With summer’s expiration date on Sept. 22, is it time to ditch those bright, light, delicious wines you enjoyed when fish were jumpin’ and cotton was high?
Short answer: no. There is no reason to forgo patio, pool and picnic pours now, or any time for that matter. In the first place, if you live in the southern half of the country, plenty of summer-like days remain — in Texas there will be summer-like days in winter. No need to eschew wines because of some silly equinox.
Summer is heating up and nothing quenches the wine thirst like a good rosé. It's basically a red wine (okay, pink from the limited contact with the grape skins) that acts like a white wine. It can display the flavor character of a red wine while it's chilled down like a white wine. It's versatile at the table as well: there are the lighter, delicate styles to the more muscular versions and terrific bubbly as well. Here are some that came across my desk recently that will be unpretentious and fun to slurp on the Fourth.
Rose' has become an overwhelming choice for summer sipping over the last few years. In California, with the temperate climate, we drink it year-round. But the fly-over country between the two coasts is finally catching on to how refreshing a delicious rose' can be. It would seem that the popularity of rose' has reached critical mass. I mean, you know that when Apothic, Kendall-Jackson, Menage a Trois, Noble Vines and Dark Horse jump on the rose' bandwagon, the bloom just might be off the rose, so to speak. I'm not saying any of these bottlings are bad; several of them are quite tasty. But in the great scheme of things, many of them are mass produced, marketed to appeal to a certain customer profile and price point.
Wouldn't you rather indulge yourself with a rose' from a Santa Barbara County producer who makes rose' in a style that the winemaker simply likes to drink? No corporate committees or targeted ads; just the best darn rose' that he or she can make every year. Here are some from this year's crop that I enjoyed.
Up on the 71st floor of the US Bank in Los Angeles, I enjoyed an informative luncheon at the elegant 71Above restaurant overlooking the city to the mountains and sea. At my table sat Michael Lewellen, the son of Royce Lewellen from Lucas & Lewellen Winery. Michael shared with me a little bit about himself and the history of his father’s winery with Louie Lucas.
We are at the beginning of what could be our earliest season yet. Little rain and warm weather have pushed the grapes early. Of course, now that they’re out about a foot, we are spending our nights watching for frost. Fortunately, each night has been borderline, but we did need to be there in case temperatures dropped near daybreak. We’re really just babysitters of the vineyard.
We have had a different kind of a winter with not much of anything in the way of frost, rain, or cold. Our vines look great. Our water supply so far is holding steady, and it looks like we’re going to have an early harvest.