You're here to admire the flowers and relax in each other's company, not critique wines. And simplicity can be delicious. Pour something as fresh and fragrant as the surroundings.
Cramele Reca’s impressive values range from the honeydew-juicy and grapefruit-bright Dreamfish Sauvignon Blanc to the Dreambird Pinot Noir, thirst-quenchingly light with cherries and spice. Reca, which dates to 1447, is now owned by Englishman Philip Cox. He replanted its 1,730 acres and brought in Australian Hartley Smithers (of Yellowtail fame) and Nora Iriate of Spain to assist Florin Voloaca in the cellar.
2010 Viile Timisului Dreamfish Sauvignon Blanc
(88 | $7 | 6/12)
2010 Viile Timisului Dreambird Pinot Noir (87 | $7 | 6/12)
Tri-Vin Imports, Mount Vernon, NY
Skouras’s Moschofilero has the florals to turn your garden into a peach orchard in full bloom; the Zoe Rosé—moschofilero with a shot of agiorgitiko, is as bright as a fuchsia and honeysuckle-fragrant. George Skouras studied in Dijon before returning home to Greece’s Peloponnese, where he focuses on agiorgitiko, Nemea’s defining variety, and moschofilero, the grape of nearby Mantinia.
2010 Peloponnese Roditis-
Moschofilero (87 | $9 | 8/11)
2010 Peloponnese Zoe (87 | $12 | 8/11)
Diamond Importers, Chicago, IL
Beni di Batasiolo makes a floral, almond-inflected Gavi to pour with your ricotta stuffed squash blossoms, and Dolcetto d’Alba that’s a casual red for your Festa al Giardino. The firm may have made its name with ageworthy Barolos, but these young, fruit-driven wines are exceptional values, as is the 2010 Moscato d’Asti Bosc Dla Rei to end the evening.
2010 Dolcetto d’Alba (85 | $13 | 12/11)
2010 Moscato d’Asti Bosc Dla Rei
(84 | $15 | 12/11)
Boisset America, San Francisco, CA
AFTER THE FOURTH
If you barbecue a lot through the summer—twice a week or more—you need a stock of barbecue wines on hand, from brands that will cover everything from calamari and prawns to major carnivore nights.
Courtney Benham, who also owns the Martin Ray label, has the wines. He focused his eponymous brand around small lots of varieties not available in the larger Martin Ray portfolio—often just a few tons of things like malbec or gewürztraminer sourced from Martin Ray’s regular growers. The varieties, regions and vineyard sources change from year to year, and most of the wines are produced in case-runs of 1,000 or less.
NV Napa Valley Lucca Red Wine (87 | $13 | 2/12)
2010 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc (85 | $11 | 2/12)
Martin Ray Winery, Santa Rosa, CA
Louis Bernard, based in Gigondas, offers value-priced wines for anything you can toss onto the grill. Check out their bright Côtes du Rhône with chicken; the darker Côtes du Rhône Villages with a steak, and the brisk white Château Noël St-Laurent with shrimp on a skewer.
2009 Côtes du Rhône Blanc Ch. Noël St-Laurent
(88 | $12 | 10/11)
2009 Côtes du Rhône Villages (86 | $13 | 10/11)
Boisset Family Estates, Sausalito, CA
Yalumba’s Y Series includes three great quaffs for $13 and under, the vibrant 2009 Shiraz-Viognier ready for a pig roast. Hill Smiths founded Yalumba 1849 and still own and run it today, their Y Series earning them a consistent spot on our Value Brands list.
2009 South Australia The Y Series Shiraz Viognier (89 | $13 | 10/11)
2010 South Australia The Y Series Chardonnay (89 | $12 | 2/12)
Negociants USA, Napa, CA
A Sunday morning in June, your daughter’s headed off on her honeymoon, and all your friends are still in town, a little baked after partying late last night. A crisp, light Vinho Verde, Muscadet or sparkling wine will brighten everyone’s mood.
Quinta da Aveleda’s fresh and fruity 2010 will brighten freshly shucked oysters or a leek and potato tart. Aveleda grows all the grapes for that quinta wine in Penafiel, northeast of Porto, one of the greatest estate-grown values in the world at $9 a bottle. Buy a case and chill it on ice.
2010 Vinho Verde Quinta da Aveleda (92 | $9 | 8/11)
2010 Vinho Regional Minho Alvarinho
(90 | $13 | 8/11)
FJN Fine Wines LLC, Cumberland, RI
la Pepière hand
harvests its old-vine 2010 Clos des Briords for your East Coast oysters; try the supple 2010 Sur Lie for the creamier West Coast selections.
