinot Noir because Nerello is prettier, more fun and will love you way more. It’s true, the wines are way friendlier and filled with a joie-de-vivre that the studious Pinot often lacks, but the catch is that you have to move to an active Volcano, because Nerello Mascalese is only grown on the slopes of Mt. Etna. This Cru (Contrada) called Porcaria (P) is widely considered to be the best vineyard on that slope: the thin layers of hardened lava crunch under your feet and the extra light reflected off the Mediterranean gives spunk and ripeness to the Nerello grapes, even at the sky-high altitude of 2100ft. Brilliant red fruits abound here, swirling with baking spices and quinine, the ripe 2015 vintage boosted the body and the powerful, time-bomb finish. This is Etna royalty, the Queen Of The Volcano, and I’m stoked that it’s finally available. 94 points Wine Spectator, 4 3-packs available, $118.99 +tax
Stay cool out there, folks, and Happy Drinking!