Summer Fruits of the Vine

Although it appears to be our default mode, summer isn't just about being perpetually out on the town. Some of the greatest joys o...

Although it appears to be our default mode, summer isn't just about being perpetually out on the town. Some of the greatest joys of the season come from firing up the grill, and gathering friends and family in the backyard for some memorable day and night barbecues while sharing stories about being, well, perpetually out of the town.

Whether it was a flirt at Piknik Electronik, that weekend in the Laurentians you’ve been planning, engaging in the endless debate about which is the best coffee in Mile End, or praising the hot new St.Henri restaurant you tried last week, it all goes better with a little vino. 

So thanks to some highly informative and engaging tastings we recently attended (yeah, life is hard, we get it), here's a shortlist of the whites, reds, and pinks that had us take special note, and we think you'll want to seek out on your next SAQ run. Now can we all just clink glasses and praise the thirsty?!

Chardonnay, New Zealand

'Chardy' lovers and those who steer clear because of its richness will more than appreciate this one from Kiwi country. Surprisingly light, the notes are complex and the texture pleasing enough to get over any 'pricey for a white' reaction you may have. The fresh acidity and overall elegance is a marriage made in heaven with grilled tiger prawns. If you manage to get your hands on a 2013, it’s even better. SAQ Code 10954086

Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand

Often appearing on the 'top' lists of pros and amateurs alike 'Kimmy C' has appealed to throngs of the faithful for a long time.  It's a go-to wine for good reason - light, fruity, crisp, straightforward acidity, and overall highly drinkable. It's detractors will call it overrated and overdone, but we're fans for any occasion save the truly 'BYOB to impress'. Best with oysters, asparagus, lobster, or summer salads. SAQ Code 10327701

Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand

This wine just tastes like summer. It’s quite crisp, light, and refreshing with grapefruit notes. It is comparable to Kim C in taste, and a slightly lower price point adds to the appeal. Perfect as an aperitif on its own on the patio while taking in a sunset, it just became available this month at the SAQ. Consider it when seeking out something new to bring to the next bbq, and expect positive guest feedback. SAQ Code 11200868

Honourable Mention from down under...
Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand
Also from the Marlborough region, it's light, fruity, slightly more mineral, and goes down easy. The 2014 is even better than the 2013 we tasted, and contains notes of passion fruit. SAQ Code 11905770

                                                   HOUSE OF MANDELA,
Rosé, South Africa

Owner by Nelson Mandela's daughter and granddaughter, House of Mandela chose Montreal, specifically the Ritz Carlton's posh Blue Room, for the world launch of its rosé last May, since, according to wine connoisseurs, our dear city has a mature palate for rosés. Says the House: “It opens with aromas of cotton candy and strawberry, followed by a note of rose petals. It suggests fresh summer berries and promises feelings reminiscent of the warm African sun.” An added bonus? This wine is fair trade and for every bottle sold, a portion goes to the House of Mandela Family Foundation as well as the Africa Rising FoundationWhen it becomes crazy hot and humid  as we know it will, don’t be shy to add an ice cube or two. SAQ Code 12521647

Pinot Noir Rosé, Germany

Another new arrival at the SAQ, this delicate rosé is sure to a crowd-pleaser with a light aroma of berries, florals, and honey, and yet it's dry with a refreshing acidity and no residual bitterness. Despite being very light in texture it pairs well with meaty seafood - feel free to go high end with fresh lobster, or keep it real by grabbing some smoked salmon and bagels from Fairmount. SAQ Code 11446008

                                                   BAREFOOT MOSCATO
California, USA

Thanks to strategic partnerships and sampling, Barefoot's been a-buzz for a while and their Moscato is a big part of why - not for any high-brow oenophile praise, but for things like the tasty slushies served at their launch event last month. It’s an adaptable, versatile choice (see below for a new take on white sangria), with peach, apricot, and mild citrus flavours that make it quite frankly irresistible. Pair it with a sweet & savoury light summer salad, or a baked cheese with honey, or do what we plan to do: Add ice. Blend. Drink. Enjoy. At $10.75 it's really such a steal, so have it on hand all summer while squirrelling away funds for that much needed beach vacation next winter. Anyone remember the arctic vortex?  We try not to. SAQ Code 11689131

Barefoot Moscato White Sangria (by the glass)

  • 5oz Barefoot Moscato
  • 1oz Sparkling Water
  • ½ Vodka
  • tblsp of frozen berries
  • Ice

California, USA

Barefoot also has a wine cooler with which we're smitten. It’s slightly effervescent, lightly sweet, and it is recommended to drink with ice and a lime wedge. At only 9% alcohol, it won’t send you over the edge in the intense Montreal summer heat (lightweights listen up!) As the name would suggest, this cooler quenches to the core and is happiest with fresh, cool food like sushi. SAQ Code 12206647

Pinot Noir, Germany

Normally we’re white/rosé loyal in summer, but you shouldn't overlook the reds or that perfectly medium-rare ribeye fresh off the coals just wouldn't taste the same.  This is this a lovely Pinot Noir, a fresh, light, elegant red that's dry, slightly fruity, and woody. Its acidity has a refreshing quality, and its texture is broad. It is pricier, so maybe save it for your next hot date, or a special night at home alone. We don’t discriminate. SAQ Code 11207779

Cabernet-Sauvignon, USA

Just as carnivores are on top of the food chain, 'Cabs are King' when it comes to wine. The inky purplish colour gives way to bold, intense fruit aromas, yet with a refined mouthfeel and rich flavours of dark berries, coffee, mocha, and toasted oak. At a recent tasting event at Jack Saloon, boxer (and apparent vino aficionado!) Lucien Bute noted the smooth finish between glasses and photo ops. For a knockout match-up pair with barbecue pork ribs, or bison terrine with fruit chutney. 
SAQ Code 11975090

Agiorgitiko, Greece

We think Kouros is somewhat underrated given its reputation as a BYOB taverna go-to.  This dry red from the Peloponnese region in the south was aged 7 months in French oak and is elegant, medium-bodied, with a core of fresh berries and plums balanced by polished tannins. Food friendly, it pairs well with roasted meats, lamb, or cheeses. SAQ Code 00144576

Assyrtiko-Athiri, Greece

This dry pale yellow white from the Cyclades region in the Aegean Islands features medium floral and fruity scents with broad texture. Drink it well-chilled (7°-9°C) with grilled chicken or fish, seared vegetables like eggplant and zucchini, or any fruity salad with salmon or tuna. SAQ Code 11607377

H.H. & D.G.


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