What single wine are you particularly enjoying during these warm weeks of summer? What dishes do you pair it with at your restaurant, and how do you use this personal favorite at home?
Pascaline Lepeltier, Wine Director, Rouge Tomate (New York City). If I had to pick a wine for this summer, refreshing and versatile at the same time, I would choose an assyrtiko from Santorini. Assyrtiko is one of these very few grapes that combines an “easy-to-drink” ability and a deep complexity. If you are looking for the perfect match with lime-based crudos, summer vegetable salads and fresh cheeses, you can pick a stainless steel version, like the Domaine Sigalas 2012. Extremely high in acid and with some salty nuances (due to the unique volcanic nature of the soil), the wine can support the bright aspect of the fresh citrus and tomatoes, while being very quaffable.
At Rouge Tomate, I like to pair this style of assyrtiko with Montauk fluke crudo with rhubarb, fennel, ginger and lime. The other style of assyrtiko that is also perfect for the summer is the Nikteri style—a later-harvested wine, oak-aged. The acid structure remains, but it is slightly softened by the oxidative winemaking, which enhances the phenolic character of the grape and gives a little bit more roundness while preserving the salty, dry extract element. This white wine is perfect with very dense fish, and even with meat—white meat, poultry or even duck or lamb. Right now, the 2009 Hatzidakis Nikteri works very well with our rabbit tortellini served with glazed asparagus and carrot and a potato foam. The wine has the structure to stand up to the rabbit farce, while cleaning the fatty aspect and bringing freshness. This unexpected wine can be your best friend for any barbecue party!
Kevin Toyama, Wine Manager/Lead Sommelier, Halekulani (Honolulu). With average summer temperatures of 84 degrees and 65% humidity in Hawaii, a feinherbst-style riesling is a natural for our Pacific-fueled climate.
I’ve recently become enamored with the 2012 Schnaitmann Evoé Rosé from Württemberg, Germany. A dry-style rosé, it is a beguiling alternative to the norm. Made from a blend of pinot noir and trollinger (roughly 80/20) in a saignée style, it offers brisk acerola cherry and raspberry flavors backed by a salty mineral tang.
At our neoclassic French restaurant La Mer, paired with Chef Alexandre Trancher’s Sea Bass with Tomato Confit and Chorizo foam, it invigorates like freshly squeezed citrus and soothes the surge of pimentón. Evoé’s brassy acidity and savory sparkle also complement our chef’s Mediterranean-inspired Lobster Bisque “Marseilles Style.”
Pure, clean and uncomplicated, Evoé is also refreshing to sip at home. One night when a Champagne Blanc de Noir wasn’t cold enough, it slipped in quite nicely with an appetizer of sautéed Opakapaka (pink long-tailed snapper), Raspberry Beurre Blanc and Artichokes.
My favorite food wines tend to be elegant and supple and skate just above the surface of any pairing. Sporting a modest 11.5% alcohol, with no alcoholic bitterness, this is where Evoé’s flavor persistence truly shines.
Virginia Philip, M.S., Master Sommelier, The Breakers (Palm Beach, FL). We enjoy serving the Evolúció 2011 Furmint from Tokaj, Hungary with our “Beans & Greens” with Tuscan Kale, House-Cured Pancetta, Roasted Garlic and Fresh Lemon. This dry Hungarian white is made from 100% furmint grapes grown in the Tokaj region of Hungary’s Zemplén mountain foothills. On the nose there are bright aromas of honeydew melon, ripe green apple and white peach, with notes of fresh asparagus, fennel and minerals. The texture is lush and round, with flavors of Anjou pear, apricot, baked red apple and orange rind. The finish is crisp and refreshing, with hints of white pepper and wet stone.