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Column: Three Wines to Celebrate the Beginning of Summer!

Wines offering a taste of sunshine.

Summer starts this Tuesday and today’s wine selection will bring the sunshine into your life, even on a cloudy day! Let’s begin with a rich red, the St. Hallett  2018 Faith Shiraz ($25.99; 90 points, Outstanding.)

The Faith hails from the most famous wine region in Australia: the Barossa Valley. I was aware of the valley back in the 1970’s when there was no Shiraz imported from Australia in BC.

When I later had the opportunity to go on a teaching exchange, I chose to go to South Australia because that’s where the Barossa is located. I ended up in Adelaide, the capital of South Aussie, but it’s only a 40-minute drive to the most revered wine region in Oz.

The Barossa is home to some of the world’s oldest vines, surviving from the 1840’s when Silesian Lutherans first put down roots here. It’s ancient vines like these and the region’s warm, dry climate that makes Barossa Shiraz one of the world’s great red wines: rich, ripe, full-bodied and spicy.

The Faith displays a deep dark opaque colour in the glass with a rich bouquet of ripe black and blue fruit, vanilla, and cedar with hints of leather and savoury scents. On the palate expect dark berry fruit (blueberry, blackberry) with fresh acidity and slightly grippy tannins. Black pepper with a kiss of chocolate and a very long finish complete this generous palate. Decant for several hours if not overnight for the complexity to reveal itself. Enjoy with hamburgers, grilled tuna, or rack of lamb.

Our next wine is the opposite in style from the Shiraz. It’s the Bottega Prosecco Treviso il Vino dei Poeti Brut Rosé ($19.99; 89 points. Very good.) Proseccos are Italy’s most popular wine and I prefer the rosés. Rosés are something you first taste with your eyes and then with your taste buds. So take time to admire the gorgeous colour before you take a taste. Made from Glera and Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) grapes in the Veneto region of northeast Italy, the Bottega has a  pale pink/orange colour that is just meant for admiring first and then for sipping and celebrating summer!

There are floral aromas along with stone fruit and citrus with a creamy mousse of bubbles. On the palate there’s delicate apricot, apple, peach and orange flavours with a light body and ample freshness ending on a dry finish.

Excellent as an aperitif, Bottega pairs well with prosciutto and melon, risotto, sushi, pizza, and Pan Bagnet Sliders or “bathed bread” from Provence.

Our final review this week is Tohu 2021 Sauvignon Blanc (90 points; Outstanding) from the Awatere Valley in Marlborough, New Zealand. Tohu is New Zealand’s first Maori owned winery.

When I went to New Zealand in 1979, I was disappointed with the mediocre quality wines. Like B.C., they were using hybrid grapes to make unimpressive German Style wines. As in our province, the Kiwi government finally paid farmers to replace their inferior hybrids and plant Viniferas like Sauvignon Blanc.

By the 1980’s Marlborough was producing superior Sauvignon Blanc. And in 1985, Cloudy Bay garnered international attention and put New Zealand on the world wine map; several international wine critics claimed Cloudy Bay was the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world! Today, two-thirds of New Zealand’s vineyards are planted with SB

The Tohu SB is pale yellow and has a bold tropical fruit and peach aroma. On the palate there’s passion fruit, lemon and lime, grapefruit, guava with a lengthy herbal and grassy dry finish. There’s vibrant acidity along with salinity to add to the complexity, which makes this white delicious to enjoy and makes it such a great accompaniment to food.

I fondly remember going to a New Zealand tasting where we sampled several SB’s including Cloudy Bay with lunch. One superb combo was curried mussels and Sauvignon Blanc. Other popular pairings involve asparagus, artichokes, chicken, goat cheese and Alsatian Muenster, and Greek salad.

Today’s wines are available at all Richmond BC Liquor Stores and will be perfect for your summer enjoyment.