Bacchic Reflections

“Oh, the eager joy of vintage, the haste to cast into the wine press on the same day both the ripe grape and the verjus, the rhythm which leaves far behind the ample, dreamy cadence of harvest, the pleasure, redder than other pleasures, the songs and drunken shouts!”
                                                                          La Naissance du Jour

  Harvest: when the vines exult in ripeness, yielding up their gold and ruby treasures to make wine, a song of the earth warmed by the sun.

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Great Summer Cocktail:  Basil Squeeze at Washington Duke Inn
While it would be best enjoyed on the delightful terrace at WaDu in Durham--with its comfortable blue lounge chairs and sofas and vistas of undulating green (cooling just to look at) -- you would also enjoy it at home using North Carolina's own sweet potato vodka:  Covington®
Anna Honeycutt, assistant manager at WaDu's Bull Durham Bar created this very refreshing cocktail:                                                              

Basil Squeeze


1 ½ oz. Covington Sweet Potato Vodka

¾ oz. St.-Germain

3 basil leaves

Lemon wedge

1 oz. lemon juice

2 oz. club soda or San Pellegrino


Muddle lemon wedge and two basil leaves in a

Collins glass with vodka and St. Germain. Add

lemon juice, fill with ice and shake. Top with

more ice and club soda. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf.
Note:  I used lime instead of lemon, but both work great!
My summer/fall wine stash is never without these!  So versatile with so many seasonal foods -- so fresh, lively, crisp and tasty.  My favorite--when it's made right--is dry rosé of pinot noir, and this one was a delightful surprise:  Spätburgunder Rosé 2013 von Buhl, $17-20. Pinot noir in Germany makes a good light red, but this dry rosé is exceptional! Find it by the glass at G2B in Durham.
Others to look for:
Domaine Houchart 2013, Provence   $13.99
Château de Campuget 2013, Rhône Valley  $12.99
Chinon Rosé 2013  Bernard Baudry    Loire Valley  $17-19
Domaine Fontsainte 'Gris de Gris 2013  Corbières  $14.99

Château de Trinquevedel 2013, Rhône Valley,  $18.95

Wine Buy(s) of the Week
Barista Chardonnay 2013  South Africa  $15**+ 
Very good value for this fresh, crisp Chardonnay from the Cape Peninsula. A bit on the steely side (which makes it a good match with shellfish), with a light touch of  oak that rounds off the citrus and green apple flavors.  Look for the distinctive black-and-white tile capsule atop the bottle.
Trione Chardonnay 2011  Russian River Valley** $19-22  The  light touch of oak in this chardonnay lends grace and an extra dimension of flavor--hints of vanilla, spice and ripe pear make it a natural with filets of snapper, flounder, tilapia, monkfish, also shrimp or chicken breast in white wine sauce.
Macon La Roche Vineuse Château de la Greffière 2013 Burgundy  France $15-18**+    People who say they don't like Chardonnay just haven't had the good ones (granted, there are too many poor ones). This one is such pleasant sipping I'd suggest keeping a few bottles on hand--it makes a delightful aperitif  but its dry piquant flavors --  unoaked -- are also a nice match with seafoods, such as scallops, shrimp or mahi-mahi.

Uruguay.  I remember drinking wines from Uruguay years ago--they were cheap but drier than most American jug wines. Uruguayan  wines have come a long way since then, with upgraded vineyards and a wider variety of grapes, but they still offer excellent value. Bodega Garzón's young vineyards drape across hills dotted with palm trees, and produce bright, tasty wines. Here are a few to look for:  (see also red wines below):
Bodega Garzón Albariño 2013 **+  $15-17  Crisp and lively, with appealing floral scents, it's a natural for fish and seafood.  Garzón 2013 Sauvignon Blanc is drier, with citrus and grapefruit flavors, a good choice for shellfish

Season of Apples--
Cider, fermented crushed appels, is a great change of pace from beer and wine. Foggy Ridge First Fruits and Serious Cider are two of my favorites--both on the drier side so they work nicely with food--but wonderfully apple-y, which makes them terrific with Gouda and other semisoft cheeses.

Dry Creek Dry Cheinin Blanc 2013, Clarksburg***  $12    Crisp and enticing, this Chenin is consistently outstanding and a terrific value. Versatile for all sorts of warm weather foods, from shellfish to chicken to smoked ham or turkey. Delightful aperitif, paired with goat cheese or a mild blue.

Columbia Crest 2013 H3 Sauvignon Blanc Washington**+ 
$13-15. A very young Sauvignon from east Washington's Horse Heaven Hills (H3). Give this one a chance--it's somewhat exotic, with lots of grassy notes, lime blossom, lime zest and  other intriguing herby flavors. It will work with food, but I liked it best just on its own as an aperitif, maybe with goat cheese bruschetta.

Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Dry Creek Valley ***$17-18  This one is flying off the shelves--due no doubt to that piquant and spicy addition of sauvignon musqué to the blend. Excellent with shellfish and pasta with asparagus or seafood.

Summer Reds --
Anton Bauer Cuvée 2012, Wagram  Austria   $16-17**+  
A juicy blended red that is great for grilling; an excellent match for the lighter meats (veal, pork, chicken) but an appealing richness suits beef as well as savory cheese dishes.  Anton Bauer 2012 Pinot Noir, $20, is also very good with nice Pinot intensity.
Beaujolais-Villages 2013, France **+  $11-15    The gamay grape makes perhaps the quintessential summer red that segues nicely into fall: Beaujolais. Fruit-driven, with aromas and flavors of ripe berries, it is best served lightly cooled, which makes the fruit all the more appealing. Wines labeled Beaujolais or Beaujolais-Villages are the lightest of the region, so look for 2013s. Cru Beaujolais, named for the villages where they are grown (Brouilly, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon and others), are a cut above, and each has its own distinctions.
Joseph Drouhin Brouilly 2011*** is a charmer, very aromatic, appetizing berry fruit, perfect for grilled chicken, glorified burgers, smoked meats--as well as just for sipping on the deck--best lightly cooled.

Bodegas Garzón Tannat 2012  Uruguay**+  $15-18  Tannat produces a somewhat rustic, tannic red in southwest France; you may know it in wines like Madiran, often paired with cassoulet. In the New World, however, the fruit is juicier, still tannic but warmer and richer. It is grown not only in Uruguay but in the U.S. mid-Atlantic. An excellent choice for grilled steak or lamb, as well as aged mountain cheeses.

Gloria Ferrer Carneros Pinot Noir 2010   Carneros-Sonoma*** $22-27   Pinot Noir is one of my frequent picks for summer, partiuclarly the lighter ones that go so well with grilled salmon, smoked meats and numerous cheeses.  The Gloria Ferrer (an estate best known for very good sparkling wines) 2010 has signature fruit profile of Carneros:  cherries and berries, with the merest hint of tannin, nice balance, very chearming.
Estancia Pinot Noir 2012, Monterey   $16-17 **   The Estancia is one of the lighter ones, but still has the spicy fruit flavors that suit grilled salmon, smoked meats, roast ham and numerous cheeses. Good value.

Tomero Malbec 2012, Argentina  $13**  A smooth, juicy, full-bodied (but not heavy) Malbec; hand-picked grapes from highland vineyards above Mendoza. A very quaffable red--and great value. Tomero also makes a Cabernet Sauvignon, but it's somewhat angular at the moment and needs a few years in bottle; good value for the future drinking.


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                                                                                                                                             ©Barbara Ensrud