Dick Young and I share at least two interests: sane foreign policy thought, and wine. As the owner of a wine bar here in DC, I come across, and taste, a lot of wine. So Dick thought it might be good to pull together a column on some suggestions for how to imbibe through the summer. Our list is exclusively Latin American, but I cut my teeth on French wine and have wide-ranging oenological interests, so I’ll try to be as broad as I can here.
First off: despite the ridiculous fetishization of the product, and its abominable linguistic derivations, frosé and worse, brosé, it is fine to drink rosé during the summer. The range of styles is broad, from austere Provençal style wines that feature aggressive acidity and citrus fruits to plusher, darker wines made from grapes like Garnacha in Spain or Mourvèdre in Southern France. At Ruta, we’re featuring the Susana Balbo Signature rosé, very much in the leaner style despite being made from a 60/40 blend of Malbec and Pinot Noir. It’s terrific juice, with a big push of tangerine and wild strawberry right up front. More generally, rosé is the perfect afternoon sipper with a plate of charcuterie.
If it’s okay to slosh back rosé despite its popularity, it’s also okay to drink Sauvignon Blanc despite its new status as an object of hatred among wine cognoscenti. The tropical flavors of New Zealand sauv blanc have given the grape a bad name as more of a cocktail than a wine, but lean, beautiful versions hail from, of course, Sancerre, as well as from lesser known Loire villages like Quincy or Touraine, where striking values can be found. I’m a huge fan of the Sancerre from Matthias & Emile Roblin.
Tired of rosé and not willing to get back on the sauv blanc wagon? Heading to your hipster friend’s house and need to show how cool you are? Try Albariño. Originally from the Rias Baixas region in Spain, the grape has found its way, stowed along with Galician immigrants, to Uruguay as well, where it is making a name for itself. These wines, from both countries, tend to feature big acid, intense minerality and aromas that border on a saline sea breeze, making them perfect pairings for seafood. We’ve had great success with the Garzon Albariño from Uruguay, but it would be fun to compare and contrast it with one of the foundational producers in Spain, like Pazo de Señorans.
But of course: red wines. Just because it’s unbearably hot doesn’t mean we can’t drink red. It’s a paradox of summer that we spend a lot of time grilling, putting nice char onto beautiful steaks, or bark onto brisket, producing plates that would pair beautifully with burly reds. To which I say first: We have air conditioning! Take those steaks inside, pull a bottle of Côte-Rôtie or Bandol out of your cool cellar, and luxuriate with the paradox of modern summers!
Then again, the new conventional wisdom about summer reds is correct here: Cru Beaujolais is one of the greatest values in wine today. I am partial to the Morgon from Marcel Lapierre–they do a low-sulfur version and a zero sulfur (sans soufre, labeled as Cuvée N) version. Put the natural wine geeks where they belong and go for the low, not the no. We started putting sulfur in wines for a reason: it’s a volatile agricultural product that travels thousands of miles to your table. The dock workers that took the container off the ship likely didn’t even know what it contained, let alone how to handle it. Don’t leave your wine delights to the vagaries of a shipping conglomerate.
I say all the time: there’s never been a better time to be a wine drinker. Red, white, or rosé, there’s great wine being made in all styles, at all price points. So experiment this summer. Maybe even try something exotic from Latin America!
A Note from Dick Young: Justin is one of my oldest, best and smartest friends from his Cato Institute Grand Strategy scholar days. When Justin made his big step to launch Ruta, I immediately contacted him to join me as a consultant and guest writer here at richardcyoung.com. Justin is correct that he and I share a mighty interest in the world of wine. Unlike Justin, I am no expert on Latin American wine. I thought a summer feature from undoubtedly one of the most informed analysts in America on the subject would make a lot of sense.
French wine, sans Bordeaux, is my expertise and an indulgence I share with Justin. As such I am pleased to endorse every word Justin has shared with you regarding his thoughts on summer French wines. I am especially enthused about Justin’s mention of Cote Roti and Bandol, as well as his laser-like accuracy on Morgon from Marcel Lapierre.