Alfresco Wining – What’s in Your Glass?

A glass of wine enjoyed outside is one of the best things about summer. Whether I’m on the deck surrounded by dear friends and laughter, on the back porch with a good book, or at a sidewalk table at a neighborhood bistro, the pleasure had by the blend of nature and wine is one definition of sheer joy (at least for me)!

Now that the weather in Chicago has finally become seasonally-appropriate (i.e. warm enough to sit outside without a parka), I’m doing my fair share of alfresco wining with the following selections sent as samples. Each is food friendly, on the lighter side (even the reds), and is a lovely pairing with sunshine, a soft breeze, and all the feels of summer. Enjoy!

alfresco wine

But First, Rosé!

Mas de la Dame 2017 ($16) is an oh-so-chic estate bottled rosé from a 16th century winery located in Les Baux de Provence, a medieval village located atop of rocky outcrop in southern France’s Alpilles Mountains. (You may have seen Van Gogh’s paintings of this area.). Consisting of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cabernet Sauvignon, glorious aromas of red ripe strawberries, raspberries, red flowers, fleshy peaches, and vanilla were an enticing entrance. Dry and balanced, the palate profile included lively acidity, intense red fruit notes, and a fresh, round mouthfeel leading to a lasting, complex finish. Anne Poniatowski and Caroline Missoffe, fourth generation owners of Mas de la Dame (“Farm of the Woman”) have worked with famed vigneron and consultant, Jean Luc Colombo, to “redefine the essence of this ancient terroir”. This wine is absolutely lovely.

alfresco wine
From the Tuscany region of Italy, the Mazzei family, owners of Chianti Classico’s renown Castello di Fonterutoli, have produced a mouthwatering Rosé of Sangiovese and Syrah, Belguardo Rosé 2017 ($13.99). In the 1990s, the family “took the helm” at the Belguardo estate in Maremma, Tuscany; they recognized the potential for outstanding winemaking there… and it shows in this wine. Mesmerizing aromas of ripe strawberries, raspberries, and red florals were light and snappy. The palate expressed notes of spice and intense fruit, crisp acidity, and a pleasurable finish. And the label? Created after a geometrical symbol sketched by Leonardo da Vinci, the artwork signifies “a union between precision and perspective”, the Mazzeis’ philosophy to blend outstanding growing conditions with age-old winemaking talent in order to produce memorable wines for all winelovers to enjoy.

alfresco wine

Refreshing Whites

Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favorite varieties; it expresses its sense of place so effectively. Galerie Naissance 2016 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($30) is no exception. Just perfect for any alfresco moment, this exceptional wine of 100% Sauvignon Blanc burst with aromas of oranges, lemons, melon, hint of freshly mowed grass, and beautiful minerality that I love. On the palate, mouthwatering acidity, broad citrus and tropical fruit notes, such as banana and pineapple, led to a long, ever-so refreshing finish. After fermentation in stainless steel, French puncheon, and concrete egg, the wine was aged sur lie in a combination of the same plus French oak barrels for six months.

alfresco wine
Why not take your alfresco wining to another level? Choose a wine that may be from a variety of which you’re unfamiliar! I discovered two wines from Spain’s region of Bierzo: Godelia Godello-Dona Blanca 2015 and Godelia Mencia 2012 (see below). Vines are cultivated on prime hillside high-altitude locations with soil of decomposed quartzite and slate. The Godelia winery, located outside the village of Cacabelos, is comprised of 86 acres of estate vineyards plus another 37 acres of vineyards farmed under contract.The Godelia Godello-Dona Blanca 2015 ($17) was a brilliant white wine of 80% Godello and 20% Dona Blanca. Notes of tart stone fruit, pears, and crisp orchard fruit reigned on the nose while mouthwatering acidity, minerality, and stone fruit were present on the palate. Light and refreshing, fermentation was in stainless steel tanks to retain the lovely fruit elements.

alfresco wine

Alfresco Wining with Reds

 The Godelia Mencia 2012 ($19) is from 100% Mencia from 50 to 90 year-old vines. Aged for 12 months in 105- and 132-gallon oak barrels, I loved each whiff of bright red fruit, fresh berries, and roses. On the palate, lively acidity and soft tannic structure framed flavors of luscious red fruit and a touch of mint, leading to a lingering, balanced finish.

alfresco wine
If you want your alfresco happening to get even better, pour this exceptional estate Pinot Noir from Left Coast Cellars in the Willamette Valley! The Left Coast Latitude 45 Degrees Estate Pinot Noir ($38) was not only elegant, but a true joy to sip. Notes of ripe cherries, vanilla, spice, baking spices, and tea were prevalent on the nose. My palate was in Pinot Noir heaven as I tasted juicy raspberries and cherries, cinnamon, herbs, and spice. I noted bright acidity and smooth-as-silk tannins during the lasting finish. This wine was aged for 18 months in French oak; I’d suggest decanting for about 30 minutes… long enough to prepare your appetizers, relax in the chaise, and anticipate the arrival of your guests.

alfresco wine
Cheers to alfresco wining! What’s in your glass? ~ Cindy

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