Finding the Perfect Summer Wines

anthony-beckman-courtesy-balletto-vineyards-1

Shopping for the perfect wine to accompany a summer feast can become an arduous task. Anthony Beckman, winemaker at Balletto Vineyards located in the Russian River Valley AVA in Sonoma County, put together the following four tips for wine shopping.

Develop a Relationship: Wine shop employees are excited to help people discover new wines, so take advantage of their knowledge. Find a favorite local shop and develop relationships with the people working there. Ask them plenty of questions and learn as much as you can.

Shop by Region: If your favorite winery isn’t in stock at the store, use the opportunity to explore other producers from the same region. For example, if you love Pinot Noir, look for bottles from the renowned Russian River Valley AVA in Sonoma County.

Leave Your Comfort Zone: Be adventurous. Try a new grape variety or region that you’ve never heard of before. You may just stumble upon a new favorite.

Buy by The Case: Many retailers will offer discounts when you buy wine by the case (12 bottles). This is especially helpful when planning a party or stocking up on a house wine. Discounts can range from 10% – 20%, and retailers will often allow you to mix and match.

For Your Cellar:

Villa Gemma Masciarelli Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo – rosé made with 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzograpes, the appellation “Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo”is the newest DOC of Abruzzo. A wonderful wine to celebrate the summer season, this rose displaysthe unique characters of its native varietal with fresh aromas of pomegranate,thyme and walnuts, and a clean, balanced palate with subtle tannins.

Mirabeau Classic 2015 – The 2015 Classic is a blend of Syrah and Grenache and is slightly paler in color than the previous year, but still the generous fruit leaps from the glass. The violet pink hues reflect the vibrant red fruit aromas of the wine. Delicious strawberries remain the essence of Mirabeau Classic, alongside a beguiling hint of pomegranate and red cherry that provide a sophisticated counterpoint. Pulling it all together is a refreshing acidity and a sumptuous, lingering finish. The freshness and beautiful concentration of fruit makes it perfect as an aperitif or food pairing with an array of cuisines.

Mirabeau Pure 2015 – Known for its delicate, super-pale pink color, Pure uses a blend of Grenache and Syrah and is all about concentration, structure and finesse. It has a distinctive “minerality” at its core that has become its hallmark. The mineral spine complemented by elegant fruit aromas of raspberry, white cherry and a hint of cranberry, all of which create an elegant and balanced wine.

The Cardinal Rule Wines Rosé – A wine by the boutique Sonoma winery that changes every year.  For example, the 2014 was 100% Malbec, while the 2013 was primarily Petit Verdot.  The small production but high demand means that this is a summer tradition that’s not to miss.

2015 JUSTIN Sauvignon Blanc –A bright and lively Sauvignon Blanc. Easily a favorite for spring and summer menus.

2014 Landmark Vineyards “Overlook” Chardonnay – An elegant and balanced Chardonnay sourced from some of the best vineyards in Sonoma County. Perfect for taking occasions up a notch, like Mother’s Day brunch or a gourmet summer picnic.

2015 Balletto Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir – This fun and friendly wine has flavors of bright cherry, strawberry and lime combined with perfect acidity, minerality and a delicate texture. A perfect wine for a sunny day on the patio. The Balletto Rosé is made exclusively from Pinot Noir.

2014 Hahn SLH Pinot Noir – A rich yet elegant Pinot Noir from an emerging region. This wine, in particular, was just on the cover of Wine Spectator, and earned 92 points.

2013 JUSTIN Cabernet Sauvignon – Classic cabernet with blackcurrant and cherry fruit and savory herbal notes, along with beautifully balanced tannins. It would be hard to find a better go-to red wine to go with a wide range of red wine leaning foods like steak, lasagna or a wood fired pizza.

2014 Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon – A bouquet bursting with notes of dark fruit and hints of spice leads into a structured palate of bright plum, boysenberry, and cherry. The initial fruitiness is complemented by alluring notes of vanilla cream and rich cacao. Expansive flavors and balanced tannins carry through to the smooth, lavish finish.

Josh Cellars Chardonnay – Features aromas of tropical fruit and citrus, married beautifully with harmonious notes of oak. A delightful harmony of bright yellow and white stone fruit lingers on the palate and finishes with fresh and clean acidity.

Josh Cellar’s Pinot Noir – Aromas of cherry and strawberry on the nose with layers of spicy oak are captured in Josh Cellars’ Pinot Noir.  On the palate, the wine is plush and subtle yet has a firm texture. Dark cherry and chocolate flavors fill the mouth with a rich intensity and lingering finish.

Josh Cellars Cabernet – An approachable blend with aromas of rich, dark fruit and baking spices on the nose yielding to fresh plum, blackberry, violet, dried fig, vanilla bean and Chinese five-spice. The wine is juicy with plum and blackberry flavors, prominently layered with smoky and sappy maple oak, roasted almonds and hazelnuts. This wine finishes long with fine, firm tannins and pairs well with grilled meats.

