Wines for Every Summer Occasion

sipping

When the weather’s hot, it’s tempting to go for a beer or cocktail to cool off, yet there are plenty of occasions when wine is just the right beverage: at the pool, picnic table, croquet pitch, campground, even in a canoe on the Russian River. These wines are great for summer sipping.


ZINFANDEL for Camp Cooking

IF YOU LIKE…

Ordaz Family Wines 2014 Montecillo Vineyard Sonoma Valley Zinfandel ($42)

Longtime vineyard guru Jesus “Chuy” Ordaz finally has his name on a wine of his own, and a fine one it is. Spicy cinnamon and black pepper play off a complex, layered, smoothly rounded palate, yet with plenty of power. Red fruit is most prominent, with just the right note of dried herbs.

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Rancho Zabaco 2014 Sonoma Heritage Vines Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($15)

This is a real steal in a hedonistic expression of rich, red berry and blackberry pie, topped with cinnamon sugar. Nicely structured and with a dusty leather note, it will please a hungry crowd.


CABERNET for the Fire Pit

IF YOU LIKE…

Trione Vineyards and Winery 2012 Geyserville Ranch Alexander Valley Henry’s Blend ($54)

Scot Covington blends Cabernet Sauvignon with smaller amounts of Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec in this winning wine, a softly approachable take on the sturdy Cab variety.

Licorice, lavender, violets and black pepper pique interest, with a concentrated midpalate and elegant finish.

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The Divining Rod 2013 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($18)

From water witch extraordinaire Marc Mondavi comes this affordable, lightstyled quaffer. It’s moderately tannic and with integrated oak, singing with cherry and vanilla character. It makes for a fine sipper, with or without food.


CHARDONNAY for Poolside

IF YOU LIKE…

Sanctuary 2014 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($35)

This is a delicious offering from Fetzer Vineyards and its longtime winemaker, Dennis Martin. Grapes from the stellar Charles Heintz and Dutton Ranch vineyards were fermented and aged in French oak, producing a rich wine with lingering flavors of honey, vanilla and baked apple.

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Cannonball Wine Co. 2014 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($15)

Made in a likably light style, the name says it all: Enjoy this wine poolside or on a picnic blanket. Pretty floral aromas, melon fruit and honeyed oak make it just right for drinking during a warm day’s lounging.


SAUVIGNON BLANC for Croquet

IF YOU LIKE…

Judge Palmer 2013 Ellis Alden Vineyard Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($35)

This wine was fermented on the grape skins for a week — unusual for Sauvignon Blanc — and the technique shows in the wine’s dark gold color and distinctive flavors of baked pear, honey and dried apricot. Despite its fleshy texture, it finishes crisp and clean.

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Mazzocco Winery 2015 Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($28)

This well-known Zinfandel producer shows what it can do with white wines in this grassy, textured Sauvignon with stone fruit and lime zest character. Relatively full-bodied, it has enough acidity to remain refreshing and bright, with tangerine and lemongrass on the finish.


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