BBQ season has arrived... The shorts are on, and the meat is marinading, so what to drink. And more importantly how to drink it? What should be in the fridge and not in the fridge?
The idea of summer wines is not really a concept that I favour. Don’t get me wrong I totally get the appeal of sitting in my local garden, overlooking the beach promenade in Nice or in stunning Cornwall with a chilled glass of white wine surrounded by friends and family. Obviously, it’s not the idea of drinking wine in the summer that rubs me the wrong way and anyone who has been to one of my events or follows me on Instagram might have an idea of what I am going to say next.
All wines are for drinking all year round.
Again, I see why clever marketing and the nature of the wine itself have made white, rosé, and sparkling wine the choice for al fresco summery gatherings, celebrations, and events.
However, I would like to propose a much broader, you might even say adventurous or at least more open minded approach. Don’t limit yourself and your taste buds to the same range of wine all summer. As I have often shared, my wife and I keep a bottle of Tawny Port in the fridge most of the year round.
Exploring summer wines, the Lunzer way is like the season itself, all about the right temperature. So, with that in mind, have a look at my wine list for the summer - just in time for the season with Ascot, Wimbledon, Henley, posh picnics, graduation celebrations, weddings or chilled out time with friends around the BBQ.
Summer in pink
I am not going to bore you with the same old story again about my previous embarrassment about being caught with a glass of pink wine in my hand.
I now drink rosé with great pleasure and see why this pink hued wine with refreshing, fruit-forward style has surged in popularity in recent years and almost has become synonymous with summer.
My favourite AIX 2022 Provence sells out often and I chatted a bit about how the wine maker Eric Kurver came late to the table but stole the name AIX from under the local's noses. (part of the Latin name for a Mandarin Duck!)
I am not certain how much time should be devoted to selecting Rosé but following extensive tastings I always come back to AIX!
We discovered a long time ago that brands attract eccentric attention, and it may be that AIX will one day similarly fall victim of its own popularity and follow the price path of Sacha Lichine's Whispering Angel.
Until then, I believe this wine to one of the most delicious alternatives at a still sensible price…For those with a particular thirst, we always aim to have AIX Magnums in stock and bigger bottles available on request!
Note on the temperature:
As cold as you prefer. It is not the least expensive rosé on the market, but the real test of a great rosé wine is that, like this one, it should not need to be chilled to within an inch of its life to be drinkable...!
Champagne and sparkling wine go down incredibly well at all events and put a smile on people’s faces. Let’s go for Magnums to double the joy.
The sparkling wines of the UK are without doubt, capable of being 'World Class' and Nyetimber Classic Cuvee, MV, especially the Magnum shows 'in spades', what happens to great fizz with a bit of bottle age! It is also very well known that wines stored in Magnum mature more slowly than in bottle and this Cuvee remains beautifully fresh, 13 years on...
Always remember that we have the same meager climate as Champagne and many of our still wines are challenged by the average sunshine hours of a British Summer! But the addition of sugar for the second fermentation changes the goal posts, as it does in France, and the results are genuinely delicious...
Speaking of French, I would never hesitate to bring a bottle of Champagne Pol Roger, Brut Réserve, NV to one of my posh picnics (ideally paired with delicious food from one of our collaborators The Canapé Box).
There is no doubt that Sir Winston Churchill knew a thing or two about imbibing and his friendship with the glamorous Odette Pol Roger must have helped his choice of fizz for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
I have always been a huge fan of the Brut Réserve which is a blend in equal parts of the three champenois grape varieties: pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay. As mentioned on several occasions, my wife and I served Magnums at our wedding.
This House, like Bollinger, also holds a Royal Warrant: By Appointment to HRH Queen Elisabeth II - it will be interesting to see if King Charles III takes it on as one of his!
Or I have a feeling that Nyetimber might have charmed him with the beautiful Coronation livery on bottles of Nyetimber MV - exceptional value for money for a stunning fizz.
Note on the temperature: Bring out the ice bucket.
