Wine Reviews: Summer Sippers <$20

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 05-27-2018

It’s not officially summer just yet, but it sure feels like it here on the East Coast. And it’s Memorial Day weekend, which means I’ll be grilling, rain or shine. I have been receiving a lot of budget- and summer-friendly wines of late that I wanted to share, so I grouped them together into this report based on several factors.

Price: I think of summer sippers as those $20 and under bottles that you can pour generously with friends on a summer day. Easy-drinking aesthetic: These are wines that stylistically jive with a picnic, a pool, patio, or beach, wines that don’t require aging, decanting, or much serious thought, yet still provide deliciousness and pleasure. Availability: Most of these wines (some more than others) are quite widely available in markets around the country.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. 

White

2017 Trivento Torrontés White Orchid Reserve- Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $11
Light yellow color. Wow, what an explosive white peach, lychee and guava nectar on the nose, with white flowers. Juicy texture, refreshing acidity, dry and fresh but the fruit is tropical and nectary, with guava, lychee, and ripe white peaches. Notes of honeysuckle, dandelion and other wild flowers. Quite nice for the price. (86 points)

2017 Concha y Toro Sauvignon Blanc Casillero del Diablo Reserva- Chile, Casablanca Valley
SRP: $12
Pale lemon color. Aromas burst with grapefruit and limes, along with spicy white pepper and sliced jalapenos. Plump white peach fruit, pineapple, limes, a bright white flower and daisy note, along with some whipped honey and some spicy white pepper and cut floral stem notes. Friendly, accessible stuff, and a good value. (85 points)

2017 Tasca D’Almerita Sicilia Regaleali Bianco- Italy, Sicily, Sicilia
SRP: $11
Lemon colored with aromas of peaches, pineapples, yellow flowers and honey. Crisp throughout but plump with lots of tropical fruit (pineapple, cantaloupe, green melon, drizzled with lime). I get notes of spicy nettles and white pepper, along with some honeyed white tea. Pretty, zesty, crowd-pleasing, this would be a great summer or sushi white, wonderful value here. A blend of Inzolia, Grecanico and Catarratto. (87 points)

2017 Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio- Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Alto Adige – Südtirol
SRP: $18
Pale yellow color. Super peach aromas with guava, limes, notes of dusty limestone and white pepper. Textural depth on the palate is quite nice, crisp but fleshy, with tart lines, pineapples and white peach fruit, generous but tangy. Some stone mineral notes, fresh laundry, and white pepper elements make this a crisp, easy-drinking but solidly complex Pinot Grigio. (88 points)

2017 Nine Hats Riesling - Washington, Columbia Valley
SRP: $14
Pale lemon color. Aromas of lemon peel, nectarine, white peach, with a salty, floral perfume combination. Plump texture but refreshing acidity, there’s a nice mixture of tart lemon/lime peel notes with a richer pineapple and mango. Notes of honey, floral potpourri and sea salt. Not too deep, but a perfect dry picnic Riesling that should please a lot of palates. (87 points)

2017 Nine Hats Pinot Gris - Wahington, Columbia Valley
SRP: $14
Light gold color. Nose of daisies, honeysuckle and floral perfume with ripe peaches and pears. Zesty, medium-bodied, a light and fresh appeal with peaches and pineapple flavors. Notes of orange blossoms and lilies. Fun, fresh, fruity, crowd-pleasing stuff. (86 points)

Rosé

2017 Tasca D’Almerita Sicilia Regaleali Rosé - Italy, Sicily, Sicilia
thumbnailSRP: $15
Deep copper color. Nose of nectarines, peaches, apricots, lots of blossoms and spiced white tea, a sea salt note. Punchy and juicy but tangy on the palate with crisp, salty, oceanic influences throughout. Juicy nectarines, blood orange, yellow plums, along with notes of roses and spiced tea. This is delicious rose of Nerello Mascalese, and a total steal at this price. (89 points)

