Wines that Can't Be Beat to Beat the Heat

Valle de Uco, Argentina

Just as we’re getting into the Dog Days of lying low with our tongues hanging out, we get word some of our favorite summertime refreshers that we’ve had some trouble stocking have once more become available. Now, I’m not suggesting that after a drippy morning of yard chores, you come into the house and pull out a tumbler of chilled Sauvignon Blanc. Water will do very well for your bodily hydration needs. But if you’ve been at work or out shopping and you come home at the end of the day feeling frazzled and fried, a chilled glass of dry rosé wine is just the ticket. Or how about a light supper salad of garden-fresh vegetables accompanied by a cold, light white wine. Ahhh...life is good.
 
The Brothers Lurton
Jacques & Francois LurtonJacques & Francois LurtonI first wrote about the brothers Lurton in October 2008:
Jacques and Francois Lurton, sons of the famous Bordeaux producer André Lurton, started their own company in 1988 with the intent of producing French style wines from grapes grown all over the globe. They now have properties not only in Languedoc-Rousillon but also in Chile, Argentina, Spain and Portugal. Their wines are stylish but informal and are always great values.
Then, just 8 months later, I had to add a new note:
This just in: I noticed these next two wines were named only for brother Francois. What, I wondered, happened to the older brother, Jacques? Well, some Google sleuthing turned up the fact that Francois bought out the business from Jacques in 2007 and is the consulting winemaker at the properties all around the world that now bear his name. And Jacques? He now owns a property on Kangaroo Island, Australia, a place "he and his new wife fell in love with after they spent their honeymoon there in 1997." Is he still making wine? Oh, yeah. He's now making wines under "The Islander" label. And you can bet we're looking for them.
Haven’t found Jacques’ wine, yet, except on a very attractive Kangaroo Island website.
Meanwhile, Francois Lurton keeps making wines as a “flying winemaker,” consulting on two vintages a year, in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. We’ve had all of these wines before (well, earlier vintages), so I’ll just give them a quick review, starting with the home of great French wine bargains...Languedoc.
 
Lurton Les Salices Viognier (Languedoc, France) Regular $14.50/ Feature $12.33
If you’re new to our Wine & Words following, the northern Rhone grape Viognier (vee-ohn-YAY) may be new to you, but if you’ve been on this journey for a while, you might be a fan. In addition to this Languedoc version, we’ve got the Four Sisters Viognier (Australia) and Ironberry Chardonnay Viognier blend (Australia), and Viognier makes up half of the Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc and a third of the Tangent Ecclestone we featured last week, as well as adding a lilting note to the Joostenberg Chenin Blanc (South Africa) and then there’s the 2% Viognier that makes up “the other” in The Other White (California). There’s even 10% Viognier in the red Rhone-style blend called “The Wolftrap” (South Africa). So you may have been liking the light honeysuckle and lime notes of Viognier without even knowing it.
The grape is originally from the French region of Condrieu, just south of the city of Lyon and not far from where the Lurton people make this one. Because of its lightness and strong aromatics, Viognier can go with spicy foods. But it really sings with grilled fish or shellfish. And on that aforementioned hot afternoon, a chilled glass of this wine goes down way too easily.
 
Lurton Les Fumées Blanches Sauvignon Blanc (Languedoc, France) Regular $14.50/ Feature $12.33
You don’t have to be a Francophone to enjoy saying the delicious name of this delicious wine - “lay FOO-may blahnsh.” I feel cooler just thinking about those “white mists” that rise over the early morning vineyards of northern Languedoc. I found a lovely “winemaker’s note” from the most recent vintage. It makes my mouth water!
Lundi 20 septembre 2010 The heart of Fumées Blanches wine comes from the Gers [south of Bordeaux and west of the city of Toulouse] – harvest is in full throw. Picking starts at 3am in the morning when temperatures are a cold 4°C to keep the Sauvignon’s citrus flavours fresh! The sun is shining in Bordeaux and in the Gers. Mornings are very cool but days are hot and sunny. The Sauvignon grapes have intense aromas of gooseberry and grapefruit and show a nice balance between the acidity and sugar in the grapes. New press working well! It is the Inertis press which enables the grapes to be kept far from any oxygen so the fruity Sauvignon flavors are kept fresh and alive.
“Fresh and alive”...that just about says it all with this wine. Enjoy!
 