Trinchero Napa Valley 2014 Mary’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc – Taste the tropics anywhere while enjoying the 2014 Trinchero Napa Valley Mary’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. This unmistakable wine delivers complexity within its taste, and perfectly refreshing.

Trinchero Napa Valley Mario’s Cabernet Sauvignon – Named in honor of founder Mario Trinchero, the grapes for this superb Cabernet Sauvignon come from Trinchero Napa Valley’s 13-acre sustainably farmed vineyard and produces elegant wine with outstanding rose petal and lavender aromas, bright red fruit flavors and a supple texture.

Martin Ray Winery’s 2015 Russian River Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir –  A complex and fruity vintage, Martin Ray Winery’s 2015 Rosé blossoms with a complex and fruit-driven bouquet featuring high tone tropical and citrus notes such as blood orange, kiwi, passion fruit and coconut, coupled with more delicate aromas of watermelon and orange crème.

2015 “Centennial” Chardonnay – Lemon peel and stone fruit aromas lead this wine, balanced nicely by a strong acid and smooth mouthfeel.  Delicate oak influence rounds out this wine, enhancing notes of caramel and vanilla on the palate.

2015 “615” Sauvignon Blanc – Flavors of fresh cut grass, apricot and tart nectarine parallel the vivid acidity and light mouthfeel of this wine. Strongly aromatic and floral, this Sauvignon blanc is refreshing and a beautiful wine both on its own, and as a complement to your meal.

2015 “MelRosé” Rosé of Pinot Noir – Crisp and refreshing, this fruit driven Rosé gets its beautiful tint from Pinot noir grown in the rich soils of Santa Barbara and Mendocino Counties. Strawberry, Cherry and floral aromatics compliment the bright acidity and elegant mouthfeel, best served slightly chilled on a warm day.

Pizzolato Pinot Grigio –100% Pinot Grigio grapes, VENETO IGT. Produced by a 5th-generation winemaker Settimo Pizzolato in the Veneto region of Italy. “Offers floral aromas of white spring flowers along with creamy green apple and citrus notes. It has crisp, clean finish…Sip as an aperitif or pair with lightly seasoned fish dishes. – Kerin O’Keefe, Wine Enthusiast

Biokult Gruner Veltliner – 100% Gruner Veltliner, Niederösterreich – Qualitätswein Appellation of Austria. Demeter certified Biodynamic wine produced by the Michlicht’s family, Austria’s preeminent Biodynamic winemakers. Aromas of lemon, lime and white pepper with a very crisp, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a long, tart nectarine skin and grassy earth finish.

Les Hauts de Lagarde Bordeaux Blanc – 60% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon, AOC Bordeaux, France. “Clean crisp flavors and feel the verticality even on the nose. Love the mouth-watering aspect here, this is high acidity, but for me it is well matched by minerality and clean bracing citrus and honeydew. Lovely, with good structure”. – Decanter Magazine

Tarantas Sparkling Rose – Made with 100% Spanish Bobal, produced near Valencia, Spain.. Dried strawberry notes in the nose and red currants in the mouth. The finish is soft, not sweet, and the gentle character of the wine belies its ability to handle stronger flavors, even grilled fish and chicken. Drink soon.  – Wines from Spain.com 

Koyle Costa Sauvignon Blanc 2012: Weighty, but lithe and balanced with a lot in reserve, this has a piercing minerality that leads the way for floral, powered ginger, lemon verbena, salted butter, and thyme notes. Very long and precise on the finish, this beautiful wine transcends the 2012 vintage.

Rothchild Dom Barons Sauvignon Blanc Los Vascos 2015: This wine has remarkable aromatic expression in the bouquet with lemon, grapefruit, and exotic fruit enhanced by the characteristic boxwood aroma of the Sauvignon.

Santa Margherita’s Pinot Grigio Alto Adige – A dry white – a wine of great personality and versatility. Chianti Classico Riservais an intriguing red, absorbing an array of earthly wide-ranging aromatics. Prosecco Superioreis a sparkling wine and the perfect base for a variety of bubbly cocktails.

Head High Wines produces a 2015 North Coast Rosé that was inspired by the perfect surf and meant to be enjoyed on a warm summer evening. Made under the helm of winemaker/surfer Sam Spencer, Head High derives its name from the surfing term that refers to waves that match the height of the rider and for every 2 bottles sold, Head High donates $1.00 to Sustainable Surf and Sonoma Valley Education Foundation.

2013 Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay – Known for making classic appellation driven wines from the Napa Valley, this wine is a crowd pleaser: a bright, classic Chardonnay, and perfect for summer BBQs.

2012 Martinelli Bella Vigna Chardonnay – A blend from the family’s Russian River Valley estates, which has a reputation for being one of the finest Chardonnays in the Sonoma Coast, highly regarded by collectors and critics alike.

2012 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir – The ideal summer red due to its lighter body, soft and bright character and fruitier notes.

