Since it has been one of the most scorching summers in recent memory, I thought I would focus on some roses and white wines that are served chilled. However, for my die hard red fans, there are still a couple here for you to enjoy with the BBQ.
Whites and roses can be dry and have good acidity (not to mention that serving them cold makes them appealing in summer). So, what does this mean? Dry means low residual sugar in the wine, which makes it a good food companion. Acidity is the element in wine that tends to make you salivate when you taste it. Good acidity makes wine refreshing and good with food; it’s the same reason we like lemonade so much when it’s hot. These two characteristics allow good, well made roses and whites to be paired with a variety of foods that usually would make you reach for a red. For instance, typical Provencal dishes contain garlic, tomatoes, black olives, and spices like rosemary, thyme, and basil. In Southern France, the typical pairing would be a dry rose with great acidity. It works beautifully.
Don’t just take my word for it; try some of the following that fit my earlier description. They will make your summer even better! As customary, my ratings are based on a 5 star system developed by the British wine critic, Michael Broadbent: 5 stars: Outstanding; 4 stars: Very good; 3 stars: Good; 2 stars: Moderately good; 1 star: Not very good, but not bad; No stars: Poor.
Muralhas de Moncao Vinho Verde 2016 ★★★★ $15.95 (Vintages) A refreshing white wine from Portugal. Expect pears, stone fruit, and some terrific lemony acidity to finish. Try it with seafood, but it’s just plain great as an aperitif.
Cave Spring Pinot Gris 2016 ★★★½ $16.95 (LCBO) A hot summer night calls for a refreshing, aromatic white wine and this Niagara offering fits the bill. Expect yellow plums, citrus, and a little pear with some grassy, herbal underpinnings. Just sip it on the patio or pair it with some summer salads.
La Chevaliere Viognier 2016 ★★★ $13.05 (LCBO) Viognier’s home is in France’s Northern Rhone, but this is from further south in the Pays D’Oc. It still has some of the grape’s typical spice, apricot fruit, and just a touch of honey, but a little less body than in its more northern French incarnation. It’s a great wine pairing for spicy BBQ chicken.
Mas des Bressades Cuvee Tradition 2017 ★★★½+ $17.95 (Vintages) If you like whites from the south of France, you’ll like this blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussane, Marsanne, and Viognier. The Viognier gives it tremendous floral aromatic lift. Expect a full bodied wine with apricot, lychee, citrus, and some honey flavours. Good with salads or even with smoky charcuterie when it’s too hot for a red.
The Pavillion Chenin Blanc 2017 ★★★ $11.35 (LCBO) Chenin Blanc has its roots in the Loire Valley in France, but it has made a home in South Africa as well. This South African version is not overly complex, but makes a great patio sipper with good acidity, nice minerals, peaches, and citrus.
Pierre Sparr Brut Rose 2017 ★★★ $19.95 (Vintages) Made in the traditional style, this is a good Pinot Noir based French sparkler for an aperitif or with appetizers. Nice strawberry and red fruit flavours here.
Flat Rock Pink Twisted 2017 ★★★ $17.95 (Vintages) Deeply pink coloured, this Niagara rose is a summer pleasure. It’s medium bodied with sour red cherries, strawberries, apple, and a little rhubarb herbal follow-up. Nicely matches with garlicky hummus and multigrain ciabatta.
Chateau La Tour de L’Eveque Rose 2017 ★★★★½ $20.95 (Vintages) This rose reminds me of my first trip to Provence, sitting in the village of Biot. This dry pale salmon pink wine dances with watermelon, herbs, and just a hint of strawberry. It would be remarkably good with vegetarian pizza or some grilled spinach and feta chicken sausage.
MiMi en Provence Rose Reserve 2017 ★★★½ $20.95 (Vintages) Typical Provencal styling in this wine with watermelon, sweet ripe red cherry, herbs, and minerals. It would work well with some grilled fish adorned with some garlic, black olives, and tomatoes.
Conde de Valdemar Rioja Crianza 2012 ★★★★ $16.95 (Vintages) It’s medium bodied with a black cherry, raspberry, cola, and coconut melange. BBQ pork with a little jerk seasoning would work well with this Spanish red since it has more than enough fruit to match the spice.
Dandelion Vineyards Lioness of McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 ★★★★½ $21.95 (Vintages) This is a dark purple, ripe, aromatic, full bodied Australian red has some coconut and nutmeg-allspice at the forefront. Then oodles of dark plums and berries follow through. Great with some intensely flavoured Wagyu beef off the BBQ.
Sophia’s Lemoncella ★★★★ $23.05 (LCBO) I don’t usually review liqueurs, but I’ll make an exception for this one made with Sicilian lemons. It takes me back to a trip to Sicily where one of the locals told me this was the perfect digestif in hot weather and he was right. Serve it ice cold and then enjoy the intense sweet lemon, lemon peel, and lemon oil flavours.