Beat the Heat with Loire Valley Wines
As the weather in Nashville begins to heat up, most people think of breaking out the grill and cracking into a cold bottle of beer. But for the wine drinkers among us, summertime means the return of the same standard wines that, though delicious, lack that element of excitement that the warming of the weather calls for. While we know there are better options out there, sometimes we just don’t have the time to look for them. Luckily for the discerning drinker, we have you covered! France’s Loire Valley offers a wide range of wines whose bright acidity pairs perfectly with summertime heat.
Louis de Grenelle Saumur Brut Rose NV
A frankly ludicrous value, this traditional method sparkling wine from Saumur is made from 100% hand-harvested Cabernet Franc. The 24 months it spends aging on lees before disgorgement is longer than the minimum for NV Champagne (you know, the kind that would run you $50), all for a mere $20. A prime candidate for gulping all summer long, and pairing with a wide array of lighter grill fare.
Pierre Luneau-Papin “Clos des Allées” Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie 2013
Commonly confused with Moscato, this totally DRY white wine from the far western reaches of the Loire valley is made from hand-harvested Melon de Bourgogne grapes. Extended aging on lees balances the natural acidity of this Muscadet with a lovely structure and mouthfeel. Perfect for the Chardonnay drinker looking to branch out, or for pairing with that bread and herb-crusted halibut you’re serving.
Joseph Mellot Sancerre Rouge “Le Rabault” 2011
Known mostly for its bright and refreshing white wines, Sancerre is also home to a delicious selection of red wines made from Pinot Noir. This particular offering, from steep hillside vineyards planted with 30-year-old vines, offers a tantalizing balance between the acidity the Loire is known for, and the ripe cherry and currant notes that a good vintage for Loire reds can provide. If you’re grilling any kind of chicken or heavier fish this summer, this is your wine. Try serving it at cellar temperature (around 58°F) to beat the summer heat!
PAUL: I might start off the day with a dry white such as St. Urbans-Hof Leiwener Laurentiuslay Riesling 2005, then go to a terrific red for summer, 2010 Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas.
RUSH: Eberle Cote d’Robles- A great red blend with a definite French influence, but it’s domestic!
ERIC: Yazoo Summer Ale. It’s good and something different.
ROYCE: Margaritas by the pool. Made with El Jimador Gold and Triple Sec of course!
TRAVIS: Domestic Champagne. Roderer Estate because it crushes the competition at its price point, and at least two bottles because there is nothing more American than drinking multiple bottles of champagne.
MATT: Beer! Founder’s Double Trouble and Terrapin Rye Cubed – they’ll be like fireworks in my mouth!
CLAIRE: I love whiskey but I like to keep it a little lighter on the fourth, so I’ll go with a refreshing glass of Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka with lemonade and a splash of rye. Then I might switch over to Remy V during the fireworks because nothing says “I’M PATRIOTIC!” like eu de vie!
KORIE: I normally stick with red wines, but this hot weather has me drinking rosés, so I’ll go with something light and dry, like Commanderie de la Bargemone.
GLORIA: I typically go with Porters or Stouts, but on Friday I’ll be drinking New Belgium Ranger IPA – or any IPA really – because the 4th is a great day for lighter beer.
NANCY: I’ll be drinking Kentucky bourbon, perhaps in a cocktail such as a “Thoroughbred Mule” made from our Four Roses Single Barrel, Gosling’s Ginger Beer, and a splash of lime over crushed ice in a chilled glass. Very refreshing on a hot day by the lake!
NATASHA: Charles and Charles Rosé because the label is oh-so-patriotic, you’ll see stars and what could be more American than a big pink!?
Did you have a good holiday? We sure did!
The holidays may have come and gone, but the cold weather seems pretty eager to stick around. All these plummeting thermostats have the Midtown Wine and Spirits night crew thinking…what kind of wine or spirit do we all want to have on hand when Old Man Winter won’t let us leave the house?
