Summer is yet theoretical. We are teased with short days of heat and light that quickly turn to reveal sinister siblings of skin-flaying winds, prickly morning cold, and tiny, ominously beautiful snowflakes. The ol' Alberta bait and switch, if ever there was one.
The Lifford Grand Tasting on May 7th, hosted by Lifford Wine & Spirits (and spearheaded by the ever-lovely and vastly knowledgeable Meghan Darker) was a breath of summer under the Art Gallery of Alberta's skylights. A rogue's gallery of wine-producing nations - think Australia, Chile, France, Italy, New Zealand and the USA - was comprised of 25 producers of innumerable varieties and vibrant personalities. Though space constraints preclude an exhaustive review of each vintage present, here are a few picks to enjoy this summer. If it ever arrives.
What to Drink this Summer
Mitchell Wines (AUS) - Shingleback Shiraz - Slaps you awake and sends you traveling on a fried-out Kombi, on a hippie trail, head full of zombie. Boldly tells the imbiber of arid landscapes and a merciless sun, and slams the door on its way out, leaving one begging for another sip.
Charles Smith (USA) - Boom Boom Syrah - (pictured) Clever labels are one thing. When the liquid inside trumps the outer artwork, all the better. This born-in-the-USA syrah hinted of a dark wood-paneled boardroom with bright sunny notes peeking around plush velvet curtains.
Nicolas Feuillatte (FRA) - Brut NV - Champagne is too often reserved for special occasions. Pity; this one crinkles and sparkles with the approachability of freshly baked bread, just cooling on the counter and waiting to be discovered.
Boutinot (FRA) - Chat-en-Oeuf Rouge - (pictured) This round and comfortable blend is as mellow and languid as a rotund tabbycat resting in a sunbeam. Kitty has claws, though, just to remind you not to get too comfortable. In other words, this blend of grenache and syrah is comfy enough to enjoy by itself, but possesses enough bite to be paired with food.
Rocca Delle Macie (ITA) - Chianti Classico - The quintessential Italian red need not be contrite. No, this version is the illicit lovechild of a cherry and a dark red apple, and seduces with whispers of a hot Italian summer night. This one is everything that the melted-candle-in-a-chianti-bottle is not. Self-assured and never muddy. Can even be served with liver and fava beans.
Summer will arrive at some point. When it does, I shall
raise a glass and nod knowingly, one eyebrow slightly raised, to this
most elusive of seasons.
Head down to Lifford Wine & Spirits (2304 Ellwood Drive, Unit D417) to nab any of these for yourself.