High-end Summer Wines to Try

When the summer months arrive, more general grocery store aisles can be seen dotted with palate-titillating domestic and imported summer wines of whites and roses.

Alder Yarrow, founder and editor of the widely read wine blog vinography.com, told the Associated Press that it’s becoming more popular for high-end wines to be featured at big chain supermarkets.

But with consumers getting more sophisticated, “You’re starting to see even the bigger chains in states where they’re able to sell wine beginning to stock more than just what the massive distributors will send them.”


Joel Kampfe, wine director at ENO Wine Bar in San Francisco, gravitates toward a good New Zealand sauvignon blanc or an Edna Valley Chardonnay. Both are “always consistent. Always delicious.”

For Michael Taylor, wine director for Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House in Chicago, summer wines are “really all about refreshment. You want something crisp and light.”

As a resident of the San Francisco Bay area, where summer means slightly more fog, Yarrow tends to drink the same wines year-round. Still, if he’s planning a barbecue (maybe in the one warm month, October) he’ll find himself leaning toward a wine like Ravenswood zinfandel, widely available and a good pairing for hearty roast meats .

Sumemr wine picks from the experts —

From Yarrow:

  • Robert Sinskey Pinot Gris, $22. “I think it’s one of the best value wines in the country. Really light, really savory, really juicy.”
  • MacRostie Chardonnay, $15. “One of the wines you can find relatively easily. Great acidity and good fruit.”
  • Chateau St. Michelle Eroica Riesling, $22. “A great spring and summer wine, even over ice.” (This was a Kampfe pick, too.)
  • Borsao Tinto, under $10. A Spanish red wine made with the grenache grape. This is “great for grilling and backyard barbecuing and typical summer entertaining.”

From Taylor:

  • Crios de Susana Balbao Torrontes, around $14. Made with Argentina’s signature white grape, “it’s really got these beautiful aromatics, really floral. On the palate, it’s nice and peachy.”
  • Toad Hollow Mendocino Chardonnay, $12 to 13. An unoaked style of chardonnay, which means the wine has not spent time in oak barrels and therefore is a fresher-tasting, fruitier wine. “Most people think of chardonnays with these buttery, oaky overtones and a sort of richness to them, but really that comes from a winemaker’s perspective. Chardonnay if left unoaked is actually a little bit more acidic; it’s got some lemony tones to it and a nice bright crispness.”
  • Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Wine, $15. A crisp, sparkling wine. “Gloria Ferrer is one of the older houses in California making sparkling wines, a nice trustworthy name.”
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