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It's Summertime and the Drinkin' is Fine...

It’s Summertime and the Drinkin’ is Fine…

It’s not news that summer is white wine season.  But there are lots of red wines that deserve get some summer lovin’ as well.


That was the theme of a tasting held at Armonk Wine & Spirits a few days ago, and my friend Susan & I (aka the Amateur & the Pro) were delighted to attend.


We were part of a group tasting and ranking six summertime reds – blind! This is blindfolded-mandefinitely a great way to overcome perceptions, and the results were quite a surprise.


For fun, read our tasting notes without the wines and see if what you might like matches up with the overall favorites.


Wine 1:


This wine had a great purple color, dirty earth aromas and savory bacon flavors.  (Kathleen)


I tasted sour cherry, which might have been nice, but it was coupled with a slight fizziness, although I can’t really explain why that bothered me! It wasn’t terrible, but I won’t run out to buy it. (Susan)


Wine 2:


This one was musty on the nose, with summer-bright fruit flavors and a tart finish.  For me, meh.


Lovely. It was soft and round, and tasted of strawberries, but with a floral note. We were tasting without food, and it completely worked, but I look forward to drinking it with a meal.


Wine 3:


This wine has a sweet nose (the person next to me called it watermelon) and was smooth on the palate.  It didn’t seem very interesting to me.


This wine has a bright, cherry bouquet, and a taste that somehow crossed peppermint and black pepper. I enjoyed my first taste, but as I sipped more, I quickly got tired of the somewhat cloying sweetness that underlay the tart veneer.


Wine 4:


It was really hard to get past this wine’s bologna smell…it just didn’t happen. Blech, I wrote.  That’s a technical term.


This wine had a musky leather smell and cranberry taste, but it obviously didn’t wow me, given that that’s the entirety of my notes for it.


Wine 5:


This red blend was spicy and watery on my palate.


This wine had a faint, slightly earthy bouquet. It tasted of burnt wood and blackberry, and had a peppery finish. A great summer hamburger wine.


Wine 6:


Rubber and earth, my notes say.


This one had a sharp smell of superglue (really!) and a candy flavor – actually, more like fruit roll-ups.


Okay.  Made up your mind?


First, the group results:


The winning wine

The winning wine!

The overall favorite was wine 5, the Walden Cotes du Roussillon Rouge, a red blend from southern France.


The second favorite was the Cavallotto Grign, made in Italy’s Piedmont region from a native varietal and wine 2 in the tasting.


Third favorite was the Domaine Bassac Syrah, wine 4, another wine from southern France.


Ready to be surprised?  Two of the group’s favorites were my least favorites!


I put the first wine as my number 1, the Pace Barbera d’Alba, again from Piedmont.


On my list, two wines tied for distant second place:  wine 2 (the Cavallotto Grgin) and wine 6, Teira Zinfandel from Sonoma.


Wines 3, 4 and 5 (Heitz Cellars Grignolino, from Napa’s venerable cabernet producer, the Bassac Syrah and Walden Cotes du Roussillon Rouge, respectively) tied for last.


Susan, however, had a completely different take on the wines.  Her preferences were in line with the group’s assessment:


So, which one overall? When the owners poured us more of the ones we wanted to try again, I did a head-to-head tasting with my two favorites, wine 2 and wine 5.


Wine 2 (the Cavallotto Grign) was the clear winner, although at $15 a bottle, wine 5 (the Walden Cotes du Roussillon) will most definitely have a place on my patio table this summer.


This is a case where the Pro and the Am disagree sharply on a number of these wines. (No kidding! I am totally the odd drinker out with this group!)


Which is a good reminder of what Kathleen frequently reminds me:  It’s your glass of wine, and it’s really about what you like.


Still, I’m calling the Pro for advice (and with an invitation) when I host my first summer dinner party.


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