Summer is upon us and it’s time for lighter-bodied wines. After a successful launch last December, the Tortuga Wine Club’s June offerings are designed for the heat of summer.
Although some new immigrants don’t think the Cayman Islands experiences a change in seasons, natives and long-time residents realise that summer brings more heat, more humidity and, of course, more rain.
For wine lovers, that means those heavy Cabernet Sauvignons and oaky Chardonnay’s just seem out of place, especially at outdoor events. Instead, they reach for crisp white wines, dry rosés and light-bodied red wines that can take a bit of chilling.
To help residents meet their summer wine needs, Barnaby Richardson, the sales and marketing manager of Tortuga Wines & Spirits Ltd. has come up with two mixed sets of six wines designed for drinking in warmer temperatures that will be offered through the Tortuga Wine Club presented by The Journal.
“We’re trying to think beach and the summer with these wines,” he said.
When bought in one of two mixed, half-cases, these wines are being offered through 6 July for 20 per cent less than the retail price. Purchases can either be made online through cayjournal.com/wineclub or by paying in cash at the Cayman Free Press reception desk. Tortuga Rum Company will deliver the wine free of charge to your home or office, or it can be collected at the Tortuga retail store at Governors Square.
“We are offering the Summer Classics half case for just $83, and the Summer Eclectics for $96, both of which are incredible deals,” Richardson said.
Sauvignon Blanc was made for summer, which is one reason it is by far the best-selling white wine in the tropical climate of the Cayman Islands. With tropical fruit aromas and a good citrusy acidity that pairs well with summer foods, Sauvignon Blanc – especially from the New World – is ideal for sipping by the pool or dining alfresco.
Tortuga’s Summer Classics features three New World Sauvignon Blancs. Two of these wines are from New Zealand’s iconic Marlborough region, recognised as one of the best places in the world to grow Sauvignon Blanc. The hot summer days and cool nights there bring out a unique expressiveness to Sauvignon Blanc – a cross of tropical fruits and herbaceousness – that can’t be found anywhere else.
Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (retail $19.55), one of Tortuga’s best-selling wines, is like summer in a glass, with aromas of tropical fruits and flavours of pineapple, stone fruits and zesty finish. This is a wine to go with summer salads, vegetables and fresh shellfish.
The Ned ($19.99) is the other New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, but from a little farther down the South Island’s Marlborough region in the Wairau Valley on the banks of the Waihopai River.
This wine gives the telltale Marlborough aroma of fresh green grass. On the palate it’s fresh and peppery with lots of citrus. This is a wine for salads with goat cheese and the bounty of Caribbean Sea.
The other Sauvignon Blanc, Vergelegen ($16.99), comes from another Southern Hemisphere wine region – South Africa. Vergelegen is a centuries old estate now owned by Baron Eric de Rothschild of the famed Chateau Lafitte winery in Bordeaux. This crisp wine has strong aromas of fruit, green peppers and fresh cut grass and on the palate has flavours of tropical fruit that give way to a lingering finish of tart grapefruit. This is a good wine for ceviche, grilled shrimp, or with summer salads.
Pinot Grigio is another good summer wine and the Zonin Delle Venezie ($12.99) is a lighter style of the iconic Italian wine. It is soft and light with a fresh, fruity flavour and a hint of pineapple at the finish.
“This is a great quaffing wine,” said Richardson, adding the Delle Venezie would be good with food or just drinking alone outdoors somewhere. This wine would pair well with tapas or pasta with light sauces, or any kind of light seafood dish.
Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean all the wines have to be white. In Europe in the summertime, rosé is wine of choice. Although North Americans tend to think rosés are on the sweet side – a legacy of the White Zinfandel craze – many rosés are quite dry.
The Summer Classics wine selection includes Chateau Mourgues du Gres Les Galets Rosés ($14.00), a dry blend of Syrah and Grenache that has a gorgeous ruby colour and flavours of raspberries. This Rhône valley wine is light enough for outdoor drinking but has enough structure to stand up to summer barbecue meats and fish, or to the heartiness of a Niçoise salad.
There are times, even in the heat of summer, when nothing but a red wine will suffice – like when you’re grilling burgers or salmon or serving a heartier meal. One great lighter wine for these occasions is Pinot Noir, which has the added benefit of being able to take a little chilling without muting its flavours.
Kim Crawford Marlborough Pinot Noir ($19.55) is a New World wine that has a lot of Old World character. With aromas of red berries and cherries and flavours that match, this is a wine that can be enjoyed before, during or after a summer dinner.
There are many grapes from wine growing regions all over the world that are suited well for summer drinking, and the selections for Tortuga Wine Club’s Summer Eclectics highlight six such wines from Europe.
In Austria, the winery Schloss Gobelsburg produces a line of great wines under several labels. Gobelsburger Lössterrassen Grüner Veltliner ($17.25) is a light-bodied white wine perfect for Cayman’s climate all year round. Relatively low in alcohol content, this is a great lunch wine. Spicy with citrus on the nose, this wine has flavours of tropical fruits and pepper on the finish. It would pair well with vegetables, a salad topped with grilled fish, cold soups and even sushi.
The Gobelsburger label also produces a rosé called Cistercien ($19.99), which is made from two Austrian red grapes, Zweigelt and St. Laurent. This easy-drinking wine, which can be chilled slightly, displays aromas and flavours of cherries and has a nice acidity that makes it a good wine pairing with many foods, or for just sipping outside while watching the sunset.
Moving from Austria to Germany, the Tortuga Wine Club visits the Rheingau region with 50° Riesling ($15.99) from the G.H. von Mumm winery. This wine exhibits aromas of minerality along with lime and green apple. On the palate it is tart, with a little bit of that oily mouth feel typical of Riesling.
“It’s got classic acidity, but it’s not overpowering,” said Richardson.
With an alcohol content of only 12 per cent, this is a great wine for daytime drinking and like almost all Rieslings, its a food-friendly wine that will go with a variety of seafoods, salads and poultry dishes.
Moving south, the Summer Eclectics adds a light-bodied wine from the Rías Baixas region of Spain, just above Portugal. Algareiro Albariño ($19.99) has a unique aroma that is floral and mineral, with hints of citrus. On the palate, it has flavours of apricots and almonds on the finish.
“This is a white wine with some balls,” said Richardson, noting that the Albariño had a luscious mouth feel even though it has a relatively low alcohol content.
The wine would pair well with a variety of seafoods and soups, as well as sushi and other Asian foods.
The Summer Eclectics also offer a dry rosé from the Côtes du Rhône in France. Famille Perrin Réserve ($18.00) is a blend of four grapes – Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah – and has floral and red fruit aromas and flavours of sweet cherries to go with a delicate mouth feel. This is a wine for light foods and salads, but would be excellent as an aperitif on a hot summer day.
No collection of eclectic European wines would be complete without a selection from Italy and the Summer Eclectics offer one made from white wine grape Cortese from the Piedmont region. Cascina La Ghersa’s Gavi ‘Il Poggio’ ($27.99) is a richer wine than the others in the collection and rounds out the Summer Eclectics’ selections. The wine has an intense floral bouquet reminiscent of honeysuckles and offers flavours of tropical fruits on the palate, to go with nice minerality and citrusy acidity. This wine will stand up to heartier summer vegetable meals, pasta dishes with white sauces and entree salads.