In my teens, I noted my summers by the crushes I had-those were good times. Now instead of crushes, a culinary obsession and what wines go along best mark my summers. One year it was the Summer of stuffed vegetables, another making the perfect Ceasar Salad, and so it goes. During my Fourth of July get-away, this summer’s theme emerged: oysters. Teeny tiny ones for slurping up raw or big honking ones that need to heat through on an open fire, I like them all. My brother and his wife purchased a whole mess of medium-sized oysters at Drakes Bay Oyster Co. for the Fourth. We ‘qued them on the grill, sipping on Ernesto Picollo’s Gavi, and served them up with fresh horseradish and garlic butter. We had a large crowd, so there was a wait between bites, but I loved that as you waited for the next delicious taste, people had time to visit with one another. So, now back at the shop, I’ve been eyeing the whites and imagining which would be best suited for my next oyster extravaganza. These three whites are oyster-friendly and are especially suited for Summer sippin’.
The 2011 Jarenincan is another charming, unique wine from Slovenia that has got the staff jazzed. The estate of Crnko is located in eastern Slovenia. Crkno is a working farm that also grows vegetables, raises livestock and even bakes bread daily from the wheat they grow and mill themselves! Their vineyards are planted on a specific type of marl soil. Marl is said to look like slate but is more brittle and silty to the touch. Jarenincan, a proprietary name that refers to the nearby town of Jarenina, accounts for half of the winery’s production from their 6 hectares of vines. Prior to ’09 the entire production of Jarenincan was sold locally in Jarenina. The Jarenincan, which comes in a liter bottle, is a blend of various white grapes grown on the estate. The blend varies from year to year. The 2011 is probably dominated by Muller-Thurgau and Laski Riesling. Probably? Yes, probably. I have read differing accounts from the winery’s website and the importer’s technical data sheet. You might wonder how this is possible, but having had direct experience with small producers in France and Italy, I can only say that Europeans are not always as compelled as we (Americans) are to know the exact varietal composition of a wine. The take away here is that this is not supposed to be a serious wine, but an approachable, delicious, fresh drink. We offered the ’10 in last year’s October Dirty Dozen. It was big hit with DD drinkers. I think the ’11 is less floral and has more attack on the finish, though still ever so slightly off-dry. At under 12% abv., this is unquestionably the one to pop open on that sweltering summer evening.
Portugal’s Vinho Verde is synonymous with Summer sippin’ for many a wine drinker. And why wouldn’t it be? Low in alcohol and loaded with juicy citrus fruit that finishes with a playful, tongue-tingling effervescence. So nice. Vera is a collaborative effort between a Portugese native and a winecentric New Yorker–go figure. The grapes for Vera are sourced from 10-35 year old vines grown in the Vinho Verde sub-region of Basto. The grapes are Arinto, Azal, and Loureiro. Never heard of them? Me neither, but that’s ok because Vinho Verde is all you need to know and Vera makes an especially delightful one! Like the Jarenincan, this is an uncomplicated wine that is ideally suited for casual gatherings, served well-chilled, to go along with snacks or light seafood fare. I recently ate a fried oyster sandwich slathered with fennel-flecked coleslaw while visiting Pt. Reyes…the 2011 Vera would have been the perfect match.
| Domaine Sigalas
Domaine Sigalas is no stranger at The Wine House. The 2009 Santorini made our Top Ten Wines for 2010. Not to mention that everyone from critic Robert Parker to writer Eric Asimov to every wine blogger who has ever tasted Sigalas’ Assyrtiko have raved about this world renowned wine. The 2011 Sigalas Assyrtiko’s intense mineral attack and finish, its subtle fruit profile and complexity is pitch perfect. It’s exactly what I think most white wine drinkers are looking for in a light-bodied, crisp white wine. I am struck and amazed by how this seemingly easy-going wine lures you in with its freshness but leaves you dazzled by the layers of flavors and long lasting finish. The wine changes in the glass and it changes on the palate. The 2011 Assyrtiko is my go-to pick for raw oysters on the half shell. The briny, sea breeze flavor of the oyster liquor mirrors the mineral taste of Sigalas’ Assyrtiko.
Before I began my staycation, I asked/pleaded if it were possible to sleep in past 8am. After a full day of swimming, sun and the wild rumpus of family, that first morning we all slept in till 10am, including the dog! That was golden. Continuing with the summer oyster theme, I hope to make a trek out to the coast for another bushel of those briny morsels…I’ll be sure to have one of each of the above wines at the ready in the fridge. —Anya Balistreri