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Summer planning is overrated, especially at this point in the season. Now is the time to simply get out and enjoy, to catch some remaining carefree days and rays before the schedules of September roll in.
In this spirit, here are three wines that came across the tasting desk recently, all ready to pair with good time get-togethers and sunlit gatherings.
Lubanzi 2021 Chenin Blanc, South Africa
($16.97 on sale until Sept. 2, #398011)
Chenin Blanc is an often underappreciated grape. Whether from the hillsides of the Loire in France to — in this case — the wine valleys of South Africa, it’s a versatile cultivar that can be made into a wide array of wine styles. Lubanzi offers classic Chenin notes of white flower and citrus with a touch of honey. It’s rich to start with engaging texture, but freshness stays on a lingering, citrusy finish. A bottle of this paired with rotisserie chicken right off the barbecue — or picked up from the supermarket — and a sunset makes for a perfect summer setup.
Bottom line: B, Braai approved!
Amalaya 2020 Malbec, Argentina
($22.49 on sale until Sept. 2, #168294)
In Argentina high-altitude vineyards are prized for producing elegant fruit, and Amalaya is made from grapes grown nearly 1,800 metres above sea level. In fact, this punchy red hails specifically from the Calchaquí Valley, an arid region in Argentina’s northwest tucked into the Andean foothills known for having the country’s highest vineyards. Plush and perfumed, this mostly Malbec, although there’s a 10 per cent dollop of Tannat and a 5 per cent dash of Petit Verdot as well. This presents a vibrant mix of red fruit, violet, smoke, and spice — and is thoroughly balanced before a slightly spicy and smoky finish.
Bottom line: B+, Bring on the slow-and-low barbecue
Erath Winery 2020 Pinot Noir, Oregon
($36.98, available at select private wine stores)
It’s tough to beat the pairing of a warm summer evening breeze and a glass of Pinot Noir. They can be complemented by a view of the sea or some freshly caught sockeye on the grill. Or even camping nachos cooked tent side. The point is that Pinot Noir is versatile, fruity and friendly Pinot. This Oregon red is redolent with aromas of cherry cola, orange peel, and spice. Pouring a bright ruby, it’s on the softer and sumptuous side of the Pinot Noir spectrum and is ready to take on a crowd.
Bottom line: B-, Easy everyday pairing partner
The Swirl: New routes and contest for Bottleneck Drive
Nothing like an impromptu road trip for peak summer bliss. Here’s your destination: Summerland’s Bottleneck Drive. For 2023, the 18 members from wineries, cideries, distilleries, and breweries of this central Okanagan Valley region have created three distinct Bottleneck Drive Routes (north, west and east). The association has also launched a contest for visitors to scan QR codes at each Bottleneck Drive location to enter a VIP weekend getaway for two. Details at bottleneckdrive.com.
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