Sample a bottle or 2 while enjoying the gardens of June
Mid-June's sunny, mild days present marvelous moments to enjoy garden flowers and herbs in full bloom. The time can be especially fun for fans of wine. With a little imagination, each garden's heady perfumes and delightful colors suggest diverse wines ready for enjoyment with delicious dishes.
Few things are more alluring than the haunting scent of honeysuckle on a June evening. The white and yellow blossoms offer a particularly pungent and intoxicating perfume. White wines made from Viognier grapes can bear an uncanny resemblance.
Try Viognier-based wines without excessive aging in new oak barrels. Oak aging can supplant the honeysuckle aromas with toasted wood smells. The 2015 M. Chapoutier, Domaine des Granges de Mirabel Blanc, I.G.P. Coteaux de L'Ardèche, France (Luxury 49839; $19.99 — available in Allegheny County stores only at 1 Oxford Centre, The Waterworks, 3845 Northern Pike and Robinson Town Centre) preserves floral aromas and freshness through fermentation and aging in neutral vats.
The wine comes from Viognier's spiritual home in France's northern Rhône River Valley. Chapoutier's biodynamic vineyard practices eliminate synthetic chemical applications to keep soils vital and fresh. The grapes then must work hard to develop complex, intriguing traits.
The wine's light golden color offers lovely honeysuckle, peach and citrus aromas. Delicious, ripe peach and citrus flavors balance with zesty acidity and a touch of creaminess. The wine finishes fruity yet dry. Pair it with Shrimp and Black Cod Ceviche with a touch of spiciness. Highly recommended.
Perennial heuchera — known commonly as “coral bells” — add vivid shades of pink and cassis to gardens in June. The delicate, lacy flowers blossom in bunches on thin stems reaching 2 or 3 feet high.
Coral bells call to mind the enchanting salmon pink colors of refreshingly dry rosé wines. The 2016 Les Vignerons de Cases de Pène, Penya Rosé, I.G.P. Côtes Catalanes, France (Luxury 15946; $9.99 — widely available at Premium Collection Stores) offers a perfect, reasonably priced choice.
The wine comes from a cooperative producer in France's southwestern region of Roussillon, which is also known as “French Catalonia.” Against the dramatic backdrop of the Pyrénées Mountains, the region's ruggedly beautiful landscape features a marvelous blend of sun, persistent winds and stony geology perfect for grape growing.
Vineyards perch on rocky rolling hillsides and terraces. The soils include complex blends of clay, limestone and sedimentary shale mixed with colorful quartz and mica schists. Aromatic wild lavender, thyme and rosemary perfume the air.
This wine uses primarily Grenache and a dash of Mourvèdre. The grape juice has limited skin contact prior to fermentation to give the wine is delightful salmon pink color. The wine offers ripe raspberry aromas leading to vibrant, ripe berry and citrus flavors. Zesty minerality balances the dry, fruity finish. Pair it with grilled salmon steaks. Highly recommended.
The unmistakable, subtle scents of roses in bloom on a mid-June morning provide another delightful experience. Red wines made with northwestern Italy's Ruchè grape offer a similar experience. Try the 2015 Bersano, “San Pietro Realto,” Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato D.O.C.G, Italy (Luxury 78388; Chairman's Selection On Sale: $13.99).
The grapes for this wine grow on picturesque rolling hillsides in the Piedmont region's Asti province. And like wines made from Nebbiolo grapes in the more famous neighboring appellations of Barolo and Barbaresco, this wine's infatuating aromas bely underlying depth.
The wine's deep ruby color offers aromas of roses and brown spices. Ripe, red fruit flavors follow balanced with zesty acidity and ample, yet smooth tannins. Pair it with hanger steak marinated with soy sauce, sesame seeds, chopped shallots, minced garlic and a touch of honey. Highly Recommended.
Lavender's vivid purple color and singular pungent aroma readily evoke southern France's sunny Mediterranean countryside. This exact landscape produces the delicious 2014 Château de Lancyre, Coteaux du Languedoc — Pic Saint Loup “Vielle's Vignes,” France (Luxury 21964; $19.99).
The Syrah and Grenache grapes used grow on clay mixed with limestone fragments at relatively high altitudes. This creates cool a nighttime climate which promotes natural fruitiness.
The dark purple color offers aromas of black cherries, black pepper and réglisse — black liquorice. Juicy, ripe fruit flavors balance with fresh acidity and soft tannins. Pair the wine with grilled burgers. Highly recommended.
Dave DeSimone writes about wine for the Tribune-Review. Reach him at email@example.com.