Bill’s Best Bets – July 2017

Superlative summer drinking and eating
by Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

Finally it has arrived. After what has seemed like months of wet and dreary weather, a whole week of sunshine and heat. It’s time to really crank up the barbecue and get some eating and drinking done.

Aside from the occasional rosé that I have recommended in the monthly 20 under $20, I have to admit that while I have tasted over 50 pink wines so far this year, my personal consumption has been minimal. That will change.

I am not averse to spending as much as I would normally fork out for a red or white on a rosé, especially if I am serving it with a meal. But for you bargain hunters, if you want a great little aperitif that can work with both hors d’ouevres like salsa or shrimp with cocktail sauce, I have really enjoyed the 2016 Buti Nages, a Costières de Nîmes made by Michel Gassier. Great fruit, just enough flesh and for under $15, a great deal.

Buti Nages Vin Rosé 2016Domaine Clavel Mescladis Pic St Loup 2016Domaine du Gros Noré Rosé 2016

But I love to drink pink at the table. One of my latest discoveries is Domaine Clavel 2016 Mescladis Pic St Loup. Gorgeous florals and surprisingly fleshy on the finish. We started drinking this while cooking up a vegetarian Indian meal and just kept on drinking it with the food. One of my favourite grilled meats is Bavette marinated in tamari, chiles and fresh coriander, and then cooked on the barbecue. I love a powerful rosé with that, so I drank both the 2015, which I had in my cellar, as well as the 2016 of the Bandol from Gros Noré. These wines are worth aging.

And if you want a pink in a larger format, I was really surprised by the quality of the 2016 Luberon Elephant Rosé. Yes, it comes in a cool looking box, but for 3L, it drinks superbly. Great camping wine as well.

Éléphant Rose Luberon

Insofar as white wine goes, the cool beginning of summer has done little to cut my consumption. While lobster has gone back up in price, I’m still making lobster club sandwiches and cranking back a Chablis with them. Since I add mayonnaise to my lobster to make it “clubby,” I want a richer Chablis and the riper 2015’s are perfect for it. Try the 2015 Chablis from Isabelle and Denis Pommier or if you want to spend a little more, then the 2015 Premier cru Montmains from Brocard.

Isabelle Et Denis Pommier Chablis 2015Jean Marc Brocard Montmains Chablis 1er Cru 2015La Moussière Sancerre 2016Michel Redde & Fils Petit Fumé 2015

There is still some asparagus around. I love sauvignon blanc with asparagus and I admit to drinking a few bottles of the 2016 Sancerre from Alphonse Mellot. Goes great with lighter fish as well. Sancerre costs but if you want a less expensive substitute, then the 2015 Petit Fumé from Michel Redde will do the trick nicely. This wine is a gulper.

I loved the 2015 Vinho Verde from Morgadio da Torre with mussels. And as a fan of Greek wine, no list of summer drinking is complete without a mention. If you are cooking up some fried calamari or octopus, then the 2016 Assyrtiko/Malagousia from Gervassilou is the perfect match.

Morgadio Da Torre Alvarinho 2015Ktima Gerovassiliou White 2016Tormaresca Torcicoda Primitivo 2014Les Vins De Vienne Gigondas Les Pimpignoles 2014

Now onto the reds. Got burgers on the BBQ and need a chuggable red? If you like ketchup on it, you’ll need a bit of alcohol as well. Try the 2014 Primitivo from Torcicado. Works well with baby back ribs too.

For steaks, there is really no limit to choices. One of my favourites of recent releases is the 2014 Gigondas from Vins de Vienne. So refined, so powerful. For you Napa Valley lovers who don’t want to spend a fortune, the Joel Gott 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon will do the trick. And if you want something a little different, try the 2014 Antelio Basilicata Rosso from Carmalengo. 100% aglianico and shows superb fruit, spice and finesse.

Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon 2014Azienda Agricola Camerlengo Antelio 2014Pascal Et Alain Lorieux Les Mauguerets La Contrie 2014Tetramythos Kalavryta 2015

And finally, if you are eating lighter and want a red to chill down and pack back, then there are two noteworthy wines I recently tasted. Both the 2014 Saint-Nicholas de Bourgueil from Lorieux and the 2015 Kalavryta from Greece’s  Tetramythos have one thing in common despite being made with completely different grapes and coming from very different countries. With a slight chill (14C), they drink with abandon.

Enjoy the heat folks,



“There’s enjoyment to be had of a glass of wine without making it a fetish.” – Frank Prial

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Lolo Albarino 2016