How to Find Your Favourite Summer Flavours in Wine
‘It’s summer in a bottle!’ Quite a familiar description for white and rose wines (and on rare occasions, perhaps even a red), but one that can be interpreted in different ways. Pretty much every bottle of chilled wine can be described as a summer wine because it is indeed cold and can bring refreshment on a hot day. But when talking about summer flavours I think we need to be a bit more specific. There are certain smells and flavours that can really hit the spot when we experience them. Summer is immediately brought into focus thanks to the aroma of freshly cut grass hitting our nostrils or notes of strawberries and cream on the palate, for example.
Short of going around sniffing or tasting these very specific things ourselves, wine is pretty amazing in the way it can replicate these characteristics, whilst also providing us with a tasty tipple. So if you’re in search of a bit of real summer in a bottle, here are some places you can find those summer flavours. Given the dismal weather we’ve been enjoying of late, it seems appropriate to reminisce…
Elderflowers and Freshly Cut Grass
I’ve grouped these two aromas together because more often than not they’re found in the same type of wine. Pass an elderflower tree in the early summer months and you’re hit with the most amazing, intense floral aroma. Unfortunately, in its cruder form, it is often identified as a ‘cat’s pee’ smell in wine, but we’ll gloss over that. And there can’t be a scent that better exemplifies the British summer than that of freshly cut grass, right? Short of making your own homemade elderflower cordial or mowing your lawn more frequently than required you can experience this is liquid form by digging out a Sauvignon Blanc from a cooler New World region. The Casas del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc from the Casablanca Valley in Chile or the Franklin Tate Sauvignon-Semillon from Margaret River in Western Australia are two fresh, fragrant examples.
The flavour of the sort of fruit salad you only seem to make in the warmer months, a classic old-school Australian or Californian Chardonnay might seem like the obvious answer here with those rich pineapple and mango flavours. I always associate these more with the autumn and winter, mainly because those tropical notes are more often than not accompanied by warm notes of vanilla and butter. No, for much more summery tropical aromas and flavours, I would go for a delicious Gewurztraminer like the Michel Fonné from Alsace with flavours of lychee, papaya and honeydew melon.
Honeysuckle and Orange Blossom
Another coupling up of summer scents which can often be found with great intensity in German Riesling or sweet Muscat. If you’re looking for something on the drier side, the Peter Lehmann Layers White is a blend of three aromatic white grape varieties – Muscat, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris, as well as less aromatic Semillon. It displays aromas of heady summer blossoms with lovely peachy flavours on the palate.
Strawberries and Watermelon
Now, you might not automatically group these two flavours together. They are both very summery fruits that can be found in many very summery rosés (although maybe not always at the same time). For the former, go with a dry French classic like the Tavel Les Eglantiers Rosé which has lashings of wild strawberry notes. For that watermelon hit, you’ll be needing something a bit lighter from Provence or a Tempranillo-based rosé from Spain.
Hopefully, this covers all the important sought-after summer scents and tastes. There are some that you might not be able to find in most wines – the smell of sunscreen and swimming pools for example. And thank goodness for that.
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