Wine review of Tapena 2009 Verdejo, 2009 Torrentos, Hecht & Bannier 2010 Languedoc Rosé

Delicious summer sipping for under $13

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Summer’s here and with it come barbecues, parties and lots of opportunities to hang out with friends and enjoy a glass or two of wine. Certain wines do better in these settings for a variety of reasons.

With large groups, my goal is to find something that’s going to appeal to a wide array of palates and interest levels. You want something that will please the casual drinkers and also has enough intrigue to keep the more serious wine drinkers interested too. And since we’re more than likely talking about multiple bottles of wine, well-priced offerings that won’t break the budget are something most of us will be hunting for.

I recently tasted through a couple dozen wines priced under $15 that are aimed at summer drinking. Today I’ll look at three of my favorites from that group; this trio stands out for drinkability, value and for having some distinct characteristics.

The first wine is the Tapena 2009 Verdejo. This white grape shares some qualities with Sauvignon Blanc. It is one of the white varieties that flourishes in Spain, and is particularly well known in the Rueda and Tierra de Castilla regions. This offering from Tapena is 100 percent Verdejo and has a suggested retail price of $9.99.

Aromas of citrus and white flowers fill the demonstrative nose of this 2009 Verdejo. The palate is gently layered with lemon, hazelnut and emerging tropical fruit flavors. White peach plays a significant role here too, and leads into the finish which shows off grapefruit flavors as well as copious spices; white pepper is of particular note. This wine is a perfect choice for summer sipping. It’ll pair well with mild cheeses, appetizers, entrée salads and most of the lighter foods of summer. If you shop around you’ll find it for closer to $8; it’s a very nice value.

Up next is the 2009 Torrontes from Alex Elman. She founded her company to source and import sustainable offerings that represent her vision for what good wine should be. Currently her portfolio includes four releases from the Menodza region of Argentina. The 2009 Torrontes has a suggested retail price of $12.99.

Lychee fruit, Bartlett pear and white peach aromas simply explode on the nose of this Torrontes. Fleshy white plum, peach, apricot and lemon ice flavors are in play through the medium-bodied palate of this wine. A nice core of spices accompanies these fruit flavors, and provides a good counterpoint. White melon, grapefruit and vanilla notes all emerge on the finish, which has solid length and a firm, pleasing acidity. This wine is a pleasure to sip on its own and will also pair with lighter foods. It should be served chilled -- but be careful not to serve this particular offering too cold. At a couple of degrees warmer than the average white wine, this Torrontes really shines and shows off its complexity. This wine does a nice job showcasing the signature white grape of Argentina.

When it comes to wine, one of the great joys of warm weather is well-made, dry Rosé. At its best, Rosé can offer attributes from both red and white wines. They can be refreshing and layered with complexity. The bottom line for me is that they’re often a delight to drink. The Hecht & Bannier 2010 Languedoc Rosé is such a selection. This wine is a blend of equal parts Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault. All the fruit for this wine is sourced within the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. It has a suggested retail price of $12.

Red raspberry and wild strawberry aromas fill the nose of this 2010 Rosé; an undercurrent of crème fraiche is present as well, and adds a layer of immediate complexity. The trio of cherry, pomegranate and strawberry lead the avalanche of bright, fresh red fruit flavors through the palate of this wine. This Rosé has an incredibly juicy middle; hints of watermelon chip in, along with white pepper and baker’s spices. Cranberry and vanilla flavors emerge on the finish along with gentle wisps of rhubarb. Solid acidity keeps things balanced here. This wine will pair well with almost any summer fare you can throw at it. It’s also quite delicious all on its own -- summer in a glass if you ask me. Be warned, though, if you pour this for friends: have several bottles chilled and ready to go! This wine goes down easy and begs for continued sipping.

This trio of wines will provide a lot of drinking pleasure throughout the warm summer months. All three do a fine job representing their variety or style. Each of them is a terrific value and would be a good choice to consider for a case purchase. These are the sort of wines you should always have on hand, chilled and ready to go, both for planned events and unexpected guests who drop by to enjoy a glass on the deck or porch.

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