Yes, we know – wine’s for drinking any time in any season, but when the sun is scorching like it has been lately a big Cabernet Sauvignon or heavily-oaked Chardonnay probably isn’t the best for helping quench that thirst.
The good news is that hot weather is actually rather perfect for discovering softer styles of wines; here we’ve taken the liberty to recommend a gamut of more delicate wines – whether they’re made from lighter grape varietals or simply with techniques of a softer touch – suitable for the hot summer, whether they’re for pairing with summer dishes or for lounging by the beach.
Matua Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Of all the familiar wine grapes, Sauvignon Blanc is the one grape that’s seemingly made for hot weather drinking with its bright acidity and fresh flavours. And Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, especially the ones from the Marlborough region such as the one by Matua, exhibit amazingly crisp lemony and grassy notes tinged with gooseberry, basil and mineral notes.
Ash Ridge Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Marlborough isn’t the only wine region in New Zealand making great Sauvignon Blanc. Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand’s North Island also produces some excellent Sauvignon Blanc, and Ash Ridge‘s Estate Sauvignon Blanc is a great example of the region’s style showcasing rich tropical flavours of passionfruit and lime while barrel fermentation adds complexity and texture.
Geoff Hardy Gruner Veltliner 2015
One of the most underrated white wine grapes is the Gruner Veltliner. Gruner Veltliner is found in very few places outside of its native Austria, but one of those places is in the cool southern Adelaide Hills of South Australia. Geoff Hardy makes a beautiful Gruner Veltliner that combines lightly fruity peach and rock melon notes with a hint of flowers and white pepper.
Domaine Gueguen Chablis 2014
The Bourgogne winemaking subregion of Chablis is perhaps best known for making some of the most representative wines using the Chardonnay grape. The iconic flintiness of the soils here contributes to the making of some of the most electrifying – and priciest – wines in the world, but you don’t have to break the bank either to experience what the region has to offer. For example, Domaine Gueguen‘s bursts forth with fresh white fruit and citrus, underpinned by the racy acidity and commanding minerality you expect from a Chablis.
Available: The Cellier (distribution)
Beringer Founders’ Estate Chardonnay 2014
Beringer may get flak from wine connoisseurs for helping feed the ludicrous American white zinfandel craze over the years, but California’s oldest operating winery does make some exceptional wines. The Founders’ Estate Chardonnay, for example, is made from grapes specially selected from choice vineyards across Central California and the North Coast and this wine straddles a fine balance between the heavily-oaked Chardonnays of old and its more modern, youthful fruit-forward versions.
Available: NTUC Fairprice Finest
Bisou Bisou Blanc de Blancs NV
A collaboration between Australia-based online wine retailer Vinomofo and winemaker Steve Webber of de Bortolli, the Bisou Bisou – “kiss kiss” in French – is a multi-vintage sparkling wine produced dry from Chardonnay with just a minute touch of sweetness. There’s even a touch of voluptuousness and complexity from three years aging on lees, making it a perfect accompaniment with your Mediterranean fish dishes or Cantonese dim sum.
Wolf Blass Classic Red Label Moscato
For those who enjoy the fizziness but not the dryness of sparkling wine, the Wolf Blass Classic Red Label Moscato is a sweet and refreshing take that’s bursting with ripe peach, kaffir lime and musk melon. More importantly, this non-vintage sparkling wine from Barossa Valley-based Australian winery is actually perfect to pair with spicy Asian foods such as Thai som tum, or Penang laksa.
Available: NTUC Fairprice Finest
Emotion de Provence 2015 Coteaux Varois en Provence
It’s a shame that rosé wines still aren’t as popular in these parts as they are in much of Europe in recent time; they’re really rather perfect for our climate. Wineries have been churning out better quality rosé over the years too, and this delicate Emotion de Provence from the Coteaux Varois en Provence AOC in the heart of Provenceby winemakers Gilles Baude and Bruno Crepin is definitely one of them. Its notes of crisp citrus and fresh strawberry will leave you wanting more.
Pietradolce Etna Rosato DOC 2012
Provence may be the only winemaking region in the world to focus on production of rosé and have been perfecting that style since time immemorial, but the Italians are also deft old hands at it. This rosato from boutique winery Pietradolce located on the northern slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily is vinified from the native Nerello Mascalese grape and expresses fresh currant notes with some minerality and salinity.
Available: Bacco Wines
Castello di Cigognola Bianca 2013
No thanks to the likes of Brunellos, Barolos, and the Super Tuscans, Italian wines have gained somewhat of a reputation for being on the pricier side. But you can actually find some great tasting bargains on an IGT level from various Italian producers, such as this white wine by Castello di Cigognola – straddled on the border of the Italian winemaking regions of Piedmont and Emilia Romagna – made from the native red Barbera grape. It’s in fact currently the only white wine made from Barbera in Italy. Luscious green apple dominate, along with subtle hints of white flowers and spice. It’s also light enough to play tippy-toe with your palate.
Available: Bacco Wines
Jasci & Marchesani Eco Pecorino Abruzzo DOC Superiore 2013
You may know of Pecorino as a cheese, but did you also know that Pecorino is an ancient Italian wine grape grown in the country’s eastern regions especially in Marche and Abruzzo? It’s also known by many other names: Pecorello, Pecorella, and Juvino, amongst many others. The grape’s high acidity – like in Jasci & Marchesani‘s organically produced Eco Pecorino Abruzzo DOC Superiore – translates into wine that remain crisp, bright and fresh despite its relatively high alcohol levels.
Available: Bacco Wines
Unico Zelo Truffle Hound 2016
The Nebbiolo grape is best known for being turned into the rich and explosive DOCG wines of Barolo and Barbaresco in its native Piedmont in Italy, but at the hands of Adelaide Hills, South Australia-based Unico Zelo has turned into quite the different animal. Here Nebbiolo is blended with a touch of Barbera to create Unico Zelo’s seasonal Truffle Hound, an organic wine bursting with a lively juiciness and a slight smoky and spicy finish that’s perfect for those who desire all the flavours of a red wine without the weight.
Domaine Lucci Noir de Florette Pinot Noir
We’ve always been massive fans of Domaine Lucci/Lucy Margaux, one of the driving forces behind the burgeoning Basket Range community of organic winemakers located in Adelaide Hills, South Australia. This Domaine Lucci sees whole-bunch Pinot Noir lightly macerated for a decidedly elegant take on an already refined grape, and possesses a subtle balance of fresh red fruit, bright acidity and flinty slate for a mysteriously ethereal and sensual wine.
Mahota Winery Merlot Cabernet 2015
You may be surprised to learn that this Mahota Winery Merlot Cabernet hails from Penglai, China; you’ll be even more surprised when you taste the delicate fruitiness and a touch of vanilla wood spice in this very lightly extracted Merlot dominated blend. It’s not exceedingly complex but its sheer simplicity and easy drinkability what you want in a red wine on a hot, humid day with your evening repast.
Available: Mahota Singapore (retail)
[All photographs courtesy of Joel Lim Photography]