Summer might be winding down but it doesn’t mean your palate has to fade away to fall. Here are five fun-filled and flavorful wines to keep summer’s spirit alive through the Labor Day weekend.
Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Sparkling Rose`,
Germany, $13.99 - Dr. Loosen and Villa Wolf owner Ernst Loosen's philosophy is simple: Make quality wines at a fair price and everyone is happy. Since taking over Villa Wolf winery in 1996, Ernst has brought smiles all around. This new nonvintage rose', crafted by winemaker Sumi Gebauer, captures all the radiance of Pfaltz, a German wine-region considered the Tuscany of the Rhine River Valley. Located north of France's cool-climate Alsace region, Villa Wolf vineyards are protected from wet weather by the low-lying Haart mountains and warmed by moderating river temperatures. Grapes ripen fully and are harvested at near perfection. Gebauer calls Villa Wolf a "true dry rose". There's no added coloring or prolonged maceration. The best-selected fruit, she says, comes through in the wines's salmon color, bright berry flavors and "zippy" finish. I detected delicate strawberry and citrus flavors in my sampling, which I paired with a chicken limone dish and a strawberry salad. Superb. Villa Wolf also produces top-notch Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc.
Robert Mondavi Fume` Blanc 2017, Napa Valley, $18.99 – Robert Mondavi’s genius lives on in this epic wine. Mondavi, who died in 2008 at 94, created this French-style Sauvignon Blanc nearly 60 years ago when the varietal had little popularity in Napa. Today, numerous California wineries produce sauvignon blanc because of Mondavi’s courage. Fume` Blanc just happens to be the most distinctive. It’s starts with the grapes; the sauvignon blanc (85 percent) and semillon (15 percent) are sourced from two prestigious vineyards – To Kalon (“the beautiful” in Greek) in Oakville and Wapo Hill in the Stag’s Leap District. This is a rich, creamy, mouthwatering white where details matter. According to Genevieve Janssens, Mondavi’s director of winemaking, 90 percent of Fume` Blanc is barrel-fermented for complexity, and the rest sees stainless steel to enhance fruit flavors. Once assembled, the wine ages for six months in French oak barrels, on its yeast lees, gaining smoothness and body. Overall, Fume` Blanc excels for its harmonious lift – crisp acidity, high alcohol (14.5 percent), and vibrant lemon, peach and tangerine flavors. Look for it on sale locally and in New Hampshire for $14.99 (Mondavi’s premium Fume` Blanc from Oakville is $34.99)
Clos Pegase “Mitsuko” Chardonnay 2017, Napa Valley, $30 – Here’s a premium-style California Chardonnay (14.5 percent alcohol) that sees a good deal of oak in its maturation process yet still retains a satisfying fruit core. Mitsuko Vineyard is a cool-climate site in Carneros which received plentiful rain in 2017 after several drought years. The fruit ripened at a steady pace on well-nourished vines. While a bit oaky from 100 percent barrel-fermentation, the Chardonnay is well-structured with lemon, peach, and honeydew traits mingling nicely with traces of toasty coconut. A lot of subtlety for an moonlit evenings at the beach or daytime patio breezes. I spied it on sale in N.H. for $23.99.
Double Down Deal of the Week: The Leese-Fitch Adobe building is a cultural landmark in Sonoma, and pre-dates
California’s 1850 statehood by 14 years. The Leese-Fitch winery honors California’s early history. Unassuming yet overachieving, Leese-Fitch crafts high quality, value wines, and posted record sales of 271,372 cases in 2017. Since 2009, Leese-Fitch has been part of 3 Badge Beverage Corp., launched by August Sebastiani in the original Sonoma firehouse that his grandfather helped build. Two splendid offerings are now on sale in Massachusetts and N.H. outlets. The first is Leese-Fitch Firehouse Red Wine 2016 ($11.99), an incredibly smooth blend of Petit Sirah, Zinfandel, Merlot, Mourvedre`, Syrah and Tempranillo that pairs well with grilled meats, especially sausages smothered in peppers and onions. The second is Leese-Fitch Chardonnay 2018 ($10.99) which gets a 10 percent splash of Viognier and oozes with a silky, whipped cream texture and plenty of nectarine, lemon zest, baked apple and vanilla nuances. It’s a solid Sonoma 1-2 punch for the long weekend ahead.