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Grape Expectations: The best summer wines for when you know nothing about wine
The Handbook / Culture / Our easy, low-key wine picks: June

Our easy, low-key wine picks: June

Grape Expectations: The best summer wines for when you know nothing about wine

Words— Marc Richardson

With summer around the corner, we're getting ready to sit back on a terrace and relax with a little adult beverage. Not that we don’t do that during the winter, fall and spring, too—but in the summer months, it’s as much about drinking something refreshing as anything else. So, what are we drinking that’s keeping us cool—both literally and figuratively—as the weather starts heating up and as parasols start opening up to shade us from the sun? We’re glad you asked!

 

 

 

Domaine Barmès Buecher, Trilogie d’Alsace, 2017

 

After trying this for the first time last summer, I was hooked. Barmès Buecher is quite well-known in biodynamic wine circles, and you’re likely to find some of the producer’s more expensive products on wine lists in restaurants and wine bars.

 

This particular wine is kind of like a greatest hits. The name, “Trilogie” refers to the fact that it’s a mixture of pinot gris, pinot blanc and riesling and, quite frankly, you really get the best of the three. It’s very dry and crisp. It’s also kind of funky—it is a biodynamic wine, after all—but not to the point that would turn off most people.

 

It’s a tad effervescent when you first open it. Really, the only downside is that it’s not super consistent. The taste evolves a lot between when the bottle is opened and when it’s finished and different bottles have taste noticeably different. Still, it drinks best when it’s barely chilled, so it’s a great last-minute option and you don’t need to refrigerate it for hours and hours before. It’s great alone or with food—anything from pork to pasta to fish to light cheese.

 

And, best of all, you’ll be paying under $22 for it!

 

Available at the SAQ. Other wines from the same producer are available at the SAQ and the LCBO.

 

 

 

 

Dominio de Punctum, 20000 Leguas, 2018

 

Chances are if you’ve been to a restaurant or a wine bar in the past 24 to 36 months, you’ve noticed an ever-growing section of “orange wine” on wine lists. While not necessarily new, orange wine is increasingly popular: it’s refreshing and offers a unique taste, all while being an attractive organic option. But it’s still pretty hard to come by outside of restaurants and when it is available for purchase, it’s usually quite expensive—in the $35-55 range.

 

So, when this orange wine popped up at the SAQ for under $20, it was hard to pass up the opportunity to try it. It turns out, though, that there’s a good reason for orange wine being so expensive—what you get for $20 doesn’t really measure up what you get in a restaurant.

 

To say that this wine is orange is a little misleading—it’s really more of a dark, burnt yellow and it doesn’t have the same cloudy consistency. It’s definitely doesn’t taste like most other orange wines, either. It’s tart and acidic and tastes more like sour apple juice than skin contact wine. It’s really like a heavy white—which might be your thing, who knows!

 

But, if you’re looking for orange wine, this is less of a recommendation and more of a reminder that sometimes, it’s better to pass on something.

 

Available at the SAQ.

 

 

 

 

Maison B Perraud, Le P’tit Poquelin, 2017

 

When it comes to summer, we tend to focus on white, rosé and orange wine. They’re served chilled and tend to be comparatively light. Finding a good, refreshing red wine that’s suitable for summer is a challenge—and this is going to be hard to beat in that category.

 

It’s an organic wine made from 100% Gamay grapes. It’s light and tastes like strawberries and cherries. It is, quite simply, a fire bottle of wine for the warmer months.

 

It’s got that fizzy in-mouth feel that some people love and that others hate—the one thing we can all agree on is that you shouldn’t open a bottle if you’re wearing a white tee or hoodie.

 

Personally, I found that Le P’tit Poquelin was great over a single sitting. It didn’t drink really well over an extended period of time and lost it’s sweet, refreshing side on the second and third day. So, if you want to get the most out of it—drink it with some friends over the course of an evening.

 

But, at $23 for 100% organic Gamay that’s light and refreshing, it’s hard to complain.

 

Available at the SAQ.

 

 

 

 

Pascal Jolivet, Attitude Sauvignon Blanc, 2018

 

Full disclosure: I only tried this because I thought the label was interesting. It’s made to look like someone’s hand-written “Sauvignon Blanc” on green masking tape and stuck it on the bottle. It’s creative and informal and gives you the impression that it’s a homely wine—a true “vin de table”.

 

When you try it, that’s the impression you’ll get, too. It’s a clean, crisp white with a nice, refreshing citrus bite to it. It’s not the type of wine that will knock your socks off, but it’s exactly the type of safe bet that you should know about. Whether you’re meeting friends for a drink in the park, having family over for supper, or just trying to beat the heat during one of the summer’s inevitable heat waves, Attitude is going to do the job.

 

And, with a sub-$20 price tag, it’s not something you’ll feel guilty about either!

 

Available at the SAQ. Others from Pascal Jolivet at the LCBO.  




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