Bacchic Reflections
 
"I hear the clink of bottles being carried to the well from which they will be pulled up, cooled, for dinner tonight. One of them, red-currant pink, will accompany the green melon; the other, a sandgrown wine, amber-coloured and over-generous, goes with the salad of tomatoes, pimentos and onions soaked in oil, and with the ripe fruit."
                                                                              Colette
                                                                              La Naissance du Jour


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News:  NC winelovers will want to check the August issue of The Wine Spectator for a list of Carolina restaurants that won reconition for excellent wine lists, nearly 20 of them in the Triangle.
Look for it on in newsracks July 31st.
                                  
Great Summer Cocktail:  Basil Squeeze at Washington Duke Inn
While it would be best enjoyed on the delightful terrace at WaDu in Durham--with its comfortable blue lounge chairs and sofas and vistas of undulating green (cooling just to look at) -- you would also enjoy it at home using North Carolina's own sweet potato vodka:  Covington®
Anna Honeycutt, assistant manager at WaDu's Bull Durham Bar created this very refreshing cocktail:                                                              
                                

Basil Squeeze

 

1 ½ oz. Covington Sweet Potato Vodka

¾ oz. St.-Germain

3 basil leaves

Lemon wedge

1 oz. lemon juice

2 oz. club soda or San Pellegrino

 

Muddle lemon wedge and two basil leaves in a

Collins glass with vodka and St. Germain. Add

lemon juice, fill with ice and shake. Top with

more ice and club soda. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf.
Note:  I used lime instead of lemon, but both work great!
                                                
            
DRY  ROSÉS
My summer/fall wine stash is never without these!  So versatile with so many seasonal foods -- so fresh, lively, crisp and tasty.  My favorite--when it's made right--is dry rosé of pinot noir, and this one was a delightful surprise:  Spätburgunder Rosé 2013 von Buhl, $17-20. Pinot noir in Germany makes a good light red, but this dry rosé is exceptional! Find it by the glass at G2B in Durham.
Others to look for:
Domaine Houchart 2013, Provence   $13.99
Château de Campuget 2013, Rhône Valley  $12.99
Chinon Rosé 2013  Bernard Baudry    Loire Valley  $17-19
Domaine Fontsainte 'Gris de Gris 2013  Corbières  $14.99

Château de Trinquevedel 2013, Rhône Valley,  $18.95
Summer Bubbly
 I always have a bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine chilled and at the ready--just in case something nifty calls for it.
Cavicchioli 1928 Brut Spumante ** $14-15  Very dry and brisk, this sparkler makes an excellent Kir Royale--put a drop or two of cassis or framboise liqueur in a flute glass and top with the bubbly.  Refreshing!
Like Prosecco? Here's a delightful one to look for:
Cavicchioli  1928  Prosecco    Italy  $12.99**   Great value for this fresh and very lively sparkler--dry but with very nice pear/lychee flavors that make for a wonderful aperitif.  And no--1928 is not a typo, it's part of the name and the founding date of the company.
Pol Roger N/V Champagne  France***  $40-50   Classic! Superbly balanced, dry, elegant, with a hint of richness that makes it one of the more alluring non-vintage Champagnes. Worth a splurge.

 
Wine Buy(s) of the Week
Trione Chardonnay 2011  Russian River Valley** $19-22 
The  light touch of oak in this chardonnay lends grace and an extra dimension of flavor--hints of vanilla, spice and ripe pear make it a natural with filets of snapper, flounder, tilapia, monkfish, also shrimp or chicken breast in white wine sauce.
Macon La Roche Vineuse Château de la Greffière 2013 Burgundy  France $15-18**+    People who say they don't like Chardonnay just haven't had the good ones (granted, there are too many poor ones). This one is such pleasant sipping I'd suggest keeping a few bottles on hand--it makes a delightful aperitif  but its dry piquant flavors --  unoaked -- are also a nice match with seafoods, such as scallops, shrimp or mahi-mahi.

