Wines for Late Summer
This late summer sommelier selection is focused on unexpected wines with a significant amount of age. One of the greatest pleasures of working in wine is discovering that wine really can hold up with a decade or more of age, and that it often becomes more interesting as a result. I've picked several wines that demonstrate this phenomenon, which is one of the reasons I began working in wine in the first place. It's the storytelling and remembrance of the year, combined with the actual physical characteristics of the wine. That's what keeps me coming back. Enjoy these picks, and happy shopping!
Jackson's Somm Picks
I first served this wine to a guest at my restaurant alma mater, Canlis, in Seattle, Washington. It was a cellared wine that had finally become drinkable about 14 years after harvest, and the guest relished its balance, lift, and silky texture. I agree with them that it's a perfect representation of ripe yet balanced Bordeaux, and a great way to experience 20 year old Claret without having to break the bank. Notes of plum, tobacco, chocolate and cherry help carry the lengthy finish.
Do you remember years ago, when Tuscany seemed to be printing out new, interesting wineries by the dozen? Typically, these were outsider-run jobs, ripe wines that were based on Super Tuscan formulas, or creative uses of Sangiovese married to oak and extraction. Tenuta di Trinoro fits into this category, pursuing a riper and more powerful vision of Sangiovese in Tuscany. The wines have always been low-quantity, and are good in their own merit, despite any hype attached to them. This 2011 is a vintage that plays to their style and is an excellent late summer wine. They have always been fans of ripe, unctuous wines with structure, and this is a case in point.
Take one of the ripest and most powerful reds in northern Italy, and then marry that to one of the most ripe and luscious vintages, and you'll have Romano dal Forno Superiore. It's the 2009 vintage, which has now just started to really show what it can do. Ripe, spicy, plummy, and complex, what better way to enjoy this 2009 than in a large format?
This is one of the lesser known Têtes de Cuvée bottlings in Champagne, but wow it's a special one. Bottled always at extra brut, it receives about ten years of lees aging. So the wine is precise and brilliant with acidity, yet carries a wonderfully rich and silky palate presence along with it. Bruno Paillard's history doesn't go back to the 1800s like many Champagne houses, but they are producing some of the most gorgeous classically-styled Champages in the market right now. Finding one with more than 20 years of bottle age is often a challenge, and I highly recommend checking out this bottling on a warm late summer evening.
This stretch in the late 80s and early 90s was the "WITNESS ME" moment for Lynch-Bages in the modern era. The 1988s were wonderfully balanced, the 1990s brimming with power and intensity. The 1989 struck a wonderful balance between power and finesse, and these wines have continued to hold their own even with decades of age on them. At this stage, 89s are peaking, and now is a perfect time to enjoy them while they're in their tertiary sweet spot.
View more of Jackson’s hand-picked wine selections here:
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