Summer Wines, Tennessean Wine Column

How about a little tour of the wine world today: six bottles, six countries—four continents.

Let’s start in cool, maritime Marlborough, New Zealand, home of pioneering Kiwi wine producer, Brancott Estate. Flight Song–one of Brancott’s newest labels—is an early-harvest pinot grigio. Early-harvest grapes translate into naturally lower sugar content, which in turn means fewer calories and lower alcohol content than standard pinot grigio. Makes for a nice summer sipper.

Jacob’s Creek Winery, in neighboring Australia, seems a world away from New Zealand. Located in hot, dry South Australia, Jacob’s Creek focuses on big rich reds such as their new Double Barrel Shiraz. As the label implies, the shiraz is first matured in traditional oak and then finished in used Scotch whiskey barrels. The result is a complex and layered wine swirling with flavor.

Still in the Southern Hemisphere, Trivento Winery showcases Argentina’s signature white grape: torrontes. Blended with a bit of pinot grigio for some zing, their White Orchid torrontes, with its floral aromas and tropical fruit characteristics, makes for a nice change of pace from chardonnay and is the perfect name for this exotic beauty.

Closer to home—in Paso Robles, Calfornia–Justin Vineyards & Winery, recently released their 2015 Justin cabernet sauvignon. 2015 was a challenging year for California grape growers and wine makers but Justin worked its magic to produce another fine vintage. Quality fruit, careful handling (hand-picked/sorted fruit) and fourteen months in American oak brings home a classic California cab—without a hefty price tag.

And then there’s  France, where wine master Michel Chapoutier has released his latest Bila-Haut Rosé. Sourcing fruit (grenache, cinsault, and syrah) from the historic wine region of Languedoc in the South of France, Chapoutier uses stainless steel tanks for fermentation—allowing the fruit to speak for itself, without the influence of oak. The Bila-Haut label–with its signature Braille label—delivers consistent quality at affordable prices.

Just over the border in Italy, legendary Tuscan wine producer Gabbiano, has been producing wine since the 12th Century (they also make wonderful olive oil.) I’m guessing that the wine makers from centuries ago would be impressed with the quality of Gabbiano’s new Tuscan red: Dark Night—a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and sangiovese. Dense with red fruit, spice, and chocolate, Dark Knight bridges the gap between ancient Tuscan winemaking traditions and modern know-how.

Summer Wines

Brancott Estate 2015 Flight Song Pinot Grigio, $15.00

Trivento 2016 White Orchid Torrontes, $12.00

Bila-Haut 2015 Rosé, $15.00

Gabbiano 2015 Dark Night, $17.00

Jacob’s Creek (Second Vintage) Double Barrel Shiraz, $25.00

Justin 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, $25.00

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