The Top 10 Wines for Summer 2020
Summertime, and the drinkin’s easy, or at least it should be. Following up on our Top 10 Wines for Winter, 2020 edition, we’re looking back at our recent reviews to pick out our 10 favorite bottlings for warm weather drinking. From cool whites to high-acid reds (think pinot) to summery sparklers, there’s a little something on this list for anyone who finds themselves with an empty glass while face to face with a beach, a boat, or a porch swing.
Let’s get started! (Note: All prices are based on the most recently available market prices.) Check Total Wine and Wine.com for the best deals on all of these picks!
1. 2017 Three Sticks Pinot Noir Sonoma Mountain Cuvee Eva Marie – Arguably my favorite wine of the season. This balanced pinot noir is silky and on the dense side, showcasing a blend of fruit, earth, and spice on the nose and the palate. A bit of balsamic character makes it heavier than most summery pinots, but the overwhelming fruit makes it hard to put down. $90 -CN
2. 2012 Fontanafredda Contessa Rosa Rose Alta Langa DOCG – One of the most unusual wines I’ve encountered this year, here’s a sparkling rose from Piedmont, made from 80% pinot noir and 20% chardonnay, with a splash of 1967 Barolo in the blend. Unlike any other sparkler you’ll sample. $58 -CN
3. 2018 Lucky Rock Pinot Noir County Cuvee – When is summer drinking at its best? When it’s cheap. This affordable pinot is a blend of several regions, its bright fruit and zippy acidity only the prelude to a crisp, lightly floral finish. Outstanding value. $22 -CN
4. 2017 Inniskillin Riesling – Germany made headlines this year when its ice wine harvest failed for the first time in recorded history. Good news is that they still have ice in Canada, and this peachy, lemony, nutty ice-riesling is an amazing example of the style — ultra-sweet, sultry, and tough to put down. $70 (375ml) -CN
5. 2018 Pfendler Pinot Noir Petaluma Gap – One of the best unknown wine brands in Sonoma, Pfendler’s 2018 pinot is rich and immersive, much like its prior bottlings, full of summery fruit with hints of vanilla and chocolate in the mix. Delightfully approachable, yet plenty complex. $55 -CN
6. NV Champagne Henriot Blancs de Blancs – An iconic Champagne from Henriot — 100% chardonnay, and lightly nutty with notes of lemon, apple, and almond, the classic elements of the style and an all-around winner. $55 -CN
7. 2018 Chalk Hill Sauvignon Blanc Chalk Hill AVA – Sauvignon blanc doesn’t get much love these days, but Chalk Hill’s 2018 deftly blends the grassy California style with the tropical fruit of New Zealand. A go-to bottling that’s not outrageously expensive. $33 -CN
8. 2018 Casal Garcia Vinho Verde – An unbeatable value at $5 or $6, and it’s widely available. Fresh, citrusy, and slightly bubbly, it’s the ultimate pool wine. I am almost embarrassed when people ask what it costs, but the quality carries the day. $6 -RL
9. 2016 Domaine Carneros Ultra Brut – This minimally-sweetened sparkler from California’s Domaine Carneros has a mere 0.5 grams of sugar/liter in it, making it one of the driest sparkling wines you’re likely to encounter anywhere. Big green apple melds beautifully with touches of almond paste, and the finish is all acidity. $46 -CN
10. NV Croft Pink Rose Port – The original rose Port is still a delight, working wonderfully as a cold aperitif or as a base for a lighter style of cocktail. On its own, it’s heavy with berries but also hints at its traditional roots, with a bit of chocolate in the mix. $18 -CN
Additional reporting by Robert Lublin.
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