Wine buyer & certified Sommelier Margaret Shugart shares her secrets to the perfect summer sips of wine, champagne, rosé and more.
As sunny spring and summer rays heat the day, warm breezes envelope the sundeck and the salty ocean spray sifts over the bow, what will you have in your glass? We went searching for the top wines to refresh you on a crystal-clear day at sea.
Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Champagne – Savor a classic
Most Champagne houses build their wines from a blend of pinot noir for structure and chardonnay for elegance, but Ruinart is one of the only producers to craft its flagship bottles entirely from chardonnay, the golden thread and soul of its wines.
Chardonnay tends to be austere in the Champagne region, but this Blanc de Blancs offers a suppler expression of the grape, complemented generously with citron, white pineapple, white peach and an underpinning of floral notes reminiscent of jasmine and pink peppercorns. It is vibrant and elegant, fresh on the nose and crisp and lively on the palate — perfect for a late afternoon sipper and aperitif to your evening meal.
Château d’Esclans rosés – Discover more
You may be most familiar with producer Château d’Esclans through their entry-level rosé, Whispering Angel, a delightfully fruity, slightly sweet everyday quaffer. But if you want to experience a fine potential of Provençal pink, the wines that rise behind the Angel truly are remarkable. Starting with the Château d’Esclans estate label and moving through Les Clans, Garrus and Déesse Astrée, a Côtes de Provence production, the collection becomes lighter in color and more ethereal, showing peekaboo, savory characters like salinity, herbal notes and garlic, which thread themselves between the bright red and sweet stone fruits. If you haven’t been taking rosé seriously, reach for one of these delicately crafted creations and spend some time savoring a chilled bottle on deck.
Sigalas Assyrtiko – The new cutting edge
Greek wine is making a head-turning comeback and reclaiming its space on the international market. In the early 21st century, a set of pioneering Greek winemakers traveled around the globe, learning from masters in Burgundy, Bordeaux and the United States. They then returned home to update local wineries and reinvent the image of Greek wine. Their discoveries led to blending new techniques with 6,500-year-old traditions, giving us a delicious, renewed version of an old favorite.
Assyrtiko grapes are considered by the Greeks to produce the finest white wines, so crisp and lively in their nature, one could imagine they were made to be enjoyed in the ocean breeze. Curious in their cultivation, assyrtiko vines are grown on windswept mountain sides and are woven into baskets as they mature, enabling the grapes to rest inside the protected corral. The time and effort required to grow and harvest in this method leads to wines crafted with purity.
Domaine Sigalas is especially noted for its work with assyrtiko. An avid spokesperson for the preservation of Greek vines and wine culture, Sigalas denotes careful attention to this unique variety and uses it in most white blends. The pure varietal expression is dry and racy with subtle bursts of citrus resting on pronounced mineral undertones. It is guaranteed to refresh you on a hot day.
Seaview Ridge Pinot Noir – Savor natural elegance
Flowers Vineyard is recognized for its pure, elegant, lemony fresh chardonnays and red-noted pinot noirs, both ideal to enjoy on spring and summer days. Organic and biodynamic since 2009, Flowers employs minimal intervention in the winemaking process, allowing the wines to naturally express their unique terroirs. The estate is nestled high in the Sonoma Coast; vineyards are perched at 1,150 to 1,875 feet above sea level. There, winters are warm and summers are cooler, creating a long, rich growing season. With more time on the vine, grapes ripen and mature slowly, developing more layers of complexity. This environment culminates to create a most refined pinot noir.
For a delightful red wine on a sunny day, try the Sea View Ridge Estate Vineyard pinot noir. The high-noted flavors include strains of cranberry, raspberry, unripe strawberry, and complex herbal notes of lavender, bay leaves and cinnamon. The finish is long and uplifting with a lively acidity, inviting the next sip. Like all lighter-bodied reds, chill slightly and serve between 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit to enjoy the delicate fruit and floral notes.