Lou: I made a great big pot of chili to last me through the cold snap, so give me a spicy red wine -preferably a Rioja like our staff favorite Vina Eguia Crianza – and I will be a happy woman!
Ingo: It’s 40 degrees below zero up in Winnipeg, so I figure that if it’s good enough to get one through a Canadian Winter, it’s good enough for me down here in Nashville. I’d go with Caribou Crossing.
Josh: I may look tough, but I like the sweet things in life — when the weather gets chilly, you’ll find me bundled up under a blanket with a warm drink that contains a healthy dash of Whisper Creek Tennessee Sipping Cream.
Travis: In cold weather, I like to put on old records and sip on a nice cognac, or maybe some Chambord drizzled on top of ice cream – but, when it’s this chilly you can’t go wrong with an island spirit like rum — preferably some Diplomatico!
Korie: If I’m snowed in, I better be snowed in with some sparkling wine. I want to celebrate my life in style even when it’s not beach weather, so I would go with something pink and glamorous, like Mirabelle Rose!
Matt: A high proof whiskey (like Old Granddad 114!) would do the trick for me. And I wouldn’t complain about a high alcohol beer with some holiday cheer, like The Missing Elf (9.5% Alcohol).
Claire: I crave spices when the temperature drops so I’ll be curling up with my cat and a warm and toasty amaro, like Montenegro. I have been eyeing the Absolut Chicago, however, so that might be my top choice — a savory vodka with Rosemary and Olive notes sounds like a wonderful way to beat the cold — don’t forget to ice it down like a Chicagoan would: in the snow!!
Eric (our next door neighbor at the Midtown Beer and Cigar): Everyone knows that winter is the best time of year for the highest of high gravity beers – this is the perfect weather for TenFiddy!
This light, crisp and refreshing Portuguese white, which literally means “green wine”, is meant to be consumed young. It pairs extremely well with light fare including fresh herbal salads, shellfish, fish and pastas in a light olive oil sauces. Vinho Verde also makes a great choice for a light, affordable white that is easy to introduce to non-wine drinking friends and colleagues. It’s bright citrus notes and frizzante effervescence make vinho verde an ideal candidate for sipping on the back porch and relaxing in late summer or fall. Try pouring on the rocks with a splash of St. Germain Elderflower liqueur and a lime wedge.
Famega Vinho Verde – $9.99
Love Pinot? Try Dão Wines…
The Dão region on Portugal’s western coast has been producing wines for centuries, but as of recently (the 1970s), their wines, outside of Port production, have been simply known as declassified red wines. Since Portugal’s admittance into the European Union, new regulations have increased the care given to grapes and determination from winemakers to have these Portuguese wines compete in the world marketplace. One such wine is the Callabriga Dåo Red. With its density and body similar to that of an Oregon Pinot Noir, spice and tannic structure in the same vein of a Spanish Tempranillo and the finish of a hearty California Merlot, this wine is surely one to try going into the cooler months of this year. If you’re a Pinot or tempranillo fan, this is definitely one for you. Slate soils, cool Atlantic winds, French & Portuguese oak, along with old world production methods make the Callabriga Dão, a wine in a world of its own.
Callabriga Dão Red – $16.99
Although Portugal is known for its Port wines, there are a few hot commodities coming out of the country that could rival Spanish Reservas or Southern Italian relics like the Aglianico. The Quinta Do Crasto Reserva Old Wine Red is a stunning example of what the Douro Valley has to offer. Stretching through western Spain across the Northeast region of Portugal, the Douro river and valley offer temperate climates, long days and cool Mediterranean nights. These attributes along with steep valley slopes and slate in the soil offer depths of flavor to this unique wine not found anywhere else in the world. The Quinta Do Crasto Reserva is a field blend, from an average of 70 year old vines, comprised of a large array of grape varietals exhibiting a strong tannic structure that can stand up to a variety of different food accompaniments. Receiving a 94-point rating from Wine Enthusiast, this wine can be enjoyed now or cellared til 2023.
Quinta Do Crasto Old Vine Red Reserva 2009 – $49.99