Summer Sippers and BBQ Reds

Oh summer! The time of crisp white wine or refreshing rosé during sultry warm afternoons or evenings on the deck or patio, or at the lake, ocean or pool. The time of rich reds at barbecues with family and friends. And the wines that pair well with a celebratory toast to Independence Day.

Here are some of our favorite whites and rosés to sip with a summer salad, or seafood such as prawns, scallops, sushi, crab or halibut. Or you can simply drink pink without food, watching the sunset reflected in its pretty color. In addition, here are some beautiful reds to pour at your BBQ.

There are so many wonderful wines to explore this summer. But we had to keep our lists short. As a result, these represent only wines that we have tasted in recent months, either at tasting rooms, events or in samples sent to us by wineries. Specifically, these wines are from Washington state, Oregon, California, New Zealand and Italy.

Recently Tasted Pinot Grigio

Gradis’ciutta Pinot Grigio Collio 2017 (Italy)
Pinot Grigio shines in the summer, in addition to pairing well with seafood all year round. Gradis’ciutta is a full-bodied Italian Pinot Grigio with fresh acidity and flavors of citrus fruit, ripe apples, stone fruit and pear. We loved sip after sip on a warm August evening with friends, and could have easily opened a second bottle. We will look for future vintages.

Recently Tasted Sauvignon Blanc

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (NZ)
Marlborough fruit brings lemon, grapefruit and peach flavors to this zesty, vibrant, crisp and dry Sauvignon Blanc. Plus, the stainless steel fermentation provides minerality and a freshness that we prefer. We were fortunate to taste this stellar Sauvignon Blanc along with other Greywacke wines during a recent trip to New Zealand. Thankfully, Greywacke Sauv Blanc is easy to find in the U.S. and Canada.

Villa Maria Taylors Pass Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (NZ)
This is a beautiful, crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Taylors Pass vineyard is in the Awatare Valley of New Zealand, where river stones reside under the vines and bring characteristics of flint and minerality to the wine. In addition, stainless steel tank fermentation results in clean flavors of grapefruit, lime, and grass. Like Greywacke, Villa Maria wines are available in the U.S. and Canada.

Other Sauvignon Blanc Suggestions:

  • Efeste Feral Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (WA)
  • JM Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (WA)
  • Va Piano Sauvignon Blanc Black Label 2017 (WA)

Recently Tasted Rosé 

Succession Wines Rosé 2018 (WA)
Made in a classic Provence style, this is a gorgeous and refreshing Syrah rosé. Notes of grapefruit, strawberries and melon are maintained from the nose to the palate. We brought home a bottle to drink on our deck this summer, so it’s no surprise to find this on our list. We recently discovered Succession Wines during a visit to Lake Chelan, and look forward to enjoying more of their releases in the future.

Hard Row to Hoe Shameless Hussy Rosé 2018 (WA)
Fresh and zesty, this is a perfect rosé for a hot summer day or a warm evening. We have been fans for years! Using estate Grenache, this beauty is complex and refreshing, with flavors of strawberries, cherries, watermelon and a sprinkle of spice. We love this wine, and brought some home after our recent trip to Lake Chelan. Drink pink often with this lovely wine.

Hampton Water Rosé 2018 (FR)
Named the top-ranked rosé in the world by Wine Spectator, Hampton Water is created with Languedoc grapes by French winemaker Gérard Bertrand, in conjunction with music star Jon Bon Jovi and his son Jesse. So yes, this wine rocks on several levels! A blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre, Hampton Water is fresh and lively, and features a crisp minerality. Je t’adore, Hampton Water Rosé.

Other Rosé Suggestions:

  • Le Bec Fin Vin Rosé 2016 (WA)
  • Va Piano Rosé of Cabernet Franc 2017 (WA)
  • The Walls Cruel Summer Rosé 2017 (WA)

Recently Tasted Chardonnay

Villa Maria Taylors Pass Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2017 (NZ)
This is 100% Marlborough Chardonnay from the same Awatere vineyard mentioned above, where the soil sits on top of rocks. As a result, this is a mineral-driven style of Chardonnay. Aromas of brioche and citrus are followed by flavors of grapefruit, fig, oatmeal and minerality. Taylors Pass Chardonnay is an elegant, textured, complex and balanced wine. Pair it with chicken alfredo or salmon.

