Summer Wines

by Terry Thompson-Anderson

Although rosé wines can be enjoyed all year long, summer is the perfect time for their crisp, fruity flavors, which range from slightly sweet to very dry. Not to be confused with pink wines in the category known as “blush” wines, rosés are almost always made from red wine grapes. In Texas, a wide range of grape varietals are being used to make stellar rosés, and not many people know exactly how food-friendly they are. Here’s what we’re pairing with our favorite al fresco summer foods, sipping with snacks by the pool and packing into picnic lunches. (And we’ve tossed in a couple of bonus dry whites that are also perfect for our scorching Texas summer.) Remember to serve all of these treasures well chilled.

Becker Vineyards Provençal Rosé—This rosé is one of the oldest produced in Texas (first produced in 1998) and a good example of a true, very dry, French rosé-style wine. A floral wine with a deceptively sweet aroma of strawberries with nuances of tropical fruit on the palate, it has a residual sugar level of only one-half percent. Produced predominantly from Mourvèdre grapes, this wine has a crisp bite and pairs well with light and spicy foods like those from the interior of Mexico; simply cooked fish and shellfish; or slightly heavier foods like pasta with meat and a bit of spice.

Alexander Vineyards 2013 Bordeaux Rosé—Since Alexander Vineyards, a new Texas winery, is producing French wines in France, this is an actual French rosé. Made from 60 percent cabernet sauvignon and 40 percent merlot, this wine has a rich, deep color and is very dry. It has a great nose of luscious red fruit and is very rich on the palate. Pair it with ceviche, campechana or chilled seafood salads. It’s also great with grilled foods and Texas barbecue.

William Chris Cinsault Rosé —This is another Texas rosé made in the dry, French style. Made from 100 percent cinsault grapes from the Texas High Plains, it has a crisp, honeysuckle aroma with mid-palate hints of satsuma and very ripe peach. Hints of lime on the finish make it a perfect pairing for seafood and shellfish dishes and light interior Mexican dishes. This is a great sipping wine.

Lewis Wines Swim Spot—This is an uncomplicated, refreshingly crisp white wine that is the essence of Texas summer and perfect for sipping. Who could resist a wine with a name like this in the summer? The blend is predominantly blanc du bois from the East Texas vineyards of Enochs Stomp winery, and will be a favorite of those who like the Portuguese Vinho Verde-style wines. Swim Spot is crisp on the palate with lemony citrus notes and a slight effervescence. This summer’s blend is 92 percent blanc du bois and 8 percent muscat canelli, giving it just a hint of sweetness, but not too much. Pair with your favorite chilled shellfish dishes, such as shrimp remoulade, or salads with tangy vinaigrette dressing.

Brennan Vineyards Austin Street Comanche Rosé 2012—This wine is produced from 32 percent viognier, 27 percent roussanne, 13 percent chenin blanc and 6 percent grenache blanc from Newburg Vineyards in Comanche County and Reddy Vineyards, in the Texas High Plains. With such a kitchen sink-style blend, one might think this would be a heavy wine, but it’s surprisingly light-bodied. The light-pink wine has a crisp acidity balanced with just a hint of sweetness, making it perfect as a summer aperitif—or serve it with your favorite slightly spicy summer foods.

Pedernales Cellars Texas Dry Rosé 2014—This tempranillo-Mourvèdre blend from Bingham Vineyards in the Texas High Plains is produced in a dry rosé-style and fermented, well chilled, in stainless steel to highlight the fruity aromatics of the varietals. The color is a stunning shade of deep pink, and the aromas of cherry, honey, butter and pear follow through on the palate. The finish is subtle—tapering off to a unique crispy note, making it a perfect pairing for salads, seafood (chilled, ceviche-style or cooked simply) and even light desserts.

Lost Draw Cellars Viognier 2014—This is a first release of this varietal from one of Texas’ newest wineries, made by partner Andy Timmons, from 100 percent High Plains fruit, which lends a hint of that Texas minerality to a varietal already known for its dryness. It has notes of grapefruit and citrus on the nose, which follow through on the palate with a hint of spice. Savor this wine with sushi, salads, shellfish dishes, simple fish preparations, spicy food, Mexican or Thai food or anything with black beans. It’s perfect to serve with soft cheeses, blue-veined cheeses, brie and especially Texas goat cheeses.