SWEET SUMMER NIGHTS
By Jim Scribner, Polaris Manager
As the weather warms during the dog days of summer, the mix of varietals that tend to find their way to the table changes dramatically.
Just as you are unlikely to open the dresser drawer that contains your collection of sweaters in August, so are you less likely to be raiding your wine cellar for the biggest and most full-bodied reds.
Pinot noir will more often than not replace syrah and cabernets, and brighter and citrusy whites find a much broader audience, while chardonnay takes a backseat. Additionally, rosés of all stripes begin to enjoy their day in the sun.
We're not talking about the white zinfandels of days past—those overly sweet and wine-cooler-like blush wines made ubiquitous by the likes of Gallo and Sutter Home—but much more interesting and complex wines made from any number of different grapes.
Traditionally, the French have favored the use of grenache and cinsault; the Spanish, garnacha and tempranillo; the Italians, sangiovese; and for North America, particularly Oregon, pinot noir—the ideal grape that creates a perfect rosé.
One example of how wonderfully pinot noir lends itself to the production of rosé can be found on the glass pour list in Polaris. Lachini Vineyards in Oregon has made a rosé from 100 percent pinot noir sourced from their Estate Vineyard. The result is a bigger, off-dry blush wine that is brimming with fresh summer fruit flowers and acutely balanced acidity.
You will find layers of strawberry, watermelon and grapefruit in the glass, and it pairs wonderfully with any number of summertime dishes, particularly grilled chicken and salmon.
As refreshing as a great glass of rosé can be on the deck in Polaris, my personal favorite during the Northwest's hot August evenings is a perfectly balanced glass of sauvignon blanc, with its bracing acidity and strong citrus and gooseberry tones.
While some of the world's best examples of sauvignon blanc come from the Loire valley in France, where the limestone soils of Sancerre lend an unmistakable mineral quality, and from the wineries of New Zealand, where it's known for its passion fruit and grapefruit nuances, Washington state is quietly gaining a reputation as a sauvignon blanc producer of note, as well.
In Washington you can find wines expressing the varietal that range from extremely flinty and citrus driven, to those that are much more herbal and vegetal, and everything in between.
Additionally, some Washington producers are adding varying percentages of sémillon to their sauvignon blancs in order to produce Bordeaux-style whites of great vibrancy and complexity (Buty and DeLille Cellars come to mind). In these wines, the addition of the sémillon lends a honeyed richness to the immediate crisp and lively charm of the sauvignon blanc.
Polaris offers you the opportunity to experience what these wines embody, as the DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate Blanc is available by the glass. This wine exhibits "sweet grass and herbs…guava and citrus" and a perfect balance of juicy acidity and richness.
So don't wait a minute longer. Grab some friends, head to the Club and join us on the deck to sample some of the lighter offerings from our wine list in order to help wash away the late-summer doldrums.
Jim Scriber is the Polaris Manager at the Bellevue Club