2017 Chronic Cellars Pink Pedals- California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
SRP: $15
Rick pink color. Nose shows strawberry jam, watermelon candies, roses, plump and rich on the nose. Rich texture, a juicy and forward pink with watermelon and cherries and raspberries. Notes of roses and cinnamon candies. Forward, punchy style, but well-made and fun. Grenache with 13% Syrah. (86 points)

Red

2016 Bodega Amalaya Malbec- Argentina, Salta
SRP: $16
Rich purple color. Aromas are plummy and full of blackberry, along with mocha, incense cones, charcoal and scorched earth. Medium+ bodied with smooth tannins and medium acidity. Tart plums and black currants mix nicely with roasted coffee, rocky soil, notes of cedar and vanilla. Fun stuff but it shows some moderate complexity. Includes 10% Tannat and 5% Petit Verdot. (88 points)

2016 Peter Zemmer Pinot Nero Rolhüt- Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Alto Adige – Südtirol
SRP: $18
Light ruby color. Fresh and vibrant aromas of red cherries, strawberries, rose petals, white pepper, spicy herbs. Medium-bodied, fleshy tannins a crisp and chilled approach with strawberries and raspberries, backed up by notes of spiced tea, rose petals and rhubarb. Brisk and fun but quite a bit going on here, too. (88 points)

2015 Steele Wines Writer’s Block Grenache- California, North Coast, Lake County
SRP: $18
Medium ruby color. Aromas of juicy cherries, raspberries and plums along with smoky herbs, rose petals, red apple peel, and cinnamon spice. Medium+ bodied with easy tannins and medium acidity, this is an accessible wine, but not simple. Roasted herbs, tobacco, roses, coffee, this is easy-drinking and fun but shows complexity. All Grenache aged 11 months in French and Hungarian oak, 15% new. (88 points)

2015 Steele Wines Writer’s Block Syrah - California, North Coast, Lake County
SRP: $18
Deep ruby, light purple color. A burst of smoky mesquite, black pepper and earth on the nose, along with tart black currants and plums. Full-bodied but fresh with lively acidity and dusty tannins, all woven together nicely. Black cherries and blackberry, laced with cocoa, mesquite, black pepper and violets. Not super deep, but — wow! — this Syrah packs a lot for the price. Sourced from the Cana Springs Vineyard on an eastern slope of the Mayacamas, this wine sees 12 months in 15% new French and Hungarian oak. (89 points)

2015 Steele Wines Writer’s Block Cabernet Sauvignon- California, North Coast, Lake County
SRP: $18
Light purple color. Nose shows crushed currants, tangy plums, along with eucalyptus, tobacco, cedar — lovely aromas. Medium-bodied with surprisingly structured tannins and medium acidity, the wine shows flesh and grip. Plums and currants mixed with tobacco, eucalyptus, violet petals, scorched earth and cocoa. So good for the money, and this can actually age for a few years. Lovely. Sourced from two vineyards in the Clear Lake AVA, and one in Red Hills. (89 points)

2016 Nine Hats Red- Washington, Columbia Valley
SRP: $20
Rich purple color. Nose of plums, roasted currants, blackberry jam, some smoke oak, vanilla, coffee. Soft tannins on the palate, medium-bodied, medium acid. Silky and chewy with plums, black cherries and blackberries. Cocoa, cedar, earth and anise. Sweet fruit but fun stuff. Cabernet with 25% apiece of Merlot and Syrah. (85 points)

2016 Nine Hats Cabernet Sauvignon- Washington, Columbia Valley
SRP: $20
Bright purple. Tangy red and black currants and cherries with sweet coffee, cocoa powder and cola aromas. Plush and juicy on the palate with medium-soft tannins and medium acidity. Chewy black cherry and blueberry fruit, with coffee grounds, cocoa powder and toasty oak. Easy-drinking, more complex than a lot of Cabs at this price point. Includes some Syrah, Petit Verdot and Merlot. (87 points)

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