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Wines to savor all summer

Chateau de Jonquieres Rose and Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon
Chateau de Jonquieres Rose and Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon
Tracy Ellen Kamens

Summer is in full swing – Memorial Day is behind us and the Fourth of July is just around the corner. This season’s picnics and other outdoor activities call for the perfect wines with which to accompany these food fests. With the heat and humidity of the season, we want wines that are refreshing, generally lighter in style and (most often) served chilled. Accordingly, sparkling wines, whites, roses and lighter reds are all great choices.

Mouth-watering whites

Sure, Chardonnay has your back, but perhaps it’s time to get out of a rut. Instead, look for Frontera’s Specialties, namely the Pedro Jimenez 2013 from Chile ($8.00). The Pedro Jimenez grape variety is indigenous to South America and, while it most frequently finds its way into distillation vats for the production of Pisco, it is starting to be used for still wines. In this case, the grape has been blended with small amounts of Moscato and Sauvignon Blanc. The wine has nice peach and spice aromas, with ripe, tropical fruit on the palate, specifically melon and pineapple. Although the wine is dry, there is some slight residual sugar, which is nicely balanced by the acidity.

Delicato Family Vineyard’s new Belle Ambience line is attractively packaged and priced ($10.00). The Pinot Grigio 2013 from California is crisp, clean and a great option for a picnic with tangerine and almond notes and palate-cleansing acidity.

For a more upscale selection, Zilliken Forstmeister Geltz “Butterfly” Estate Riesling 2012 ($20.00) is a terrific option with floral and tropical fruit notes on the nose and an off-dry palate that is nicely offset by the vibrant acidity. This is very easy drinking, but also has a bit of complexity to it as well.

Similarly, the Steven Kent Winery “Lola” Sauvignon Blanc 2013 ($24.00) is another good choice. It displays its warmer climate origin from the Ghielmetti Vineyard in California’s Livermore Valley with aromas and flavors of melon, citrus and peach. But, despite its riper fruit, the acidity hasn’t been compromised, keeping the wine beautifully balanced.

I’m really Rosie

Roses –which I advocate for year-round drinking – are especially welcome at this time of year. Your local wine store should have quite a few in stock, many of them hailing from southern France. While I’ve recommended quite a few roses recently, the Macari Wine 2013 Rose from the North Fork of Long Island is a perennial favorite ($15.00). Produced from a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Pinot Noir, the wine offers up aromas of melon, wet grass and floral notes. The palate displays ripe strawberry and a slightly grassy character, which I enjoyed very much.

Illustrative of my earlier point, the Château de Jonquières Rose Cuvée Cersius 2013 ($24.00) hails from France’s Languedoc region and is comprised of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault. Floral, berries and melon greet the nose, while the palate shows pink grapefruit, strawberry and some minerality.

Refreshing reds

Also from Frontera’s Specialities line is its red Pais ($8.00), a variety thought to have initially come from Spain, but now only found in Chile. The wine has fresh red fruit aromas and flavors, coupled with slight spice. Compared to the Pedro Jimenez, the red has slightly less acid and slightly higher sugar, so it would be a great mate for sweet and tangy sauces, such as those used in barbecue. It’s also light enough that it could take a slight chill, adding to its refreshing quality on a hot day.

Although probably better known for its Zinfandel, Gnarly Head is a good go-to wine brand because all of their wines are generally well made and they come in a range of “flavors.” Among its current releases is its Pinot Noir 2012 from California ($10.00). With its dry palate, lovely acidity and flavors of cherry, spice and earth, this wine provides great value in Pinot Noir.

If its burgers on the grill, you might prefer to reach for the Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, also from California ($10.00), with ripe black fruit, vanilla, oak and soft tannins.