Whether you’re Labor Day party is in the back yard, on the beach or lakeside, informality and inexpensive wines rule. Here are some bottles to help you bid farewell to summer and white linen.
Created 45 years ago by Jean Pierre Perrin, owner of the world renowned Chateau de Beaucastel, La Vieille Ferme red and white still wines have been good-value selections since arriving in American decades ago. Treat yourself and guests to their new sparkling wines.
The nonvintage La Vieille Ferme Reserve Sparkling Brut and Reserve Rose are created by the Method Contemporaine that the Perrin Family developed after five years of research. Unlike the Charmat method, which pumps gas into still wine, or the traditional method of creating the bubbles in the bottle with a second fermentation (used for Champagne), La Vieille Ferme’s sparkling wines capture the CO2 created during the fermentation of the still wine, then reintroduce it to the wine just before bottling, producing refined bubbles.
Made from only chardonnay, the La Vieille Ferme Reserve Sparkling Brut has a toasted nut aroma, and nectarine and lime flavors with a dry, mineral finish that is more elegant than wines made by the Charmat method.
Its sibling, the translucent, tangerine-tinted Reserve Rose is a blend of grenache, cinsault and pinot noir, offering lively red-fruit aromas and flavors with a generous, round texture and dry finish. Both La Vieille Ferme sparkling wines are rated 88 points, and carry the good-value price of $14 to $18. At the lower end of the range, they offer exceptional value.
And if you want a clean, fresh, fashionably pink-colored rose, look no further than the 2017 La Vieille Ferme Rose. Its lemon-thyme scent, cherry and strawberry flavors with a clean, fresh acidity finish make this the perfect summer wine. 89 points. And with prices ranging from $6 to $11 you can load your ice tub with this incredible good-value wine.
Alsace is nearly synonymous with white wine and one of the region’s best everyday wines is pinot blanc and an ideal choice for summer parties. The 2016 Maison Willm Pinot Blanc has pleasing mild fruit and floral aromas, and its soft texture with pear and lemon flavors has a slight off-dry finish. It’s a perfect sipping wine on a hot day and a friend to vinaigrette salad dressings. 88 points. Prices range from $11 to $16; good value starts at less than $14.
One way to find an enjoyable red wine in warm weather is to choose one from a warm to hot climate: Chances are Mother Nature has selected the right grapes and human nature has found the way to adapt the winemaking to the climate. Such is the case with Gaia winery and the agiorgitiko (Ah-yor-YEE-te-ko) grape.
Gaia (pronounced Yay-ya) is a winery founded in 1994 by Leon Karatsalos and Yiannis Paraskevopoulos in the Greek Nemea region. More than a decade ago, I visited their winery and tasted the wines created by Paraskevipoulos, who has a Ph.D. from the enology program at the University of Bordeaux.
The 2016 Gaia Agiorgitiko is black-cherry-colored with pronounced blackberry and rosemary-like scents. Its vanilla taste from aging six months in French oak barrels is layered on to the blackberry- and mulberry-flavored fruit that has a spicy accent and round, balanced tannins. This wine is ideal for grilled chicken, steaks and hamburgers. 90 points. Prices range from $17 to $24. Good value is found at less than $20.
Any of these “labor of love” wines will make a holiday out of your Labor Day. Cheers!
Photos by John Foy