Now’s the time to stock up on bargains in summer wines. Lighter, younger wines pair well with classic late spring and summer delicacies. Steamed lobster and corn on the cob (2018 Javillier Meursault [French Burgundy Chardonnay] Les Tillets $85); jumbo shrimp and asparagus spears on the grill (2019 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand $35, if available); organic chicken salad and sautéed broccolini (Preston “Madam Preston Grape Wine” 2017 $30 from the Dry Creek Valley of California); lightly fried grouper fingers and vinegary cabbage and carrot slaw (2018 Schloss Johannisberg Rotlack Riesling Kabinett Feinherb $35 from Germany); baked oysters and zucchini (Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine Sur Lie ‘Les Gras Moutons’ 2017 $21 from the Loire Valley of France); and, Crab Louie on a bed of greens (2018 Domaine Huet Vouvray Moelleux Premier Trie Le Mont 2018 $67): each paired with its own canonical wine.
But, wait a minute…. At an average price of $45.50, we are pricing late spring and summer meals with wine beyond our budget. To deal with this reality check, we have ventured into scrappier wine regions and vineyards in search of intriguing yet more affordable wines. Guides in wine shops (Lennie at ABC and Jane at Morton’s) have led us to likely candidates. For light fin and shell fish dishes, we selected a Sella & Mosca La Cala Vermentino di Sardegna 2020 $13. This crisp white wine enhances the flavors of fresh seafood. Its finish evokes ripe white peaches. A Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc and Viognier 2021 from the Napa Valley of California ($12) has a clean taste, soft on the edges, that goes well with salads topped with shrimp and crab or grilled or fried fish. The Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap Vognier, Chenin Blanc, and Grenache Blanc 2019 ($10) has a gamey nose and a wild array of flavors. For full measure, we’ll also throw in a Pavette Pinot Noir 2020 ($10) from California. This label has no specific location. For all that we know, a mysterious negotiante has blended pinot noir from across California into a rich array of berry and stone fruit tastes. The average of these wine prices ($11.25 vs. $45.50) makes a clear case for looking outside the box.
Summer wines make entertaining on porches and outdoors easy during the longer and warmer evenings. Have a bottle or two chilled and ready for informal get togethers.
S. W. Hermansen has used his expertise in econometrics, data science and epidemiology to help develop research databases for the Pentagon, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Agriculture, and Health Resources and Services. He has visited premier vineyards and taste wines from major appellations in California, Oregon, New York State, and internationally from Tuscany and the Piedmont in Italy, the Ribera del Duero in Spain, the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale in Australia, and the Otego Valley in New Zealand. Currently he splits time between residences in Chevy Chase, Maryland and St. Armand’s Circle in Florida.
Rich Hermansen selected has first wine list for a restaurant shortly after graduating from college with a degree in Mathematics. He has extensive service and management experience in the food and wine industry. Family and friends rate him as their favorite chef, bartender, and wine steward. He lives in Severna Park, Maryland.