Wine drinking doesn’t need to feel stuffy — nor does it even need to be done indoors or out of a proper glass. For August, consider refreshing wines that can accompany all of your outdoor summer outings, particularly those spent underneath the stars. Eric’s selection of wines all have the kind of crisp, light buoyancy that makes for pleasurable outdoor sipping, from an Italian red that skirts between savory and fruit-driven attributes to a white blend with a little skin contact that reminds us of both tropical fruit, and gummy bears. These summertime wines are pure pleasure — just as the season should be.
- Abbia Nòva “Senza Vandalismi” Cesanese | Lazio, Italy; red, cesanese: Cousins Pierluca and Daniele Proietti are behind Abbia Nòva, and in addition to grapes, the Proiettis run a true polycultural farm specializing in olives, walnuts, herbs, and an array of vegetables. Cesanese has been the preferred red variety of this area for over 500 years and while we aren’t working with vines that old, this wine is made from vines that are nearing a century in age. It offers well-integrated tannins that are soft, and the perfect setting for a wine that shifts between savory and fruit-driven attributes. This is meant to be shared with all of your dearest, and perhaps on an outdoor burger night. I think that there is nothing better than a flame-kissed burger and an exquisite wine to accompany it.
- Vater & Sohn White Blend NV | Franconia, Germany; skin contact, Bacchus, Muller-Thurgau, silvaner: This wine was love-at-first-taste for me. Vater & Sohn is a collaboration between Michael Voelker and his father, meant to show how generational differences in philosophy can co-exist and work to create something magnificent. (Michael is also making delicious wines with his wife Melanie Drese under the 2Naturkinder name.) In their limestone-riddled vineyards, they select from Bacchus, Muller-Thurgau, and silvaner to compose the blend for this wine. Immediately once this wine hits your glass it jumps out aromatically with herbs and flowers that intermingle with exotic fruit. (I also immediately thought of gummy bears.)
- Sebestyén Kadarka | Szekszárd, Hungary; red, kadarka: I’ve been lucky to have my friend Vitalii Dascaliuc introduce me to some unbelievable wines coming from places that I previously ignored (Hungary was unfortunately one of them). Csaba and Csilla Sebestyén established their winery in 1998 in the Szekszárd region in the south of Hungary, which ranks as one of the most prestigious in the country. Their kadarka (an ancient variety) is meant to be the purest expression of the grape. This bottle offers a brilliant melange of red berries and violets. As I drank through this I thought of it as something that I’d love to have at the end of an outdoor adventure. Something with just enough rusticity and just enough refinement to perch itself perfectly in that place where we can just enjoy it.
- Les Chemins de Bassac L’incandescente Rosé | Languedoc, France; rosé, syrah: One of the hot button wine issues that I love to disagree with people on is whether or not “rosé season” is a real thing. (It’s not, and yet here I am serving you pink wine in August and falling into line.) Based in Puismisson in the Languedoc portion of France, Bruno and Thama Triguero left architecture careers in São Paulo behind in favor of a less bustling lifestyle and a bit more balance. They took over a domaine in 2016 that had been in operation since the late 19th century. This is their succulent rosé filled with red fruits and herbs on the palate. The finish is incredibly silky.
- Keltis “Zan” Red | Bizeljsko, Slovenia; red, zametovka, blaufrankisch, kraljevina, local white grapes: Keltis's estate dates back to 1989 when Marijan Kelhar and his wife Ana released the first bottle. (Though the Kelhar family farm was first on that land as early as 1776.) One of Marijan and Ana’s sons, Miha, eventually took over the cellar, moving Keltis towards organic production. Today the Keltis name is known for wild pet-nats and a unique approach to organic wines. This bright and lively bottling tastes like cranberries, cherries, and wild strawberries, with an acidity running through it all. This is extremely juicy, a wine for every single day.
- Limited Addition Of Service Piquette | Willamette Valley, Oregon; piquette/skin-contact, pinot gris, muscat, riesling: Limited Addition is a new project from master sommelier Bree Stock and her husband Chad, a couple that is dedicated to diversifying the Oregon wine scene. This is the duo’s skin-contact/rosé piquette, made from the skins of pinot gris, muscat, and riesling. What we get is a deliberately low-alcohol (and sustainable) wine that is refreshing, and the definition of a porch pounder, if you will. You’ll find notes of black pepper, grapefruit, berries, and herbs in this ultimate day-drinking beverage.
- Where's Linus Sauvignon Blanc | Sebastopol, California; white, sauvignon blanc: Chris Christensen went on a wine tasting trip in the Sonoma Valley during his junior year at Stanford and was instantly hooked. Before he knew it the Iowa native decided to pivot from a career in business and taught himself the art of winemaking. In addition to making wines under his own label Bodkin Wines, Where’s Linus is Chris’s collaboration with Jenny Lefcourt of New York-based importer Jenny & Francois. This sauvignon blanc is sunshine in a bottle, a crisp and refreshing white that would pair well with grilled seafood or a green mango salad.
- Domaine Ribiera “Amassa” | Languedoc-Roussillon, France; red, grenache, cinsault: Regis and Christine Pichon left careers in hospitality in 2005 to move to the small village of Aspiran in the Languedoc. There, with about 7.5 hectares of vines on sloping hills, they grow a range of grapes from cinsault, syrah, and grenache to roussanne and clairette. This bottle calls on the former and is garnet in color with purple reflections. The nose reveals a lovely bouquet with violets as the main note, followed by fruity aromas of cherry, blackberry, and plum. There’s a wonderful amount of tannins in this smooth, slightly spicy wine. Particularly enjoyable on the table alongside lasagna, meatballs, or red meat.