2010 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Les Gras
Moutons Sur Lie (91 | $17 | 4/12)
2010 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Clos des
Briords Vieilles Vignes (90 | $18 | 4/12)
Louis/Dressner Selections, NY
Törley has specialized in sparkling wines since 1882 at its base just outside Budapest, Hungary. Ease into afternoon with the gentle, fruity bubbles of Etyek Gála Sec, or pour the leesy, dry Hungaria Grande Cuvée Brut with eggs Benedict.
Etyek Gála Sec (87 | $13 | 6/12)
Etyek Hungaria Grande Cuvée Brut
(86 | $16 | 6/12)
Blue Danube Wine Co., Los Altos Hills, CA
Jaume Serra’s Brut Nature Cristalino is as crisp and refreshing as a Granny Smith apple, a Cava from the mountains of Garraf, 30 miles south of Barcelona. It’s consistently one of the best buys in sparkling wine.
2007 Cava Brut Nature Cristalino
(91 | $15 | 8/11)
NV Cava Brut Cristalino (88 | $10 | 8/11)
CIV (USA), Sacramento, CA
Perhaps your cook-out plans are more ambitious, orchestrating a pig roast or a whole baby lamb on a spit. We found plenty of reds to bring along.
Charles Smith Wines are ready when you’re set to spit-roast lamb, particularly his Boom Boom! Syrah, uncannily complex considering the $15 price tag. Smith (instantly identifiable thanks to his big hair and heavy metal tee shirts), also collaborates with Charles Bieler of Three Thieves in their Charles & Charles wine.
2010 Washington State Boom Boom! Syrah
(90 | $15 | 2/12)
2010 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah
(87 | $12 | 6/12)
Charles Smith Wines, Walla Walla, WA
Cantine Colosi If you’ve stuffed your suckling pig with fennel, thyme and rosemary, pull out Cantine Colosi’s wines from Sicily. The ’09 Nerello Mascalese, fermented in stainless steel, is floral with its bright and thirst-quenching acidity; the Rosso is darker and smokier, a wine for pork ribs.
2009 Sicilia Nerello Mascalese (90 | $17 | 6/12)
2009 Sicilia Rosso (85 | $13 | 6/12)
Vias Imports, NY
Michel Chapoutier has run his family’s 208-year-old estate in France’s Rhône Valley since he was 26, in 1990. His Luberon La Ciboise has the vibrant black cherry flavor and firm tannins to match the crispy bits of pork snuck while the carvers aren’t looking.
2009 Luberon La Ciboise (90 | $17 | 2/12)
2010 Côtes du Rhône Belleruche Blanc (88 | $13 | 2/12)
Terlato Wines Int’l., Lake Bluff, IL
Every Argentine seems to have a master’s degree in how to grill meat for their famous asados and, of course, they will always tell you that the best wine to go with that is malbec. In fact, plenty of Spanish and Italian reds will match it as well.
Pico Maccario’s Chiaretto, a rosato of barbera and freisa, is set to chill while you fire up the grill. When the meats are ready to serve, the lush, peppery fruit of the Lavignone Barbera d’Asti will match the entire range. Then end on a sweet note, with the light, airy Dolcevita Moscato d’Asti.
2010 Barbera d’Asti Lavignone (88 | $17 | 12/11)
2008 Monferrato Rosso Cantamerli
(87 | $17 | 12/11)
Massanois Imports, Washington, DC
McManis produces malbec at its family vineyard at the confluence of the San Joaquin and Stanislaus rivers, where they farm 2,600 acres along the edges of California’s Central Valley. Their 2010 Malbec is fresh and firmly structured for your own Argentine asado.
2010 California Malbec (87 | $11 | 4/12)
2010 California Petite Sirah (87 | $11 | 4/12)
McManis Family Winery, Ripon, CA
Virgen del Aguila is one of the main forces in Cariñena, Spain, their structured Reservas have plenty of meat on them as well as mature notes that bring a touch of elegance to any cookout.
2004 Cariñena Reserva Señorio del Aguila
(91 | $18 | 10/11)
2002 Cariñena Reserva Señorio del Aguila
(89 | $18 | 10/11)
Hand Picked Selections, Warrenton, VA
Zuccardi, located in Maipú, Mendoza, is a family winery with a wide portfolio of high-end malbecs, as well as plenty of values to cut the fat of your rib eye, like the 2010 Serie A Malbec.
2010 Malbec Mendoza Serie A
(88 | $15 | 10/11)
2010 Malbec Mendoza Reserva Santa Julia
(86 | $12 | 10/11)
Winesellers, Skokie, IL
Marqués de Cáceres, like most good Rioja, is made to drink with baby lamb chops grilled over vine cuttings. The Riojanas have spent the better part of two millennia perfecting a wine to go with those chops. The Fornier family at Cáceres took a French approach to this challenge, having crossed the Pyrenees to Bordeaux for a time before returning to settle in Rioja Alta’s Cenicero, where they produce great values in Rioja from grapes grown in town.
