Summer is here at last! Blue skies, warm sunshine -a bit humid? …… we can put up with that as there’s no need for an umbrella or a coat as there was in June. At last we can sit out in the garden and enjoy a glass of wine whilst the BBQ is heating up and then enjoy our culinary delights outside too. It’s thus time to find the ideal light white, fragrant rose or light red to complement the chargrilled chops.
I set myself a challenge to find wines in various categories such as aperitifs, light whites etc that I like or wanted to try with a budget maximum of £10. The list of aperitifs included old favourites such as the Italian Gavi and Orvieto, a tangy, zesty New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a French Viognier from the South of France such as that from Mont Rocher.
There are lots of new wines too such as Caparrone Pecorino from the Caparrone region of Abruzzo in central Italy more often associated with wines made from the Montepulciano grape. This wine is delicately with light citrus aromas and light fresh peach notes so ideal to enjoy before a meal and by accident a friend and I discovered that it is also great with many cheeses though not a strong cheddar or blue! The increasingly trendy Picpoul de Pinet from the tiny Pinet region is a great palate refresher with its lovely zesty fruity flavours. Young French wines from blends such as Ugni Blanc and Colombard grapes, Chilean Sauvignons and Godello from Spain are also worth seeking out as aperitifs.
Crisp salads and light meat or fish dishes that are so appealing on hot sunny days some of the best wines are the light young whites from the Loire Valley in France such as the Touraine Sauvignons etc. Look towards the Atlantic Coast near Angers and you’ll find Muscadet – there has been a resurgence of interest in this wine following changes in the appellation laws and contemporary Muscadets have regained some of their appeal.
If you like Muscadets look out for some of the crisp uncomplicated whites from the Albarino grape in Galicia in NW Spain These wines are full of flavour yet light and refreshing as are their Portuguese counterparts made from the Alvarinho grape with a lovely minerality and crisp yet fruity dryness. New Zealand Pinot Gris is a good alternative to a Sauvignon as is a Chenin Blanc from South Africa such as that made by Jeremy Borg under the Painted Wolf label.
Roses come into their own at this time of year with their light touch, but no longer are they typically nondescript or slightly sweet. Look out for new roses from traditional red wine making regions such as the Albia Rose from Tuscany made from the Sangiovese grape by the renowned Chianti producer, Ricasoli and is light, fragrant and refreshingly fruity with a lovely soft note but still dry. Southern French roses such as the wines made at Domaine de Rimauresq from Provence deserve attention too; they have a delicate onion skin colour and light flavours to match.
BBQ reds need to have some ‘bite’ to accompany the chargrilled flavours and often this is best in young reds such as the vibrant Merayo Mencia from Bierzo, Mont Rochar Carignan form the South of France and a definite wow is the Visconti della Rocca Salento Primitivo from Puglia – all full of flavour and great character. Worth a try!