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Top Ten Wines For Summer Drinking (June 29, 2007)

There are wines I drink in summer that I would barely touch the rest of the year. Not that I don't like them, but there are some wines that scream summer at you. Like rosés, because they're pretty in pink and look great on an al fresco table; and German Riesling, because it is low in alcohol and wonderfully refreshing as an aperitif (although I confess I drink German Riesling all year round, but low alcohol is what you want on a hot summer's day on the patio).

The other engine of summer is the barbecue, which has imbibing protocols of its own. Those wines you consume without food should be light and fresh (non-oaked whites, chillable reds) because sunshine and alcohol is a dangerous combination. Wines for barbecued ribs, steaks and burgers should be flavourful and concentrated enough to stand up to spicy marinades and smoky flavours.

So the yin and yang of summer wine works like this: light, fresh and unoaked aperitifs (Dionysus will not descend from the blue and set about you with a vine stalk if you add soda water to everyday wines or chill down reds) and brawny, fruit-driven reds with your burnt offerings from the barbecue.

Here are my Ten Top Summer Suggestions that are recent additions to the LCBO's list:

1. Fazi-Battaglia Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2005
This white from Marche region of Italy with its distinctive Wagnerian soprano shape is a perennial favourite. The 2005 vintage is a stunner and great value. Pale straw in colour with a fresh nose of apples, pears and wet stones; medium-bodied with a clean, fresh, citric finish.
Food match:
grilled trout; cold chicken
($11.15, LCBO #24422)

2. Wild Vines Blackberry Merlot (California)
This is a blend of wine and blackberry juice from the Gallo guys – never thought I'd be recommending such a concoction! – but it's a delicious summer drink if lightly chilled. Pale ruby colour with a nose of watermelon with a floral grace note; slightly fizzy on the tongue with a sweet, fruity blackberry flavour. Easy drinking and light – only 6 per cent alcohol.
Food match: aperitif wine; sponge cake
($7.15, LCBO #534164)

3. Errazuriz Don Max Reserve Shiraz 2005 (Chile)
A real bruiser of a Shiraz from Chile. Dense purple colour; spicy, blackberry, black olive nose; full-bodied and savoury with blackberry, spice and baker's chocolate flavours. Firm structure with a tannic lift on the finish.
Food match: BBQ steak; fresh parmesan
($18.15, LCBO #614750)

4. Taltarni T Series Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2005 (Victoria, Australia)
A lovely blend from down under. Pale straw colour with a lime tint; grassy, green fig nose; fresh and lively on the palate with green apple, grapefruit and gooseberry flavours. Good length. Good value.
Food match: crustaceans; runny Brie
($15.95, Vintages #19471)

5. William Fèvre Champs Royaux 2006
One of the most reliable white Burgundies, vintage after vintage. Not as full as the 2005 but more characteristic of the region. Pale straw colour; steely, green apple nose; softer on the palate than the nose suggests. Medium-bodied, minerally, apple and pear flavour with citrus acidity; good length.
Food match: oysters; grilled trout
($20.30, LCBO #276436)

6. Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais Villages 2005
This is your one-stop party wine. Purple-ruby in colour, it has a spicy black cherry nose. It's clean and fruity with lively acidity and well made well made – a party-sized gulpable red best served lightly chilled.
Food match: hamburgers; pizza
($24.85, 1500 mL, LCBO #29066)

7. Château des Charmes Aligoté 2005
This winery is the only one to produce an Aligoté in Canada, right here in our backyard in Niagara. Medium straw colour with a nose of struck flint and green apple. Medium-bodied, dry, fresh, green apple and mineral flavours. Chablis-esque. Good value, versatile food wine.
Food match: grilled white fish; Camembert
($13.15, LCBO #284950)

8. Hillebrand Trius Riesling Dry 2005
A real bargain in the bubbly department from Ontario. Pale straw in colour with a bouquet of petrol, minerals and citrus fruits. Medium-bodied with a dry, rich lime flavour and a light floral note; good length.
Food match: pork loin; grilled scallops
($14.15, LCBO #303792)

9. Château de Montguerre Cremant de Loire Brut (Loire)
A delightful bubbly at an affordable price. Medium straw colour with a minerally, crab apple and citrus nose; medium-bodied, well made with a fresh, lively finish.
Food match: apéritif wine; cold salmon
($19.15, LCBO #621896)

10. Angus The Bull 2005
This is the ultimate steak wine made by the Aberdeen Wine company in Australia. A hearty blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, with 5% Cabernet Franc, 2% Shiraz and 1% Merlot (why?). Whatever. This is a sturdy, beefy red wine with deep colour and a redolent nose of smoky blackcurrant and vanilla; full-bodied and juicy with a sweet fruit palate that finishes dry.
Food match: steak; venison.
($17.95, LCBO #602615)




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