A cold beer is often the order of the day during summer months for sheer versatility while dining al fresco, but a bottle of wine is de rigueur for many. Not only does bringing a bottle of wine for the host look good, it often means you can help control the quality of the wine you’ll enjoy. Personally, I love relaxing and savouring a nice bottle of wine on a hot day in the shade with my feet up. I also like not taking wine too seriously during that precious downtime – I want to enjoy reasonably-priced wines meant for casual enjoyment, and best of all – sharing them with friends, family and visitors. Try these must-try summer wines.
RADIO BOKA NV TEMPRANILLO, VALENCIA, SPAIN
Yes, it’s a bag in a box, but don’t let that scare you. Enticing cherry fruits with savoury herbs on the nose lead into generous fruits with a little spice on the back end. It isn’t outrageously complex, but it certainly goes down easy. Have on hand for a barbecue or two this summer. 3L box, CSPC +775545 $40 (also available in smaller formats).
JOSEPH DROUHIN 2014 “DOMAINE DES HOSPICES DE BELLEVILLE” BROUILLY BURGUNDY, FRANCE
One of the “Crus” of Beaujolais, Brouilly is miles away from the Beaujolais Nouveau you might be familiar with. Lighter in colour, this gamay shows softer fruits of plum, a mild jamminess and pepper. Quite the refreshing wine, a little cheese or grilled seafood would be very nice here. CSPC +194548 $27.
CASTAÑO 2013 HÉCULA MONASTRELL, YECLA, SPAIN
Heartwarming berry fruits leaning towards blueberry and wild raspberries with lovely peppery spice and a touch of cocoa on the nose. Flavours are very consistent with slightly edgy tannins and a nice bit of fat-friendly acidity. Homemade burgers or even a nice cheese/charcuterie board would work oh-so-well here. CSPC +711017 $18.
FLEUR DU CAP 2014 CABERNET SAUVIGNON, WESTERN CAPE, SOUTH AFRICA
I don’t usually drink a lot of South African reds, but that really should change. Cedar and cherry cola-style aromas on the nose with medium weight bell pepper underneath, while the palate is slightly smoky with good fruits and appropriate tannin for a cab. Pull the cork, and you’ll want to pair it with ribs or lamb. CSPC +778263 $12-13.
CASA ERMELINDA 2013 VINHA DA ROSARIO, SETUBAL, PORTUGAL
Using a blend of traditional Portuguese grapes with syrah and cabernet sauvignon, look for slightly rustic aromas with fresh blueberry and cherry fruits on the nose and palate. Very well priced — the slightly juicy fruits should prove very appealing to your next barbecue’s whistle wetting. CSPC +752977 about $13.
TRAPICHE 2014 BROQUEL MALBEC, MENDOZA, ARGENTINA
A well-known, classic malbec that easily overperforms for the price. Intense fruits, lots of floral characters, and dried herbs on the nose lead towards a nice full body with medium, but balanced tannins and good depth all around. A fine choice for hanger steaks, game meats or any high protein barbecue choice. CSPC +1093573 $18.
JOSEPH DROUHIN 2014 “DOMAINE DES HOSPICES DE BELLEVILLE” FLEURIE BURGUNDY, FRANCE
Another Beaujolais Cru, Fleurie is a big improvement over other expressions of gamay. White pepper, a little mint, strawberries, and herb leaf on the nose continue on through the palate. Finely balanced, it’s screaming out for rotisserie-style poultry, sausage, or burgers. CSPC +862870 $29.
FLEUR DU CAP 2015 CHARDONNAY, WESTERN CAPE, SOUTH AFRICA
Lovely lifted apple, peach and lime aromas on the nose with nicely restrained wood tones lead into fresh and tropical flavours. Well priced, it’s an easygoing, fun little number calling out for grilled seafood or herb-rubbed poultry. CSPC +778267 $12-13.
CASTAÑO 2014 MONASTRELL, YECLA, SPAIN
Well-known as a great deal, the Castaño monastrell brings to the party an abundance of genuine raspberry fruits, wild berry, and spice on the nose, which carries through on the palate. Quite the crowd pleaser for mixed groups, but will really shine when served with game meats, sausages, or kebabs. CSPC +583690 $15.
EL PETIT BONHOMME 2014 BLANCO, RUEDA, SPAIN
Another tremendous deal, the wines of Nathalie Bonhomme kick *ss and take names. The blanco is made from verdejo grapes and shows plenty of apple and citrus fruits with a little flinty mineral character to boot. No food required, though lighter seafood dishes or soft cheese would be a treat here. CSPC +79046 $12.
LOLEA SANGRIA, SPAIN
Want to enjoy a little sangria without the trouble of mixing one up? I was cautiously optimistic about whether a good pre-made sangria was really out there, and happy to have found one. Juicy, almost over-the-top fruity, and with a generous amount of sweetness, fizz, and a touch of tannin, Lolea is easy to quaff. Serve chilled with a fruit garnish. CSPC +765190 $15.
DUNAVAR 2015 PINOT GRIGIO, HUNGARY
I swear, I can remember when this wine was less than $7. It was a deal then, and it still is today. Look for apple and peach fruits that have a soft undercurrent of nectarine and vanilla bean. Light, easy going, and very well-priced. Keep a few on hand for unexpected entertaining or just because you might need wine on a Tuesday, too. CSPC +438119 $9-10.