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July 31, 2023

Our Delectable Dozen for Surviving the Dog Days of Summer

by Steven Spanbauer, words and pictures guy at European Cellars, caretaker of Chowder (above)

Having worked two decades selling wines in retail, at restaurants, as a sales rep, sales manager, brand manager, and the behind-the-scenes voice for the European Cellars portfolio, one thing I’ve learned from my experience is that August is the strangest month for wine. First of all, it is hot and even more so this year. Secondly, it is the end of the season, and many are squeezing in the last of their summer vacations. Finally, many are preparing for the return to school, which can take up a fair amount of attention. It is no wonder that out of all the months, August is like a Sunday. So to make things easy, I’ve selected a dozen wines to try to beat the heat and doldrums of the Dog Days of Summer with recommendations for the beach, for your end-of-summer cookouts, and finally, dependable wines that punch above their class to be enjoyed throughout the month.

Four Wines for the Beach

While a leisurely outing at the beach inspired these selections, there is no reason they cannot be enjoyed whenever you find yourself outside in August. Take them camping, boating, or picnicking. These are thirst-quenching wines with juicy acidity and brightness that will shimmer like the sunlight bouncing off the water. Interestingly, all are deeply connected to the ocean by proximity or the soils in which they originate.

Armorica – The Refresher

Armorica Wine Bottle

A wine masterminded by our very own Jon-David Headrick and blended at the cellars of Famille Lieubeau, Armorica comes from vineyards close to the Atlantic Ocean, where Brittany meets the Nantais. As one might expect from its proximity to the cold waters of the Atlantic, Armorica has bracing acidity, crunchy minerality, and deftly balanced fruitiness. Combining Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris, Armorica isn’t only a great way to cool down at the beach but can be relied upon whenever you’re craving a racy white wine.

Jon-David goes into greater detail about Armorica on the Nashville Wine Duo Podcast. It starts with Armorica, but if you stick around, you can hear JD talk about his whole portfolio.

Bodegas Luis Peréz El Muelle de Olaso – The Beach in a Glass

Not only does the El Muelle de Olaso come from vineyards a few kilometers from the ocean, but the soils in which this blend of Palomino Fino, Pedro Ximénez, Mantuo & Vijiriega is sourced was created over millions of years of interaction between the land and the sea. Willy Perez of Bodegas Luis Peréz and a band of passionate young winemakers have championed a return to the traditional unfortified wines of Jerez, which values terruño as much as how the wines are aged. El Muelle is the first harvest made from the El Corregidor vineyard, showing the true character of Vino de Pasto’s tropical fruit and chalky minerality enlivened by a savory tang from 3-4 months of aging under flor. This is truly a wine whose DNA is all about the beach.

This lengthy video posted by our friends at the Sourcing Table in the UK is a thorough introduction to the revolutionary work of Willy Perez at his family’s estate. The video link begins with Willy discussing Vino de Pasto and El Muelle de Olaso. Still, the whole presentation is worth watching if you want to know the exciting changes happening in Jerez, or you love Sherry or thought Sherry wasn’t for you.

Gramona Gessami – Who needs Tiki?

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time on the Mediterranean coast of Catalunya, then you know that the local specialty isn’t only sunburned Northern Europeans but the delectably aromatic white wines that are a hallmark of the region. The finest example of this style that I’ve encountered is Gessami. This should be no surprise considering Gramona’s storied history while being a creative force promoting organic and biodynamic farming, the genius behind the garagiste project L’Enclos de Peralba, and a founding member of Corpinnat. With Gessami, they prove that pleasure needn’t come at the expense of seriousness, and this blend of Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewurztraminer is floral, stimulating, and profoundly pleasurable. After spending the afternoon at the beach, you’ll probably be eyeing up some takeout. If you’re ordering something spicy or with exotic flavors, hopefully, you saved some Gessami or bought an extra bottle.

Gramona has posted a video of Leo Gramona talking about Gessami and its connections to his family that is worth watching. If you’ve ever enjoyed Gessami, you’ll understand how this wine captures a summer flower garden in bloom and why Leo speaks about it so evocatively.

Domaine Lafage Miraflors Rosé – From Jean-Marc’s Beach to Yours

No selection of beach wines can be complete without including at least one rosé, and there is no better candidate than our best-selling rosé from Jean-Marc Lafage. Standing in the Miraflors Rosé vineyards, you can take in the sandy beaches of the Roussillon, the sun glistening off the Mediterranean, and smell the salty tang of the freshening breezes from the sea. It seems that the grapes also take on all these qualities resulting in a vibrant rosé that reveals all these sensations with a savory and herbal element from Mourvèdre, bright berry fruit from the old-vine Grenache, and a racy minerality from old-vine Grenache Gris. Miraflors Rosé also has a density despite its modest 12.5% alcohol that will carry it well through the rest of summer and into autumn, which is either still warm where you live, or Miraflors Rosé will be a vinous and welcome reminder of summer to those northerners among us.

You can watch Jean-Marc Lafage talk about Miraflors Rosé on The Extract’s channel.

Next week: Four for the Barbie, followed by Four Wines for Unwinding on August 15th.