Greywacke Chardonnay 2015 (NZ)
This is one of the best Chardonnays we have ever tasted. This wine features grapefruit flavors, accents of hazelnuts, minerality, and a savory, smoky complexity. Opulence combines with flintiness and a citrus profile. The grapes are primarily from a Mendoza clone, known for its concentration of flavor and crisp acidity. We applaud this distinct and divine Chardonnay.

Hazelfern Chardonnay, Willamette Valley 2017 (OR)
This pretty, elegant and full-bodied Chardonnay features a host of aromas and flavors including grapefruit, guava, marmalade, butterscotch and lemon bars. Textured and complex, there are also hints of minerals and sea salt on the palate. We poured it for friends on a summer afternoon, and they loved it. But you could also pair it with pasta with cream sauce, shellfish or poultry.

Hazelfern Road Block Chardonnay 2017 (OR)
This Chardonnay combines power and texture with aromas of lemon and stone fruit, and a palate of tropical fruit, pears, vanilla, ginger, sea salt and limestone on the finish. We’re going to open another bottle of Road Block Chardonnay during crab season next month. Or maybe we won’t wait that long and instead, pour it with lobster cream pasta this week. Yum!

Other Chardonnay Suggestions:

  • Columbia Crest Unoaked Chardonnay 2017 (WA)
  • Newsprint Chardonnay 2016 (WA)

BBQ Reds

Fielding Hills Estate Tribute Red Blend 2014 or 2015 (WA)
Lush and full-bodied, Tribute blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. We tried two vintages, and one was Merlot-dominant, while the other was Cab-based. You’ll find aromas and bold flavors of dark cherry, black and blue fruits, mocha, and barrel spices. This was another wine we took home with us from our recent trip to Lake Chelan.

Succession Wines Bridge Builder’s Blend 2017 (WA)
As mentioned earlier, we recently discovered Succession Wines during our trip to Lake Chelan. We decided this is a winery to watch. And then we discovered that the smart guys at Wine Press Northwest said the same thing … a year ago! So we are a bit late to the party but big fans now, particularly of this well-balanced Bordeaux blend of 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 235 Merlot and 13% Malbec. Simply wonderful.

Home Field Red Blend 2016 (CA)
Sbragia Family Vineyards winemaker Adam Sbragia launched his own brand with a Dry Creek Valley red blend called Home Field. This delightful inaugural vintage is crafted from five grape varieties in six different vineyards. As Adam puts it, the wine brings wit with 51% Zinfandel, 8% Carignane and 4% Petite Sirah, and wisdom with 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Merlot. “The result is 100% delicious.” Unfortunately, Home Field is not available in Washington state, but you can find it in many locations in California.

Other BBQ Red Suggestions:

  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars Jet Black Syrah 2016 (WA)
  • Andrew Will Cabernet Franc 2016 (WA)
  • Bartholomew Winery Couvee Rouge Red Blend 2015 (WA)
  • Bledsoe Winery Flying B Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (WA)
  • Co Dinn Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (WA)
  • Eight Bells David’s Block 2014 or 2015 (WA)
  • La Chanterelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (WA)

Recently Tasted Special Occasion Reds

  • Avennia Sestina Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (WA)
  • Barrage Cellars Stone & Vine 2014 (WA)
  • Boudreaux Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (WA)
  • DeLille Cellars Four Flags Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (WA)
  • Saviah Cellars The Funk 2016 (WA)
  • Two Vintners Some Days are Stones 2016 (WA)


As mentioned, we appreciate dozens of whites, rosés and reds over the summer, but we had to narrow the field for this list. So the only wines included here are those we recently tasted. For more ideas, we encourage you to please read other posts on Write for Wine.

Meanwhile, enjoy your summer!

Margot and Dave