The best summer wines from around the world
KISHORE AND SMITA IYENGAR waltz with exhilaratingly delightful world class boutique blushful and summery wines from around the world that uplift many a fine celebrative sunshine mood!
Valle D’Aosta, the smallest northwestern region of Italy ringed by the Alps, bordering France and Switzerland has high altitude cleft-furrowed boutique vineyards that produce limited edition, high quality cold climate whites that are savored mostly in the region.
Undulating Alpine pastures juxtapose with ‘runaway’ vineyards, freshly harvested grapes and several local co-operative and boutique wineries in the valley. At Caves Mont Blanc de Morgex et La Salle at their winery in La Ruine our boutique wine tasting was conducted by ace winemaker and innovator Nicola Del Negro who creates an array of amazing sparkling, still and dessert wines from just one single white grape stock, -the Prie Blanc, a unique achievement. It’s remarkable how these cold climate wines owe their birth to vineyards on seventy degree Alpine slopes of the surrounding Valle D’Aosta, the highest in Europe.
The perfect Spumante (sparkling white wine) embodied by their ‘Blanc du Blanc Brut’ created through the Metodo Classico offered exhilarating bouquets of white rose, pineapple, hay and green bamboo. On quaffing, we discovered mellow citrus and heather flavors headed on by strawberry. Their still white wine- ‘Caves Mont Blanc’ Bianco was equally interesting, presenting us with distinct lime and jasmine bouquets going on to grapefruit, green apple and grass flavors on the back palate. Superlative. ‘The Piagne’ white also created from Prie Blanc grapes contrasted with kiwi and guava on the taste buds. Ideal whites with the finest Fontina cheese and stream trout fillet for your summer sojourns!
VIRIDIAN VALLEY WOWS
The fleeting rain edged our enthusiasm for great wines as we headed across the Sahyadri hills to Sanjegaon in Maharashtra’s Nashik district in western India, to the Grover Zampa Vineyards. A crystalline crispness in the atmosphere created by contrasting landscapes and lush greenery uplifted our wine tastings here. The much acclaimed, chilled sparkling Zampa Soiree Brut welcomed us with its remarkable lily, wet grass and ananas bouquet. The svelte, dry hay tinge complimented with lemony green apple flavors refreshed our palates. In their wide angled, uber chic glass-covered cellar door our cheery host Sumedh Singh Mandla –CEO uncorked two outstanding summery jewels in our honor. The first was the very distinguished, award winning Zampa Soiree Brut Rose, a thrillingly seductive sparkling number owning pedigree to Shiraz that opened out its red cherry fruit and apricot nose, going onto a more curious dusky and discreet white truffle, vanilla and peppermint flavors all the way. The next was a fine vintage, – a Vijay Amritraj Reserve Collection White, a superb barrel fermented Viognier with its unmistakable peach, apricot, vanilla and honey fragrances and impressive lemon rind and sweet lime palate.
After a tour of the winemaking process and barrel room we settled to quaff two more of the Grover Zampa labels. The ‘Grover Art Collection Viognier’ with light fennel and jasmine bouquets encouraged by flavors of guava, green apple and citrus was enchanting to the hilt. Summery soiree, that. Sumedh introduced us to two more delightful whites in his stable, the pale and smooth Zampa Chenin Blanc with it’s velvety lemon rind and honeysuckle flavors and the Zampa Rose, a terrific blush with melon and sweet lime tinges, radiant strawberry palate.
The Zampa Sauvignon Blanc, a young ‘un with fabulous grassy aromas and soft aromatic fruity flavors did super with a slice of Manchego cheese from Barcelona. With great interest and curiosity we did quaff the elusive Grover Zampa One Tree Hill White which saluted the harmony of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Chenin Blanc in a marriage of fine peony, white rose on the nose, while offering unmistakable richness in juniper, guava and light jasmine flavors. C’est La Vie!
SOUTH ISLAND SENSATIONS
In this dry cold snowy region of New Zealand where boutique wineries dot the rugged terrain, summery white specials always enchant the palates. At the famed Gibbston Valley Winery in Central Otago-South Island’s Queenstown, our tryst with their delightfully aromatic 2013 La Dulcinee, a fine Gewürztraminer displayed grassy aromas with lily, green apple flavors that lingered. Their excellent 2010 Reserve Pinot Noir, a distinguished vintage threw up oaky, musky bouquets with peppery and slightly tangy mushroom tastes on the back palate. Super numbers for summer sojourns.