Lurton Les Salices Pinot Noir (Languedoc, France) Regular $16.50/ Feature $14.03
Pinot Noir, especially in the riper fruit style of Languedoc, is a great red wine for summer. This one, like all Pinot Noir wines, is an excellent food companion, especially with the lighter fare of summer. And if you just prefer red wine year round, this one allows you to lighten up without going all the way to white. This has been our go-to value French Pinot Noir for many vintages.
 
Bodegas Lurton Pinot Gris (Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina) Regular $12.80/ Feature $10.88
I’ve always loved this wine. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it was a serendipitous mistake! From the Bodegas Lurton website:
How an error in France turned into our best seller in Argentina!
We were the first to plant and register Pinot Gris in Argentina in 2002. It is one of our biggest success stories though the way it started was rather unusual. When unloading the vine plants sent from France, we realized that the nursery had made a mistake and rather than send Chardonnay from Burgundy they had sent Pinot Gris plants from Alsace instead (clone 52 and 53). Rather than delay another planting season, we decided to plant the baby vines and see what happened. Today our Pinot Gris with its fresh rounded flavours of white peach and fresh acidity is one of the estate’s best sellers and is planted over 45 hectares.
Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar - 88 points
 
Perlat (Montsant, Spain) Regular $14.65/ Feature $12.46
We introduced this one a year ago. I took a bottle home a week or so ago, because I hadn’t had it for a while. Wow, what a nice red for summertime. I had to include it in this “Beat the Heat” selection. Last August I wrote:
The first wine, whose name means “pearl” in Catalan, is a fine example of the fact that wine is the everyday beverage of Spain. This one is an easy-drinking blend of 40% Garnacha , 40% Mazuela (Carignan in French and Cariñena in other Spanish-speaking countries), and 20% Syrah. The Garnacha gives it a ripe “grapey” flavor, while the Mazuela lends deep color and tannic structure, and the Syrah adds a warm note of food friendliness.
Montsant DO (Denominación de Origen) has only borne that designation since 2000, when it was separated from the Priorat region that it completely surrounds . The vineyards extend along the mountainsides among olive groves, forests and rocky outcrops. The climate is mostly Mediterranean, being protected from the harsh Continental winds by the Montsant mountains to the north. The soil is rocky granite and slate that is well-drained and holds daytime heat through the night. It’s a perfect place to allow red wine grapes to ripen luxuriously...which is just the way you should enjoy this wine, as an affordable luxury.
 
Viña Borgia Rosé (Campo de Borja, Aragon, Spain) Everyday Low Price $9.95
My son, Chef Dan, who works at Whole Foods in Chapel Hill, took me over to see their case stack of Borsao Rosé wine that he referred to as “my new favorite summer wine.” I immediately tried to order some for our stores only to hear, as is so often the case, “we’re waiting on the Spanish container.” Well, the container has arrived...and most of it was snatched up by Whole Foods. It was gone before my order hit the warehouse. Yikes! But no worries, Sarah, our trusty Tryon rep, has secured a case for each store of the Vina Borgia Rosé - same producer, same 100% Garnacha, same light, deliciousness that pleases the eye as well as the palate.
 
And if one inexpensive dry rosé isn’t enough, there’s more.
 
Seigneur de Bergerac Rosé (Bordeaux, France) $10.95 While it lasts!
This light, dry rosé of 50% Merlot/ 40% Cabernet Sauvignon/ 10% Cabernet Franc sold out quickly when it was part of our Pre-sale Special from Yvon Mau. We thought it was ALL gone. Turns out someone didn’t take their allotment, so we snatched it up. This time, when it’s gone, it’s REALLY gone.
 
So beat the heat and save some dough with our Wine & Words summertime Features.