Summer is the time to enjoy low-alcohol, bright wines that go well with your outdoor dinner party or barbecue. Brad Haskel is the wine director of Saltaire Oyster Bar and Fish House, set to open in early August in Port Chester, New York, in Westchester County. Located on the banks of the Byram River, the restaurant features light wines that go well with fresh oysters and seafood.
“We are looking for great producers of well-tended vineyards, and minimal intervention production. We want balanced wines that are very typical of where they are from,” Haskel said.
Below are Haskel’s recommendations for white, red, and rosé wines that are perfect for summer but won’t break the bank (with two notable but worthwhile exceptions), listed with their suggested retail prices.
José Pariente Verdejo 2014 (Rueda, Castilla y León, Spain) $21.99
This is a light, crisp, white with a clean, lemony minerality, and a touch of floral elements. Great on its own, or with light- to medium-bodied seafood. Pariente is considered one of the leading producers in Rueda.
Paumanok Chenin Blanc 2014 (North Fork, Long Island) $28.00
The 2013 Chenin Blanc is no longer available, but the 2014 wine is just as outstanding. This is a reasonably priced aromatic gem that first seems as though it will be fully sweet. The truth is, this wine, made from grapes discovered completely accidentally by the Massoud family, may be the finest white wine I have tasted from Long Island. Great on its own, and even better with medium-bodied fish, and white meat. Slightly off-dry and delicious.
Michel Gassier “Cercius” 2013 (Costieres de Nimes, Rhone Valley, France) $14.99
This clean, minerally blend of 70 percent Grenache Blanc and 30 percent Sauvignon Blanc is laser-focused and pure. This is a versatile food wine, from a sub-region in the Rhone Valley of France, that is still relatively obscure.
Mastroberardino Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio 2013 (Campania, Italy) $21.99
Mastroberardino is the winery credited with resuscitating the indigenous grapes of Campania.
Made from 100 percent coda di volpe grapes and grown in soil with volcanic ash, the wine has a white peach and mineral stoniness in the flavors. The wine is stored in stainless steel tanks to preserve crispness.
Hermanos Merino Viña Catajarros Rosado 2014 (Cigales, Castilla-León, Spain) $14.99
A rosado from the Merino brothers in Cigales made from old vine tinto del pais (tempranillo) and a 20 percent mix that includes garnacha, and two white grapes—verdejo and alvillo. The winemaking is very traditional, and until 15 years ago, they still used the classic stone and timber Roman-style press.
Lail Vineyards “J. Daniel Cuvee” 2011 (Napa Valley, California) $157.99
Descended from the originators of Inglenook, the Lail family makes this 100 percent cabernet sauvignon in an approachable style, that has enough stuffing to age for decades, while still being drinkable right now. Complex, rich, full-bodied Napa cab in a very classic style. This one is for the big splurge, but the Lails know Napa’s history, and make wine that continues to positively grow the image of Napa.
Chateau Haut Segottes (St. Emilion, Bordeaux, France) $38.99
From fourth-generation winegrower Danielle Meunier, on her nine-hectare estate that is planted to 60 percent merlot, 35 percent cabernet franc, and 5 percent cabernet sauvignon. All nine hectares are within St. Emilion Grand Cru vineyards. Neighboring properties include La Dominique and Cheval Blanc. This is classically delicious, multidimensional, balanced, ageable wine that drinks well young and keeps getting better.
Valle Dell’Acate Il Frapatto 2013 (Sicily, Italy) $21.99
Talk about a great summer red! Although historically one of the most important estates in Sicily, this winery has used some modern advances, while farming organically over vineyards where blood oranges once grew. This wine, light and aromatic, with wild strawberry flavors, can use a slight chill before drinking. Great with medium-bodied fish, and white meats. Also great with fatty and gamey meats like duck.
Reuling Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 (Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California) $70.00
Great pinot noir that carries weight without heaviness. A unique vineyard owned by Jackie and Tim Reuling, and farmed biodynamically by winegrower Matt Taylor. This is wine that made people fall in love with California pinot. Light- to medium-bodied, with intensity and clarity. Not cheap, but worth the splurge.
Decíma Mencía 2013 (Ribeira Sacra, Galicia, Spain) $28.99
One of the up and coming regions, Ribeira Sacra is among the very most beautiful rugged regions where wine is produced. José Manuel Rodríguez is the owner and winegrower. This wine shows off the pomegranate and slate flavors the region is known for, but Decíma’s Mencía is brilliant. Think of mencía as a grape a little denser than Burgundy pinot noir.