Sunny days and long, warm nights. From beaches and bonfires to sunny patios and cottage BBQ dinners, summer in Nova Scotia may be on the short side but is it ever sweet! Here’s what I’m drinking this summer:
Patio Perfect: Crisp White Wines & Dry Rosé
If you haven’t already, it’s time to join the so-called “Pet-Nat Posse”! Petillant Natural aka Naturally Sparkling aka Pet Nat aka summer’s hottest wine trend (you get the point) is an ancient method of making sparkling wine. The result is a wine that is a vivid, unfiltered and incredibly quenching summer sipper. For an introduction to the style, check out the locally-made Benjamin Bridge Pet-Nat in cans or Niagara’s own Tawse Winery Pet Nat. If you’re looking for something more international, try the delicious Am Stein Pure & Naked Pet Nat or brand-new Flower Girl Methode Ancestrale from South Africa.
Looking for a crowd pleaser for a hot summer afternoon? Look no further than our own backyard! Tidal Bay is Nova Scotia’s signature white wine blend and happens to be a delicious addition to any summer plans. Take it from me: pick your favourite producer and keep at least one bottle in the fridge ready for impromptu guests, Asian-inspired cuisine like Sushi, and salty snacks on a patio.
If you’re looking for something completely different: new to our shop is Pianirossi Vermentino, a fresh and mineral-driven white wine from Italy’s La Maremma district nestled in Southern Tuscany. It’s ready for any crisp summer salad or fresh seafood dish you can throw at it.
Finally, there’s rosé. We love rosé here at Bishop’s Cellar and we’ve had more than 25 rosés hit our shelves in the past few months. There’s nothing quite like a bottle of pink wine this time of year- full of flavour and freshness, while also offering incredibly food friendly aromas and flavours. I’m a sucker for newcomer Austrian wine Sepp Moser Zweigelt Rosé and Le Domaine de Galantin Bandol Rosé- because, in my humble opinion, there’s never a time when Bandol disappoints. If you’re on a budget, go for Sierra de Enmedio Rosé, Le Petit Pont or Domaine de Cassagnau– each offers a lot of bang for the buck.
Summer Sippers: Fresh & bright red wines
Hot summer nights call for a light, fresh, and crushable red wine. Don’t be afraid to chill these wines down before you enjoy them!
Ask almost any of our staff about their summer wine faves and you’re bound to hear lots about Gamay. This purple-hued grape makes light bodied and fruity wines everywhere from its famous home in France’s Beaujolais region to areas around the world, including Niagara, Australia and Oregon’s Willamette Valley to name a few. Try one of our delicious Beaujolais Cru wines, I especially love our old standbys Domaine Dupueble Beaujolais and LaPierre Raisins Gaulois, while brand-new wine Domaine Charly Thevenent Regnie brings all the wow factor! For something fun and fresh, try the Made-in-Canada Malivoire Gamay. When it comes to food pairings, Gamay is incredibly food friendly. Try it with everything from a beach picnic of chicken salad sandwiches to, stay with me on this one, Chinese takeout. I especially love it with charcuterie and creamy, washed rind cheeses.
Alternatively, try something different and turn your BBQ into a pizza oven too cook up homemade pizzas right on the grill! Open up a bottle of fresh, nervy Italian red for the perfect pairing. For a cheap thrill try Borggero Casotto Antico Barbera d’Asti– at just $15/bottle this is hands down one of the best value-for-money deals in our shop. If you want to drink what I’m drinking this summer; stock up on the brand new Marco Barba Barbarossa from Veneto and Sicily’s Occhipinti SP68 Red, which recently returned to our shop. These wines are juicy, gulpable, and zinging with a liveliness I look for in summer reds.
Big, bold reds are BBQ-Ready
Like many, I rarely cook on anything but the BBQ this time of year. Whether you’re grilling up burgers & meat or vegetables and halloumi; the smoky, deep flavours grilled food require wines with a bigger body and fuller flavours to tie the flavours together.
Personally, I’m a big fan of the Spanish wines for these purposes. Great value, bold flavours, and often organic winemaking are all fantastic features of these wines. For something fruit forward and spicy, with less tannin structure, go for a bold wine made with the Garnacha grape: try Bodegas Gregorio Las Martas Garnacha or Bodegas Langa Real de Aragon Garnacha to start. If you’re looking for more tannin and acidity, especially helpful if you’re pairing meat dishes, find Spain’s star grape Tempranillo. Try Vina Saturnia Joven Tinto or Club Privado Tempranillo first and then step it up with an aged Rioja or slightly more mineral wine from Ribera del Duero.
Finally, after spending several months exploring the backroads and vines of South Africa in 2012, I have an enduring soft spot for the wines of that beautiful country. As a result, you’ll never see my wine rack at home without both the Big Flower Cabernet Franc and the Big Flower Cabernet Sauvignon these days. Bonus: these are the perfect wines for beefy burgers or steak dinners.
July may be flying by, but there are still weeks and weeks of sunny summer fun left. Enjoy!