2007 Rioja Crianza (90 | $15 | 12/11)
2010 Rosé Rioja (GV | $9 | 12/11)
Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL
Ontañon’s red-fruited 2007 Crianza is your choice if your asado involves grilling a butterflied leg of lamb, studded with sprigs of fresh rosemary and slivers of garlic, marinated in olive oil and fired to a crisp char on the outside. Ontañon farms more than 600 acres of estate vineyards in Rioja, including some high altitude sites, providing all the fruit for this juicy Crianza.
2007 Rioja Crianza (92 | $14 | 12/11)
2008 Viura Rioja Vetiver (87 | $13 | 12/11)
Pinnacle Wine Vault, NY
Zuazo Gaston, based in Rioja Alavesa, makes a cool, lime-scented Rioja Blanco if you plan to serve a summery salad of pulpo a la Gallega before you break out the lamb. The Zuazo family farms 128 acres of vines in Oyon, where they grow the Vendimia Seleccionada to match the grilled chops.
2010 Rioja Blanco (92 | $14 | 12/11)
2009 Rioja Vendimia Seleccionada
(88 | $11 | 12/11)
Polaner Selections, Mount Kisco, NY
FOOD TRUCK SIGHTING
You’re on the twitter feed for your favorite food trucks; you keep a set of foldout chairs, napkins and glasses in the trunk; your corkscrew’s in the glove compartment…
Georg Albrecht Schneider’s Niersteiner Paterberg Kabinett is hard to beat when it comes to elegance and mineral complexity for $14; the ’09 Dornfelder is also mouthwatering in its bright fruit. Find your favorite truck serving lobster rolls and you’ll have all your bases covered.
2010 Rheinhessen Niersteiner Paterberg Riesling Kabinett
(90 | $14 | 12/11)
2009 Rheinhessen Dornfelder QbA Trocken (88 | $13 | 12/11)
Winesellers, Niles, IL
Finca El Peral’s unoaked Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc should be at the ready for shrimp tacos and guacamole; for barbacoa, uncork the Reserva Red from 70-year-old vineyards growing at 3,609 feet in Tupungato.
2008 Tupungato Reserva Red (90 | $13 | 6/12)
2011 Chardonnay Tupungato (88 | $13 | 6/12)
Catamarca Imports, Atlanta, GA
Stone Cap grows at Goose Ridge, a vast estate vineyard near Red Mountain, where the Monson family farms 1,500 acres planted to ten varieties. You’ll not find a more affordable estate wine in Washington State. Keep the syrah and merlot on hand for Korean taco truck sightings; they have the heft for short rib tacos or a kim-cheesesteak.
2010 Columbia Valley Syrah
(88 | $8 | 2/12)
2009 Columbia Valley Estate Merlot
(87 | $8 | 12/11)
Goose Ridge Vineyards, Benton City, WA
Pacific Rim’s riesling is ready for a night by your favorite spicy Thai or pork dumpling truck. The brand, founded by Randall Grahm, was snapped up by Banfi Vintners in 2011, now expanding to include a varietally spot-on and delicious chenin blanc.
2008 Columbia Valley Chenin
Blanc (90 | $11 | 4/12)
2010 Columbia Valley Sweet
Riesling (90 | $11 | 4/12)
Pacific Rim, Richland, WA
Kourtaki has become one of Greece’s most popular brands on the strength of its easy-going Vin de Crete, restrainedly piney Retsina or Kouros, a light red made from agiorgitiko—a terrific red for souvlaki. Over the years, Kourtaki has been a consistent member of our Value Brand list.
Mavrodaphne of Patras
(88 | $14 | 8/11)
2007 Nemea Kouros
(87 | $14 | 8/11)
Nestor Imports, NY
Forstreiter is the wine for fried chicken—for what is fried chicken but the American version of schnitzel? Try the crisp, herbal 2010 Kremser Kögl or the juicy, spicy Zvy-gelt, the red sibling of their Grooner. Based in Kremstal, 45-year-old Meinhard Forstreiter is regarded as one of the region’s most promising winemakers, presiding over 63 sustainably farmed acres.
2009 Niederosterreich Zvy-gelt Zweigelt (90 | $12 | 4/12)
2010 Niederosterreich Kremser Kögl Grüner Veltliner
(83 | $15 | 4/12)
Monika Caha Selections/Frederick Wildman and Sons, NY
Mancura’s Gran Reserva 2009, a blend of syrah, cabernet franc and merlot, is one of the least expensive cool-climate reds you’ll find at such a high level of quality. It’s made by Morandé, a Casablanca Valley pioneer, and it’s ready for the porchetta truck—or whatever meaty goodness drives down the street.
2009 Casablanca Valley Gran Reserva (91 | $10 | 6/12)
2010 Maipo Valley Guardian Reserva Carmenère
(88 | $11 | 6/12)
Morande USA, Atlanta, GA