“It’s a smile, it’s a kiss. It’s a sip of wine, it’s summertime.”
So, what is a summer sipping wine? The hot summer days call for light and refreshing wines with crisp acidity that excites the palate. White wines such as riesling, sauvignon blanc and Lillet Blanc are perfect patio or pool-side sippers.
It’s a rite of passage every summer around our place that Kenny Chensey’s “Summertime” song is played good and loud over our outdoor speakers as I open a bottle of Lillet Blanc.
Summertime is finally here. Before the potato salad, corn on the cob and BBQ’d burgers fill our plates, a glass of Lillet is a must.
Lillet (pronounced lee-lay) is an aperitif made just south of Bordeaux, using 85% sémillon grapes and 15% liqueurs, fruits and herbs. It has fresh, lively citrus flavours, spicy pine resin and honey notes. Just pour Lillet Blanc into a glass over ice, add an orange wedge and serve.
Lillet Blanc is also the base for a “Vesper Martini”. Devoted James Bond fans will recognize this as the drink that Agent 007 ordered in the movie Casino Royale. Bond gave the bartender the following instructions “three measures of Gordon’s gin, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”
Kina Lillet has been reformulated and is now called Lillet. If you would like to make your own version of Bond’s Vesper or perhaps just pour a glass of Lillet over ice for a summer drink like I do, it’s available at many LCBO Vintages locations for $17.95 (LCBO product #322297).
Other Summer Wine Recommendations
An easy dinking, crisp wine for summer time patio sipping is sauvignon blanc. It’s light and refreshing, with zesty grapefruit and grassy notes that quench a summer thirst like no other wine can.
Sauvignon blanc pairs well with grilled shrimp and salads, and is a must-try with pizza topped with goat cheese.
Here are a few sauvignon blanc suggestions that are available at the LCBO.
Creekside Backyard Block 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($17.95, LCBO #341792)
Loaded with aromatic tropical fruit notes and fresh citrus fruit notes. This is summer in a glass!
Thalia Sauvignon Blanc Vilana ($9.95, LCBO #273490)
Greece offers some of the best wine values at the LCBO. This sauvignon blanc, priced under $10, is the deal of the summer. Crisp lemon notes with a lingering finish.
Henri Bourgeois Les Baronnes Sancerre ($24.95, LCBO# 542548)
This Vintages Essential offers classic sauvignon blanc characteristics. Lemon-lime citrus, green pepper, gooseberry, grassy, herbaceous style with lively acidity and a minerality backbone. It’s a classic example of wine from France’s eastern Loire Valley.
Riesling is the Ideal Wine of Summer
Riesling has a bit of a bad reputation. Many still think of it as a cheap, sweet wine, perhaps due to Blue Nun, a German riesling that was one of the first mass-marketed sweeter style wines.
Riesling has come a long way since the 1980’s when Blue Nunn was what we sipped on. Today it is available in many different styles from dry to semi-sweet to icewine. Its vibrant acidity and fruity peach, apple and pear flavours make it an ideal summer wine.
Rieslings from cool climate regions such as France, Germany and Canada offer the lively acidity and modest alcohol levels and are refreshing on hot summer days.
Try these summer sipping rieslings.
Sprucewood Shores 2014 Riesling (VQA Ontario) ($13.95, LCBO #326249)
This semi-dry style riesling offers crisp acidity with fruity green apple and peach flavours. Very versatile, this wine pairs well with barbequed chicken and spicy foods.
RedStone 2012 Limestone Vineyard South Riesling (VQA Twenty Mile Bench) ($18.95, LCBO #381251)
Redstone Winery in Beamsville, Ontario is the latest winery venture of Moray Tawse, in addition to the winery that bears his name.
Tawse Winery in Niagara has broken three national records with its third consecutive “Canadian Winery of the Year” award, plus nine gold medals and total of 32 medals overall in the prestigious Wine Access Magazine Canadian Wine Awards.
The Limestone vineyard was purchased by Tawse in 2012, and it is where the hand-picked grapes are from, in this remarkable riesling.
This is the first Redstone Riesling released from the winery. 2012 offered a warm growing season, allowing for optimal ripeness and exceptional intensity. Harvest was early to preserve the lively acidity. Peach, apple and lime fruit with a kiss of minerality reflect the terroir.
If you buy only one wine this summer, let this one be it!