Uruguay.  I remember drinking wines from Uruguay years ago--they were cheap but drier than most American jug wines. Uruguayan  wines have come a long way since then, with upgraded vineyards and a wider variety of grapes, but they still offer excellent value. Bodega Garzón's young vineyards drape across hills dotted with palm trees, and produce bright, tasty wines. Here are a few to look for:  (see also red wines below):
Bodega Garzón Albariño 2013 **+  $15-17  Crisp and lively, with appealing floral scents, it's a natural for fish and seafood.  Garzón 2013 Sauvignon Blanc is drier, with citrus and grapefruit flavors, a good choice for shellfish

Don't forget Cider for summer sipping--
it's a great change of pace from beer and wine. Foggy Ridge First Fruits and Serious Cider are two of my favorites--both on the drier side so they work nicely with food--but wonderfully apple-y, which makes them terrific with Gouda and other semisoft cheeses.

Tomero 2012 Torrontes  Argentina  $15-17** 
Just off-dry, this lively white from the torrontes grape, has a freshness tinged with lemon-orange zest, making it quite a nice match with such summer fare as chicken salad (especially with green grapes), smoked turkey or ham; quite nice as an aperitif or afternoon sipper.

Dry Creek Dry Cheinin Blanc 2013, Clarksburg***  $12    Crisp and enticing, this Chenin is consistently outstanding and a terrific value. Versatile for all sorts of warm weather foods, from shellfish to chicken to smoked ham or turkey. Delightful aperitif, paired with goat cheese or a mild blue.

Columbia Crest 2013 H3 Sauvignon Blanc Washington**+ 
$13-15. A very young Sauvignon from east Washington's Horse Heaven Hills (H3). Give this one a chance--it's somewhat exotic, with lots of grassy notes, lime blossom, lime zest and  other intriguing herby flavors. It will work with food, but I liked it best just on its own as an aperitif, maybe with goat cheese bruschetta.

Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Dry Creek Valley ***$17-18  This one is flying off the shelves--due no doubt to that piquant and spicy addition of sauvignon musqué to the blend. Excellent with shellfish and pasta with asparagus or seafood.


  
Summer Reds --
Anton Bauer Cuvée 2012, Wagram  Austria   $16-17**+  
A juicy blended red that is great for summer grilling; an excellent match for the lighter meats (veal, pork, chicken) but an appealing richness suits beef as well as savory cheese dishes.  Anton Bauer 2012 Pinot Noir, $20, is also very good with nice Pinot intensity.
Beaujolais-Villages 2013, France **+  $11-15    The gamay grape makes perhaps the quintessential summer red: Beaujolais. Fruit-driven, with aromas and flavors of ripe summer berries, it is best served lightly cooled, which makes the fruit all the more appealing. Wines labeled Beaujolais or Beaujolais-Villages are the lightest of the region, so look for 2013s. Cru Beaujolais, named for the villages where they are grown (Brouilly, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon and others), are a cut above, and each has its own distinctions.
Joseph Drouhin Brouilly 2011*** is a charmer, very aromatic, appetizing berry fruit, perfect for grilled chicken, glorified burgers, smoked meats--as well as just for sipping on the deck--best lightly cooled.
Drouhin's Morgon 2011 is meatier, a worthy match with grilled chops (veal, pork, lamb) and savory cheeses. I recommend keeping several bottles of Beaujolais on hand for summer, at least a case.

Bodegas Garzón Tannat 2012  Uruguay**+  $15-18  Tannat produces a somewhat rustic, tannic red in southwest France; you may know it in wines like Madiran, often paired with cassoulet. In the New World, however, the fruit is juicier, still tannic but warmer and richer. It is grown not only in Uruguay but in the U.S. mid-Atlantic. An excellent choice for grilled steak or lamb, as well as aged mountain cheeses.

Gloria Ferrer Carneros Pinot Noir 2010   Carneros-Sonoma*** $22-27   Pinot Noir is one of my frequent picks for summer, partiuclarly the lighter ones that go so well with grilled salmon, smoked meats and numerous cheeses.  The Gloria Ferrer (an estate best known for very good sparkling wines) 2010 has signature fruit profile of Carneros:  cherries and berries, with the merest hint of tannin, nice balance, very chearming.
Estancia Pinot Noir 2012, Monterey   $16-17 **   The Estancia is one of the lighter ones, but still has the spicy fruit flavors that suit grilled salmon, smoked meats, roast ham and numerous cheeses. Good value.

Tomero Malbec 2012, Argentina  $13**  A smooth, juicy, full-bodied (but not heavy) Malbec; hand-picked grapes from highland vineyards above Mendoza. A very quaffable red--and great value. Tomero also makes a Cabernet Sauvignon, but it's somewhat angular at the moment and needs a few years in bottle; good value for the future drinking.

                                                        




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