The unofficial start of summer is just days away. As you prepare to fire up the grill, slather on the sunscreen and celebrate with family and friends, don’t forget to stock up on some great vino for your long holiday weekend. Let’s also take a moment to pause and raise a glass to salute our fallen heroes and their families and give thanks for our freedom.
From California to Virginia, I have selected 10 all American wines under $30 that are perfect for the backyard or the beach!
Taste of the States
Gruet Extra Dry, New Mexico ($15) – This sparkler is perfect for entertaining. The Gruet family comes from Champagne, France and they are producing excellent sparkling wines using the traditional method. Sparkling wines boast vibrant acidity that is light and refreshing and a perfect pairing with many different cuisines. This wine reminds me of summer. Gorgeous notes of juicy peach and vibrant sweet lime juice remind me of a peach margarita with effervescence. Creamy and dry on the finish with a touch of honeysuckle sweetness. Keep in mind that brut is actually the driest form of sparkling not dry.
Pair with sushi, ceviche, fish tacos, grilled seafood, chicken & pork
2013 Abiouness Rosé, Carneros, California ($20) – This rosé made from Pinot Noir is a perfect go to wine this summer. It’s fruity, dry & crisp.
Pairs with grilled seafood, grilled chicken, picnic fare & cheese plates
2013 Charles & Charles Rosé, Columbia Valley, Washington State ($12) – This dry fruity rosé from Washington State uses Rhone varietals (Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache & Cinsault). Sweet summer raspberries, cherry, rosemary, hints of rose petals and a touch of spice are prominent on the nose. The palate is reminscint of strawberry shortcake – creamy & delicious! A Wine Spectator best value.
Pair with grilled salmon with cherry glaze, grilled shrimp, chicken, picnic fare & delicate cheeses like brie & feta
2012 Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc, Napa, California ($17) – Sauvignon Blancs remind of summertime. Notes of fresh cut grass and citrus remind me of the backyard barbecues of my childhood. This wine is part of the Caymus collection. Aromas of lemon curd, lime zest, fleshy grapefruit, pear and wet stone are dominant on the nose. A wine with vibrant acidity makes it a perfect food partner.
Pair with Chicago style hot dogs (with pickles & celery seed), hummus, shrimp cocktail, grilled seafood & goat cheese
Chatham Vineyards Church Creek “Steel” Chardonnay Eastern Shore, Virginia ($17) – Yes, you read this right, a Virginia Chardonnay! Chatham uses dijon clones in this lovely wine from the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Delicate aromas of juicy pear, gala apple, lemon curd and melon lead to a dry crisp and refreshing finish on the palate. This wine drinks more like a Burgundy than an American Chardonnay.
Pair with grilled seafood, sushi, oysters and peel & eat shrimp.
Jefferson Viognier, Charlottesville, Virginia ($28) – It doesn’t get more American than wines that bear the Thomas Jefferson namesake. Jefferson painstakingly tried to make wine for more than 30 years and never produced a single bottle. Things have certainly changed over the past 200 years at his Charlottesville estate. Viognier is Virginia’s signature grape. Similar in body to a Chardonnay with a beautiful aromatic nose similar to a Riesling. This wine is a crowd pleaser. Notes of stone & tropical fruit are dominant on the nose with a hint of orange blossom. The palate boasts sweet pineapple, kiwi, ripe peach, lemon & lime with a hint of white pepper. The wine has a dry, creamy finish.
Pair with grilled swordfish or crab cakes with a pinepple salsa or try it with Thai food.
Eroica Riesling, Washington State ($20) – An amazing partnership between the king of German Riesling Dr. Loosen and a premiere Washington State producer Chateau Ste. Michelle have created an exquisite American Riesling. This off dry Riesling boasts aromas of mandarin orange, baked spiced apples and a hint of stone fruit that gives way to a palate with refreshing acidity. A touch of residual sugar makes this an excellent pairing with spicy foods. Love this with a Chesapeake Baja Burger!
Pairs with Thai food, sushi, an array of seafood & salads
Talbott Kali Hart Pinot Noir, Monterey, California ($20) – This 100% estate grown fruit is a tremendous value. Finding a good Pinot Noir for $20 or less is like finding a needle in a haystack. They are one of the most finicky grapes to grow, often called the heartbreak grape. Winemaker Dan Karslen spent most of his career working in Burgundy, France and has a certain finesse when it comes to crafting good quality Pinot. The Kali Hart is Talbott’s entry level Pinot and what a delight it is! On the nose you’ll discover cranberry, plum & raspberry with hint of baking spice and vanilla. Great value! If you want to splurge a little, pick up a bottle of the Talbott Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Pinot Noir ($40).
Pair with grilled chicken marinated in balsamic dressing or grilled salmon on a cedar plank
Writer’s Block Syrah, Lake County, California ($16) This California Syrah is more similar to the Rhone Valley style rather than Australian Shiraz. This wine has notes of dark berries, dusty violet, bacon, pepper with hints of mocha. This a nice value Syrah. Grab a bacon bleu cheeseburger and a glass of this and you will have a party on your palate!
Pair with ribs, burgers and steaks
Plungerhead Zinfandel, Lodi, California ($15) – A good value Old Vine Zinfandel. Layers of baked black and red fruit with vanilla, pepper, sweet spice and hazelnut are apparent on the nose. The palate of baked spiced fruit with dark chocolate does not disappoint. The winemaker uses a blend of American & French oak.
Pair with short rib sliders with bacon blue slaw, spicy grilled sausages & burgers