Fresh, crisp and a straight from the fridge, a bottle of white wine is an ode to the summer.
A firm favourite of mine is Kumeu Village Chardonnay, 2021, New Zealand and there should always be a bottle in the fridge - just in case...
The Puligny Montrachets of New Zealand is how many critics have described these wines from Kumeu River. This Village Chardonnay is one of four Chardonnays in New Zealand producer by Michael Brajkovich MW, founder of Kumeu River. Michael coincidentally, was the first person in New Zealand to qualify as a 'Master of Wine'.
His wines have shot to fame largely we believe, because of the imitation of Burgundian wine making skills and techniques which he has mastered to perfection, to work in his environment and micro climates....
Altano Branco (White) Reserva 2020 is a blend of essentially three grape varieties grown in the Douro Valley - Viosinho, Gouveio and Rabigato - none particularly well known outside Portugal but the combination is sensational.
Altano is a brand owned by the world-famous Symington family, who owns six major Port Houses including Dow's, Grahams, and Warres under their company name, Symington Family Estates. They are now the largest vineyard owner in the Douro Valley with nearly 1,000 hectares split between 26 vineyards
Etienne Guigal Côte du Rhône Blanc 2021
From this illustrious producer in the Rhone, a gorgeously complex but refreshing white wine. Spectacularly underrated in my opinion and unusually versatile with or without food and in all seasons. For those who feel the need to know, the blend is: 60% Viognier, 15% Roussanne, 10% Marsanne, 8 % Clairette, 5% Bourboulenc, 2% Grenache blanc
(Cotes du Rhone producers are allowed to use up to 15 grape varieties in their Reds!)
A note on temperature:
Drink it chilled, straight from the fridge.
On a side note, my wife puts ice cubes to keep her white wine cold. Don’t get me started…
Red for the meat
I often start with a glass of white, sparkling or rosé, however when the meat is sizzling on the BBQ it is time to tuck into the red. The meat deserves red.
Meerlust Estate Red 2019, Stellenbosch, South Africa. Is his is a seriously well-balanced drop of wine with great fruit masking balanced acidity & silky tannins - forget the poetry, you just need to try this one...
BBQ wines may not need to be expensive since food flavours can be strong once the coals have shared their magic. We do however feel that the wines should be exquisite, ie. great value for money and this fit neatly into that category.
Château Landat, 2018, Haut Medoc, Cru Bourgeois
From the same stable as Château Lamothe Cissac, this Haut Medoc is another gorgeous example of a ripe and possibly 'Pauillac' style without the price tag. Benefiting from an hour in a decanter this wine can be consumed now, despite its youth but will continue to soften and please for at least the next 5 years.
These bottles and the Magnums of their 2016 make regular appearances at home and we feel that the value is genuinely outstanding. So, it comes as no surprise that this wine features on my summer menu.
Note on the temperature:
The trick to drinking red wine in the summer is to make sure it’s got the right temperature. Red wine above 20 degrees is not good for anyone. While this is always essential, it’s a bit more of a challenge to keep it right when the temperature soars in the hotter months. Don’t be embarrassed to stick the red in a bucket of ice for a minute and a half to get it so ideally 16-18 degrees.
Warre's Otima 10-year-old is sublime at any time of the year. Despite a reputation of being a winter drink, the Portuguese drink a reasonable amount of Tawny, especially the British in Portugal all year. So do we…
It is especially lovely as a cheeky thimble from the fridge, as a great way to round off supper...
Tawny Port is far less toxic than young Ruby or Vintage Port... its 10 years maturing in wood takes away many of the more corrosive elements naturally present in Port and leaves a soft and gentle alternative which really cannot be blamed for the hangover...
Note on the temperature:
Served chilled and sometimes referred to as 'mouthwash'! We always keep a bottle in fridge.
Conlculsion: Stick to what you love and choose the menu around it... just remember to keep the reds at an old fashioned room temperature 18 to 20 c should do it!