By TOM MARQUARDT and PATRICK DARR
If you’re like most people, you spend your day in a fast-pace environment whether the task be taking care of the family or earning a paycheck by pushing paper. There is scant time to read a book, watch a little TV or simply idle a summer evening on a chaise lounge. Relax? Save it for the weekend, right?
Many of us who come home from a busy day enjoy a glass of wine to transition our bodies into a slower tempo. In the winter, it was probably a glass of cabernet sauvignon in the easy chair. But now you can turn off the political drivel on the TV, prop your feet on the patio and sip a glass of chilled white wine.
Most of you will turn to an opened bottle of your favorite chardonnay or sauvignon blanc. But there are so many other wines that will add another dimension to that happy hour. To challenge your palate and put some spring into your step, find a happy hour wine with freshness, bright acidity, simplicity, value and dry, tart fruit.
Here are several unique white and rosé wines that will get you in the right mood:
- Marchesi de Frescobaldi Massovivo Ammiraglia Vermentino IGT 2014 ($20). Vermentino is not widely planted in Tuscany but this example from Frescobaldi might inspire others to give this grape a chance in primarily red-dominated Tuscany. Light golden in color this all stainless steel wine offers hints of spice in the nose with a blend of citrus and pear flavors that are very smooth and elegant. Try this wine with lighter style seafood dishes.
- Ferraton Pere & Fils Cotes du Rhone Samorens Blanc 2015 ($14). We love the acidity in the refreshing white blends from the Cotes du Rhone. This delicious beauty is a magic blend of grenache and clairette. It has a floral, peach notes.
- Chateau Paul Mas Belluguette 2013 ($20). We just don’t drink many white wines from the Languedoc simply because they are off our radar. Here is one to put on the radar – a full throttle, complex blend of vermentino, roussanne, grenache and viognier with ripe melon and pineapple flavors, a combination of crisp acidity and creamy texture. It has the tartness to offset those summer temps. If you prefer red, Paul Mas makes an outstanding Clos des Mures blend of syrah, grenache and mouvedre for a terrific price of $20. You won’t go wrong with this producer.
- Tommasi Le Rosse Pinot Grigio 2015 ($17). With more substance than your usual pinot grigio, this layered wine has apple and grapefruit notes with brisk acidity to keep those humid summer days at bay.
- Franciscan Estate Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($18). Broad, luscious fruit expression with lemon and varietal grapefruit flavors. The producer also makes a 2015 Equilibrium ($23) that has a bit of muscat and chardonnay to provide a softer mouthfeel and a more expansive palate. Very interesting.
- Balletto Teresa’s Unoaked Chardonnay 2015 ($20). Chardonnay is still the king of white wine sales, so you can’t write about summer without including one. This unoaked version from the Russian River Valley complements summer fare, especially fish. Tart and with good acidity, it is a delicious wine.
- Rutini Trumpeter Torrontes Mendoza Argentina 2014 ($11). An effusive citrus, peach and melon nose with ripe melon and peach flavors and a beautiful creamy finish. A terrific value!
- Bisol Jeio Cuvee Rosé ($16). Do you have something to celebrate, such as getting through the day alive? This pink spumante brut from Italy’s Veneto region is an interesting, inexpensive blend of merlot and pinot nero. Lots of citrus and strawberry flavors for those who like their bubbly fruity.
- King Estate Acrobat Rosé of Pinot Noir 2015 ($15). From Oregon, this tasty rosé has melon and strawberry notes with some nice minerality.
- Franco-Espanolas Rioja Bordon Rosé 2015 ($15). Made from garnacha and viura grapes, this Spanish rosado has simple but bountiful red fruit, citrus flavors and balanced acidity.
- Tenuta Di Arceno Il Fauno di Arcanum Tuscany 2011 ($30). This is a blend of 76 percent merlot with cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, sangiovese and petite verdot mixed in to create an intense cherry-dominated wine that offers great balance and a fine drinking experience. It can be enjoyed now or aged for at least five years.
- Poliziano Vin Nobile de Montepulciano “Asinone” 2012 ($60). This luxurious blend of sangiovese (80 percent) and merlot shows off vibrant, dark fruit flavors, some dried herbs and an earthy texture.
- Concha y Toro Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($17). Dark in color with a floral, plum bouquet and dark berry flavors with a hint of chocolate. A complex Chilean wine for the price.
- Lamoie di Lamole Chianti Classico 2012 ($21). A good value, this simple chianti hits all the right spots: balanced acidity, ripe wild berry flavors and a bit of oak and spice. The producer also makes a very nice gran selezione under its Vigneto di Campolungo label ($45) that is blended with 15 percent cabernet sauvignon.
- Hess Select Treo Winemaker’s Red Blend 2013 ($19). So many producers use zinfandel as their base for red blends, but the wines are often over ripe. Here we have petite sirah and syrah as the foundation for a more complex and fruit-balanced blend. Zinfandel, malbec and merlot make up the rest of the electic mix. Rich, ripe and loaded with dark berry flavors.