Summer Sippers: Light Red Wines

Summer Sippers: Light Red Wines

Written by Claire Paparazzo

During this week’s tasting, we opened the door to some lighter red wines, best enjoyed with a slight chill on them.


If you love full-bodied red wines but this summer’s heat is just getting to be too much… try adding some lighter red grapes to your repertoire. I suggest looking for some of these grapes as a start: Pinot Noir, Trousseau, Gamay, Zweigelt, or Fresia. Personally, I always keep my red wine fridge at 59 degrees—the suggested temperature for these light reds.


Our journey begins in Eastern France, in the Jura. This small mountainous region is located just East of the famed Burgundy. It has comparable weather to Burgundy but perhaps even a touch colder due to higher elevations. Prominent soils of Jurassic limestone—found also in the Cote d’ Or—connect the present to the past. The traditions are preserved, as if frozen in time—here they enjoy oxidative whites like Vin Jaun (yellow wine) and Macvin du Jura, along with more classic expressions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The fun of this region lies in the its native grapes, like Savagnin used in Vin Jaun, or the red grapes Trousseau and Poulsard.  It is typical to find these grapes in blends, but the true and subtle expression of place lies in the single varietal, as our tasting group discovered diving into this week’s bottle of Trousseau. Looks are deceiving: We could see straight through this ruby rust colored light red, leading us to believe it was just a slight wine.  But then on the palate the expression of tannins coated the tongue and hints of spice and tart fruit arrived in the form of layers and layers of juicy acidity, making us think of a tasty meal. The region’s food, like its wine, is a window into traditions of the past, still cherished. The Jura is known for the impressive AOC-protected Poulet de Bresse, chickens so delicious and tender that they have been favored since at least the 1600s. The chickens are required to be kept free range for a minimum of 4 months. There are only about 200 breeders who make this magic happen through strict and careful attention to detail. The flavor is a bit gamey—in a sense, a little more chicken flavor in your chicken. For my own pairing, I pored over recipes to find one that would work perfectly with the Trousseau: I chose one featuring crème fraiche  and chanterelle mushrooms, to tie the combination back to the earth. 


Next, we travel to Germany. Though Riesling is the country’s most recognized grape, Pinot Noir holds some heft here as well. According to Wines of Germany about 34% of Germany’s vineyard area is actually dedicated to red varieties, and Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) is the third most widely planted varietal. The German term is a literal descriptor: Spät = late ripening, and Burgunder = Pinot. This is definitely a cool climate light red, and depending on the vintage, the flavor can reveal a lot about the weather patterns and the ever-warming planet: The Spätburgunder of the past are quite different from recent, hotter vintages. On the recommendation of my absolute go to book The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson, we find ourselves in the Pfalz region—more specifically, in Bad Dürkheim, the largest Commune in Germany, from which Koehler- Ruprecht sources their Spätburgunder. It is a magical area—the sunniest region in all of Germany, similar in this way to Alsace, France. Our group pauses to imagine ourselves at the country’s largest wine festival, known as WurstMarkt (sausage fair), normally held the second or third week of September. Who wouldn’t love a local sausage while enjoying a glass of Spätburgunder?


Wines from our tasting:

Domaine Rolet Père et Fils, Trousseau Arbois, Jura, France 2013: This domaine located in the Arbois, one of the four appellations of the Jura, has been run by the Rolet family since 1942 and offers a true pallet of the traditional grapes and styles of the Jura. This wine is comprised of 100% Trousseau, an indigenous dark-skinned grape also known as Bastardo in Portugal and Verdejo Negro in Spain. To the sight, this wine is transparent, with a slightly cloudy brick ruby color. On the nose: Hints of clove and orange peel with mineral undertones, and tart berry fruit like cranberry. The tannin structure was surprising and had more to offer than we initially thought. We could see why this would be excellent paired with game bird like the Poulet de Bresse, France’s most expensive chicken, or a hard cheese like Morbier.


Koehler-Ruprecht, Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), Kabinett Trocken Pfalz, Germany 2018: Since 2011, this historic winery—one of the oldest in the region—has been run by Dominik Sona and cellar master Franziska Schmitt. Their motto, “Wine is the poetry of the earth,” (Mario Soldati, 1907-1999) sums up their philosophy of wine making. The color of this wine shows its youth and potential: Cherry red, medium clarity. The nose has dark berry fruit and some floral undertones balanced with a refreshing acidity. Hailing from the warmest region in Germany, the ripeness from the sunshine allows this wine to be drunk in its youth, though it can still be aged for 10 plus years.  I will stand by my vision of sipping this wine while enjoying a sausage from the local WurstMarkt.


If you would like to buy these two wines please contact Shiraz Noor at Acker Wines. LBV Social Club members get a discount through our partnership!


Claire Paparazzo is an LBV Social Club member who also leads some of the Club's wine tastings. This is her reflection on the tasting that took place on August 5th, 2020. Find her on Instagram at @clairepaparazzo and @wineifyouwantto.


First image via Pinterest 


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