Summer Wines Redux

Post date: Jul 19, 2010 5:42:00 PM

Our hosts, David Brown and Kathy Kennedy-Brown excelled in providing a gracious and welcoming atmosphere for our Summer Wines tasting. Thanks again to all of you that invited old and new friends to the event.

Of the two Sangria's we tasted, the winner was the Peach Sangria. How do I know? Well, there was no Peach Sangria left and everyone was asking Peggy for her recipe. This is Peggy's adaptation of author Sheila Lukins, (The Silver Palate Cookbook etc.) original.

8 peeled, diced ripe white or golden peaches

4 cups diced ripe cantaloupe

2 cups diced ripe strawberries

2 bottles, Alamos Torrontes (an Argentinian dry white wine)

1/4 cup Cointreau or Triple Sec liqueur ( OK so, maybe a 1/2 cup actually tastes better.)

4 cups Fresca

It is really important to macerate the fruit and wine for two hours to allow the flavors to meld. We did this at room temperature early in the day and then put it into the refrigerator to chill. We added the soda just before serving.

The other wine that our guests really enjoyed was the "Erik's The Red" proprietary blend from Toad's Hollow Vineyard in Sonoma County. This wine is predominantly Syrah and Zinfandel with 15 other grape varieties. We became hooked on this wine when we met the winemaker's son, Erik, at Toads Hollow's tasting room in Healdsburg. He gave us some fascinating insights into his family's approach to wine making. This is a very versatile wine that goes with just about everything coming off the Bar B Que. I really enjoy this with a good steak. The retail price on this wine is around $12-$14 and is available at West Concord, Acton Wine & Spirit, Colonial Liquors and New Hampshire Liquor Commission stores.

The other two red wines, Cline Syrah 2007 and Conquista Malbec 2008 were excellent as well. The Cline Syrah is their Sonoma County bottling and is a much better value than their single vineyard syrah. We've tasted their Carneros Syrah and loved it, but $35 per bottle was a huge premium. I'm becoming a big fan of California Syrah which tends to be more nuanced than its Australian Shiraz counterpart. This bottle runs around $17 although we have found it on sale for as little as $12.

Have you ever had a bottle of bad Malbec? Conquista is a very consistent producer of high quality Malbec and the '08 vintage was very good. This wine normally retails for $12 - $14 per bottle. Both of these wines are available at West Concord, Acton Wine & Spirit, Colonial Liquors and New Hampshire Liquor Commission stores.

The white wines received a mixed review. The Burgans Albarino 2008 was the first time many of our guests tasted this grape type. Compared with a typical white Rioja, this wine delivered a much richer bouquet of apricot and peach. It has enough acidity to balance the fruit. The wine sparkled on the tongue balancing its medium body, fruit forward taste. The wine is imported by Eric Solomon who seems to be able to pick so many winners from Spain and the south of France. I remember paying about $16 - $18 dollars for this at Acton Wine and Spirits.

We had really mixed feelings about our two Chenin Blancs. Francois Chidaine's Le Bouchet Vouvray 2006 took people by surprise because of the level of residual sugar. It was the most expensive wine of the evening at $28 per bottle but didn't impress the way I anticipated. The Raats Chenin Blanc 2008 from the Paal region of South Africa was more to everyone's liking. It had a crisp finish and enough acid to give it an almost tart finish. These are the two areas of the world best known for Chenin Blanc and have completely different styles.