From chardonnay to syrah, these are the wines to uncork when temperatures flirt with the century mark.
Pairing wine, spirits, and beer with a favorite dish — or dinner — can seem like a daunting task. Do you pair for contrast? Do you match the meal to the drink with symmetry of flavor in mind? Although the choice is yours — and we suggest you drink what strikes your fancy — recommendations from someone who has dedicated his/her life to studying wine and sharing it (wine and know-how) with others is worth a little time. In this case, the professional is C Lazy U Ranch’s Elise Blann, a Certified Level II sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Newly hired at the Colorado luxury guest ranch ahead of the property’s centennial anniversary in 2019, Blann works closely with the ranch’s leadership team and Executive Chef Dennis Kaniger to pair each evening’s meals with interesting and complimentary wine selections. “Chef Dennis Kaniger offers extensive experience from the culinary world and I love experiencing his cooking style and learning about how he runs his kitchen,” she says. “Each chef is so unique and different, you pick up different tips and tricks from all of them. This helps when I’m choosing wines to offer our nightly guests.” It’s this enthusiasm that had us clamoring to pick her brain for wine recommendations at a time when daily temperatures regularly clock in with triple digits. Her tips will have you thirsty for C Lazy U’s 8,500 acres of adventure on the land and at the dining table.
Blann’s Tips for Choosing a Summer Wine
My number one rule about drinking wine is very simple: Just drink what you like! Everyone has a different taste. With summer temperatures this year varying from unreasonably warm to sweltering, whites and rosés are popular choices to sit back and relax with. Slightly chilled, they are refreshing and invigorating when it comes to unwinding after a day full of ranch activities, like horseback riding, Orvis-endorsed fly fishing, mountain biking, hiking, and more.
Blann’s Favorite Summer Wines
2017 Château de Berne Inspiration Rosé, Provence, France (average price: $21.99)
This wine is semi-dry with ripe berry notes and subtle citrus. Just enough body to give it a bit of weight but still refreshingly soft on the palate.
2017 Zuccardi Serie A Torrontés, Salta, Argentina (average price: $14.46)
This wine is very fragrant on the nose in terms of floral notes, but quite fruity on the palate. At first, it has some bright acidity which brings out some tangy citrus notes, but it really rounds itself out with delicious tropical and stone fruits as it continues to open up. Still remains drinkable after a day or two.
2017 Hourglass Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California (average price: $40)
Blended with just a touch of semillon (usually a trademark of a bordeaux blanc), this sauvignon blanc has everything a California sauvignon blanc drinker is looking for and more. You get the forward citrus, gooseberry, fresh cut grass, slight stone fruit, and vibrant acidity you’d expect, while the semillon cuts through some of the acidity, allowing it to obtain a slightly more robust mouthfeel.
2015 Hartford Court Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, California (average price: $27.99)
For all those California chardonnay drinkers out there, this is a great option for summertime. You get the oak and the butter you’re looking for without it being too heavy. The apple and pear notes come through just enough to create an extremely balanced chardonnay, light enough in body to stand up to the summer sun.
N.V. Santo Stefano Lambrusco, Emilia-Romagna, Italy (average price: $12.96)
Now, technically this is a red wine, but it is done in a semi-sweet style with a slight frizzante, making it a great option for anyone who likes sweet wines. Just enough bubbles to keep it fun, it pairs fantastically with charcuterie boards and pizzas. Plus, with only 8 percent ABV, you can feel less guilty at how quaffable it is.
Although whites and rosés tend to be a more popular option, there are still plenty of reds out there which are not only great on their own, but also pair fantastically with your barbecue and backyard grilled fare:
2015 Frog’s Leap Zinfandel, Napa Valley, California (average price: $30.99)
Less bold than you’re traditional zinfandel, this bottle will appeal to red-drinkers of all kinds. It will go great with a casual barbecue, hamburgers, pasta, chicken, steak — you name it.
2015 Arnot-Roberts Syrah, Sonoma Coast, California (average price: $39.99)
One of my all-time favorite wines. Rhône Valley in style, this wine is full-bodied without being heavy. Allow it some time to breathe, because it really softens out as it opens up. This bottle will be great even a few years down the road.
2016 Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Coast, California (average price: $17.99)
This wine has quickly become a favorite at C Lazy U. This is a great everyday cab, not only pairing well with food, but also just a great wine to drink on its own.
Blann’s Favorite C Lazy U Dish Pairing
I pair a 2014 Dutton-Goldfield Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley with our New York Strip, served with sautéed mushrooms, onions, and peppers. It’s to-die for. It also pairs extremely well with our chicken piccata dish. This wine opens up immediately and is quite smooth.
For more information about C Lazy U or to make reservations, visit the luxury guest ranch’s website. Images courtesy C Lazy U Ranch.
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