We don't actually need an excuse to drink more than our modest share of wine, but it is National Wine Day. So we asked seven Bay Area wine aficionados—chefs, somms, and restaurateurs—for their picks for the locally produced wines that are best for summer drinking. Raise a glass.
(Courtesy of Turnbull)
Jen Pelka, owner, The Riddler
Jen Pelka is owner of Magnum PR and first-time restaurateur whose chic Hayes Valley Champagne bar, The Riddler, has SF feeling particularly effervescent.
What are you drinking this summer? "I'm currently in love with the sparkling wines that Michael Cruse makes." He is currently practicing pétillant naturel, the mode du jour for processing sparkling wine where wine is bottled while still fermenting. Pelka, who happens to be getting married this weekend at Copain in Healdsburg, is "obsessed with their delicious P2: a light, juicy red best served chilled."
For a summer party, what would you serve? "On the nights when we're grilling steaks, I'm excited to bring out some beautiful cabs from Turnbull. Second-generation owner Zoe Johns has done magical work with these wines."
Matt Deller MW, chief wine officer, Wine Access
Matt Deller MW is one among just 41 Masters of Wine in the U.S. (NBD), and he is currently the chief wine officer at Wine Access, a direct-to-consumer fine wine e-commerce shop that curates wine from all over the globe.
What are you drinking this summer? "I love the wines of Benoit Touquette. His Napa reds demonstrate a perfect balance of power and elegance. Teeter Totter is his personal project, sourcing from some of Napa's best vineyards and crafting a wine unmatched in terms of style and value. Hedonistic and sveltely textured with cassis, licorice, cedar and dark chocolate flavors."
What would you pair it with? "I'll be drinking this beside the barbecue, usually with grilled steaks and mushrooms with lots of garlic and butter, and green beans on the side."
Andrew Ghetia, area director, 4505 Meats
Andrew Ghetia has revamped the wine program at 4505 Meats, where he is spearheading efforts to bring in a variety of California wines made in the vineyard, not in the cellar.
Whatare you drinking this summer? "I'm loving the 2015 Hobo Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley/Sonoma County) from Kenny Likitprakong. Kenny is an incredible winemaker and sources the perfect grapes for his zinfandel which, like barbecue, is a truly American experience."
What dishes are you pairing it with? "This balanced zin is rich, but not overripe, fruit-forward but not a jam bomb. It goes incredibly well with 4505's Smoked 5Dot Ranch Beef Brisket and Sweet and Thick BBQ Sauce. This zin stands up great to the smokey, black pepper flavors of our brisket, yet is elegant enough to let the coriander and hickory smoke shine through."
(Courtesy of sfwine.wordpress.com)
Erik Johnson, head sommelier, French Laundry
Erik Johnson began his career as a "vintern" at Thomas Keller's French Laundry and is now the famed restaurant's head sommelier.
What local wine are you liking this summer? "Kenzo Estate, Asatsuyu Sauvignon Blanc. It has quickly become one of my most favorite white bottles in the valley. Asatsuyu, translating to Morning Dew, is crafted magnificently by two of the most dynamic innovators in the wine profession, Heidi Barrett and David Abreu. They have brought to life this tropical, insanely refreshing and irresistibly delicious white wine with the 2015 vintage, introducing a sprinkle of sémillon. Perfect for a summer afternoon refresher."
Can you really choose just one? "Arnot-Roberts, Rosé. When it comes to summer, nothing jumps to mind quicker than Arnot-Roberts rosé. Not only is this wine super delicious and refreshing, the varieties and vineyards are pretty unique as well. Created primarily of Touriga Nacional and tempranillo from the Luschinger Vineyard in Clear Lake, with supporting roles of Touriga Nacional from Amador and grenache from the Russian River Valley, this final blend begs for sunshine."
Amaryll Schwertner, chef/co-owner, Boulettes Larder
What do you pair them with? "My suggestion for a food pairing with a good lean and dry rose would be a grande aioli...which to me includes summer fish and various tender vegetables and a mortared young garlic and olive oil emulsion. Another example, succulent herbaceous pork loin roast, with olive oil crisped new potatoes and grilled fennel and charred calcot."
Michael Tusk, chef/owner, Quince and Cotogna
James Beard Award–winning chef Michael Tusk is co-owner and toque behind the three-Michelin-star restaurant Quince and its more casual sister restaurant, Cotogna.
What are you drinking this summer? "The combination of vibrant green vegetables and summer produce with high acid, like tomatoes, combined with the earthiness of squash blossoms, calls for lighter, more mineral based wines. And almost always sparkling! Michael Cruse's wines have really lived up to all expectations. The super small production Ultramarine is on par with some of the best sparkling wines from Champagne and is also great with caviar and shellfish with light classic preparations."
Luke Stanko, assistant winemaker, Ram's Gate Winery
Luke Stanko began his career at Ram's Gate Winery in Sonoma as a harvest intern in 2012, a role that grew into cellar master and ultimately assistant winemaker. Stanko oversees the grapes in every step of the process, from the vine to bottling, at Ram's Gate.
What are you drinking in warmer months? "Either Jolie-Laide Pinot Gris and Melon de Bourgogne or rosé from Rootdown Wine Cellars. Pinot Gris is a grape whose skins have color, so why shouldn't the wine? It's slightly pink in color with fresh stone fruit aromas and great acidity. The Melon is floral with a mineral backbone. Both are perfect for a day at the coast."