In the foothills of the Simonsberg Peak at scenic Stellenbosch in the Cape Winelands in South Africa in the Cape Town surrounds, is the iconic Rustenberg Estate, reputed worldwide for it’s signature wines, custom created with deep passion and expertise rating consistently high on world oenological charts. At the swish, stylish tasting lounge of this winery established in 1682, we sampled liquid wonders par excellence. Starting off with a wine of great distinction – the 2010 Brampton Beacon Bloomer Sauvignon Blanc named after the honorable champion Jersey bull Brampton Beacon Bloomer, who was imported from Canada by owners Peter and Pam Barlow to add zest and vitality to their existing herd in their Stellenbosch estates. Brampton with its stylish contemporary label and innovation identify with the natural vivacity of ample South African fruits. The wine itself is exhilarating with gooseberry, lychee, green asparagus and green apple flavors with springy aromas of lime and orange.
The fabulously heady 2008 Rustenberg Stellenbosch Chardonnay with its high 14.6 alcohol level is a winner on all counts. And what a wine! It was a well balanced 100% Chardonnay boasting significant mineral hints and smooth oak integration. The summery apricot, peach and orange peel aromas command revelry with flavors of almond, mild saffron and pine nut.
The smooth drive to Castell a tiny hilltop village in Bavaria, Southern Germany brought down a whoosh of seasonal showers soaking up the furrowed, inclined vineyards into a brilliance of zillion greens as we pulled up at the world famous Castell Winery.
A very wholesome wine tasting experience here offered us some of the finest labels in the Bavarian wine legacy by one of pioneers in the discipline. The summery light award winning white -2008 Schloss Casteller Bausch Mueller Thurgau – Kabinett Trocken (dry), and the celebrated 2009 Casteller Silvaner Kabinett (premium) were truly, outstandingly dry and aromatic. Known globally for their exceptional award-winning ‘Good Growth’ – GG Schlossberg Silvaner (GG-is the official hallmark of finest certification in wines from premium grape stock) both labels offered grand mountain floral notes matched with lingering grapefruit, passion fruit and light melon flavors.
The superlative 2009 ‘Apriles’ Silvaner ( in celebration of spring in April) was literally nectar to our tongues with fresh jasmine, lily, green bamboo and white rose bouquets. But the bespoke Castell finesse in fine vintage wines emerged in their grand reds, – the 2007 Spaetburgunder Trocken, their 2008 Reitsteig and the innovative 2008 Castell Cuvee blend. Worthy of scrutiny and appreciation were their strikingly immediate leather, tannin-powered nose, cedar and pine aromas with the peppery finish of Pinot Noir and wafting velvety back palates.
We saluted our Castell sojourn with an outstanding ‘Casteller Kugelspiel Silvaner 2007 Eiswein (Ice wine) with vanilla and honey notes and mesmerizing nectarine, chocolate and lemon rind hints lingering back palate.
In Australia, Tasmania’s gentle, cool winters offer superb summery wines that compete with global jewels with verve and strength. In the verdant Huon Valley near Hobart, Home Hill Winery wowed us with their 2014 Unwooded Chardonnay and their fine 2013 Kelly’s Reserve Chardonnay. Both white wines worked their apricot, white rose and guava flavors on our taste buds while the exhilarating bouquets of heather and moist grass scored prominently.
Their outstanding number, 2014 Estate Pinot Noir rated the best in Australia displayed lingering musky bouquets that went on to hay and smoked aromas. The prominent flavors of cinnamon, dark berries and truffles had a heady enchantment that reminded us of cool summer nights and jazz pianoforte renditions.
Kitzbuehel, Tirol. The very heart and soul of Austria’s and the world’s most enchanting Alpine wonderland.Our adventure with Austrian varietals took us onto interesting labels from the Wachau region. Winemaker Lagler presented his smooth Riesling 1000 Eimerberg Selection 2009 from Spitz, Wachau which offered us superb floral and fruity flavors of passion fruit and nectarine. The sunshine-fresh Gruener Veltliner Steinborz Smaragd 2009 from Spitz was almost silky lemony with hints of juniper. The Lagler Zweigelt Hartberg 2006 was a classic Zweigelt, -Austria’s familiar cheery yet assertive red wine with a woody, cassis palate.
Rounding up our variegated wine tasting evening, we concluded with winemaker Gertrude Seidl’s 2009 Riesling Ried Kalkofen from Spitz in Wachau. Provoking aromas of lime and light jasmine while flavors spelt honest honeysuckle and melon. The effusively talkative Gertrude offered us her well-blended 2008 Cuvee from Spitz-Wachau wth it’s accent on Zweigelt. The oaky, mild tannins lifted our palates further with lingering burnt wood after tastes.