Got vacation plans this summer? Even if you don’t intend to leave your backyard, you (and your taste buds) can easily travel abroad through the wines you drink.
Summer wines should be thirst-quenching, light, and pair well with the fresh produce and grill-worthy fare that star in the cookouts of the season. Many varietals fall under this banner, but some of the most popular are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, rosé, sparkling wine, and everyone’s new favorite red, Pinot Noir.
People tend to reflexively reach for their preferred brands of these wines, but that’s a shame. Wine drinking gives you the chance to explore the world, armed with nothing more than a corkscrew and a glass. So, forget your go-to wines for now and discover some new summer wines from some unusual places.
The new Sauvignon Blanc comes from South Africa
Beloved for its crispness and green fruit flavors, Sauvignon Blanc has come a long way from its roots in France’s Loire Valley. This varietal’s broad popularity in America began with Robert Mondavi’s oaky efforts in California (marketed as Fumé Blanc) in the early 1970s and continued when New Zealand’s zingy Sauvignon Blancs hit the market in the late 1980s. Those wines are still delicious, but today, some of the most interesting new Sauvignon Blancs hail from South Africa.
Home to one of the most ecologically diverse and starkly beautiful wine-growing regions on the planet, South Africa is producing Sauvignon Blancs that express a rainbow of flavors, from flinty to fruit laden, depending on the microclimate of the grapes. Some of the best wines, made at the continent’s southern tip where the sprays of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans crash together, seem to offer a taste of sea air along with their lime and green apple freshness. These wines are beautiful matched with any fish dish you can dream up.
10 Summer Wines from Unexpected Places
2009 Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc, Western Cape ($19) Kiwi, wet stone, and gooseberry flavors combine to make a delicate and silky wine with perfectly balanced acidity.
2010 Springfield “Life from Stone” Sauvignon Blanc, Robertson ($18) Mouthwatering with juicy gooseberry and lime flavors, this wine shows off Sauvignon Blanc’s racy side.
2009 Attilio Contini Rosato della Valle del Tirso, Sardinia ($11) Bright and pink, this wine delivers strawberry and watermelon flavors tinged with hibiscus. It’s made from Sardinia’s native Nieddera grapes.
2010 Montenidoli Rosato di Canaiuolo IGT, San Gimignano ($20) Wonderfully delicate and pale in color, this utterly gulpable wine is a floral wonderland with a refreshing citrusy finish.
2007 Maycas del Limarí Reserva Especial Chardonnay, Limarí Valley ($20) This wine has stunning power mixed with great minerality and citrus flavor. Any Limarí Valley Chardonnay from this producer will be excellent.
2009 Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay, Limarí Valley ($18) With tropical flavors and a zingy backbone of acidity, this wine appeals to those who don’t mind a bit of oak.
2004 Yering Station Yarrabank Cuvée sparkling wine, Yarra Valley ($14) Apple, pear, and wet stone flavors combine in one of the world’s greatest values in high-quality sparkling wine.
Nonvintage Jansz sparkling rosé, Tasmania ($16) This delicate, dry, pink bubbly is easy to love (and to drink) thanks to its bright melon and berry flavors.
2007 Craggy Range Zebra Vineyard Pinot Noir, Central Otago ($30) Sour cherry, plum, and wet wood flavors mix in this juicy wine, and bright acidity keeps it lively through its long finish.
2008 Peregrine Pinot Noir, Central Otago ($25) A dark ruby gem, this wine smells of sweet plums and offers a mix of cranberry and raspberry flavors, with a hint of herbs and spice.