Masi’s 2014 Masianco – A unique white wine, made up of 70% Pinot Grigio and 30% Verduzzo, both of which are handled completely separately before meeting in the bottle for the first time. The twist off cap makes this food-friendly wine perfect for summer drinking!

Bisol Jeio Prosecco Brut– The color is a light straw yellow. The nose is fruity and fresh The taste is sapid and elegant. Due to the “brut” personality, this wines makes an ideal accompaniment for the entire complement of cocktail sandwiches and elaborate canapes. Excellent for reception and cocktails parties.

Prosecco La Gioiosa Etamarosa NV DOC Treviso – La Gioiosa is one of Italy’s leading producers of Prosecco, and takes its name from an ancient local motto ‘Marca gioiosa et amorosa’, meaning ‘Joyous and amorous March’, The March of Treviso being an antiquated name for the province in which this wine is made. Pale straw yellow with a fine and persistent mousse.

Breathless Brut Rosé – A blend of Carneros Pinot Noir and North Coast Chardonnay, the Brut Rosé has a creamy mousse and round mouth. Indulge in Strawberry, cream and spice. The finish is crisp with bright fresh fruit. Aged 18 months.

Rack & Riddle Blanc de Blancs – Beautiful green apple and tropical notes in the aroma follows through in the mouth with a smooth fine mousse. This wine finishes with lingering light tropical flavors. 53% Chardonnay, 39% Sauvignon Blanc, 8% French Colombard.

Mullan Road Cellars’ Red Wine Blend – Only on its second vintage and consistently receiving high marks, this Bordeaux-style blend is the ultimate grilling wine: it’s extremely well-balanced and has notes of ripe berry fruit and licorice, with a hint of smoke and resin, and has a long, elegant finish. Talk about paying tribute to American history!

Alexandria Nicole Cellars – a Squared Pinot Gris- Our carefully hand selected and hand harvested Pinot Gris was gently whole cluster pressed, and displays lush tropical aromas of starfruit, Honeycrisp apple, Anjou pear, kiwi and lavender. Such luscious floral notes are accentuated with a silky texture that is juicy and bright on the palate, and finishes with a hint of sweetness, complemented by a touch of spice and minerality.

Rothchild Dom Barons Sauvignon Blanc Los Vascos 2015: This wine has remarkable aromatic expression in the bouquet with lemon, grapefruit, and exotic fruit enhanced by the characteristic boxwood aroma of the Sauvignon.

14 Hands 2014 Stampede Red Blend – This robust red blend kicks things off with aromas of spice and cedar, leading to flavors of cola and cherry. A lighter oak regimen shows off the wine’s unique characteristics, including lively acidity and a dramatic enduring finish.

14 Hands 2013 Hot to Trot White Blend – This vibrant white blend sports apple, pear and melon aromas complemented by citrus and floral notes. Ripe white fruit flavors are repeated on the palate, joined by hints of sweet lemon and balanced by crisp acidity, ending with a juicy finish.

Airfield Estates 2014 Viognier – Aged in 10% neutral French oak and 90% stainless steel.  Great acidity meets a luscious body with layers of Asian pear and Granny Smith apple.

Anelare Winery 2015 Ciel Du Cheval Cuvee – This exotic blend of both Viognier and Roussanne from Red Mountain AVA brings in tropical mango and tangerine aromas with a touch of apricot and papaya.  The cleansing acid structure adds buoyancy to well-extracted peach, orange and rock candy flavors.  This wine may be shipped direct to consumer.

Frichette Winery 2014 Semillon – We make only one white wine and it is summer in a bottle with aromas of crisp pear, green apple, and a hint of powdered sugar. Great acidity on the palate with green apple and hint of lemon on the finish.

Mercer Estates 2014 Sauvignon Blanc – This Sauvignon Blanc is bursting with aromas of grapefruit, lychee, passion fruit and boxwood. Capturing the fruit at its peak ripeness has resulted in a wine with both bold fruit and racy, mouth-watering acidity.

Milbrandt Vineyards 2014 The Estates Viognier – The 2014 The Estates Viognier has aromas of orange blossom, wet stone, jasmine and white peach. It has a round and soft generous mid-palate with a bright acidity and finishes clean.

2014 Traditions Chardonnay – The 2014 Traditions Chardonnay has aromas of warm vanilla, a hint of toast, ripe pear, creme brulee and Honeycrisp Apple. On the palate it has a ripe, fruit-driven mid-palate with a bright acidity and clean finish.

2014 Traditions Pinot Gris – The 2014 Pinot Gris is crisp with flavors of cantaloupe, wet stone and lemon zest. The palate has a bright lively acidity, with a crisp round mid-palate, followed by a clean finish.

2014 Riesling – Our Traditions Riesling is made in a refreshing, off-dry style with aromas and flavors of sweet Elberta peach, ripe Granny Smith apple and zesty Key lime.

Pictured: Anthony Beckman, winemaker at Balletto Vineyards