Drinks News

What to drink this summer

Crisp, cool and close at hand. You know what you want out of Christmas and New Year's drinking, but how to get it? We have all the essentials covered.

By Max Allen
No one wants to be caught out over summer with nothing delicious to drink in the house. So, we've recommended 20 bottles – well, 19 bottles and a cheeky can – that should cover every eventuality, from friends dropping by for dinner to big celebrations, from last-minute gift ideas to impromptu beach picnics. Buy a few of these and you'll be set for those lazy weeks ahead over Christmas and New Year.

Drinks for refreshment

1. A cider for picnic pork rolls: Cidre François Séhédic Brut, Brittany, $11
If you haven't tried traditional Brittany cider with pork, you haven't lived: there's something about the wild aromatics of spiced apple and the rich, chewy golden flavours in the drink that perfectly complement the sweet fattiness of the pig.
Imported by worldwineestates.com.au
2. Gin for early evening G&Ts and later evening Martinis: Archie Rose Coast Gin, Sydney, $99
One of two limited-release summer gins from this innovative distiller: it has a soft, sweet herbal quality that acts as a great counterpoint to tonic or vermouth. The other gin, Bush, is good too: bolder, with a hint of eucalypt. archierose.com.au
3. One for your craft beer-loving cousin: Two Metre Tall Derwent Aromatic Spelt Ale, Tasmania, $11 (375ml)
The latest batch of this perennial realale favourite is particularly good. There's all the hallmark complexity of Two Metre Tall – wild earthy richness, refreshing sour tang – but an unusually fruity, attractive perfume, too. 2mt.com.au
4. A half-bottle of fino sherry to have in the fridge at all times: Gutierrez Colosia Fino, Jerez, $19 (375ml)
For those times when there'll be a platter of prawns – maybe some lime mayo and brown bread on the side – and you need something cold and bonedry and briny to go with it. Imported by thespanishacquisition.com
5. A tinnie (or two) for the Boxing Day test: Sailors Grave Brewing Sou'East Draught, Gippsland, $6 (355ml)
One of this country's most experimental small brewers decides to make an old-school draught beer and the result is surprisingly normal. No fancy foraged foliage, just beer, like the ice-cold kind you'd find on tap in a surf live-saving club bar. sailorsgravebrewing.com
Drinks for refreshment, pictured clockwise from left.

Five fab fizzes

1. A little bottle of something sweet and fizzy to go with mince pies: Le Petit Chandon, Yarra Valley, $39 (375ml)
A beautifully packaged (did someone say Christmas?) bottle of joy: older sparkling wines from Chandon's extensive stocks blended with a little sémillon equals fine sweet golden bubbly. Available from cellar door and online only. chandon.com.au
2. Perky pét-nat for the endof- year office party: 2018 Ravensworth Riesling "Ancestral", Canberra District, $36
These days, all the cool kids are drinking pét-nats – sparkling wines that finish fermentation in bottle. This is a great example: funky enough to appeal to the wannabe somms, crisp and clean enough to satisfy the more sensitive types. ravensworthwines.com.au
3. Prosecco for your midafternoon holiday-house Spritz: 2018 Pizzini Prosecco, King Valley, $21.50
This vivacious young prosecco has just the right balance of bright fruitiness and a refreshing, clean finish so that when you add Aperol (or Campari), a splash of soda, and a garnish of orange and a green olive, you've got the perfect summer Spritz. pizzini.com.au
4. Fancy fizz for New Year's Eve fireworks: 2007 Arras Grand Vintage, Tasmania, $250 (1500ml)
The only thing that could be better than a bottle of Arras Grand Vintage (a regular wine-show trophy winner) is a magnum of Grand Vintage: the same fabulously complex fizz – yellow flowers, lemon rind, vanilla wafer – just more of it. houseofarras.com.au
5. A lovely bottle of Christmas Eve Champagne: Veuve Fourny & Fils Blanc de Blancs Brut Premier Cru, Vertus, $70
An absolutely stunning example of classic blanc de blancs (100 per cent chardonnay) Champagne. It has entrancing perfume of baked bread and heather, fresh and chalky and bracing on the tongue. Great value too, really, at this price. imported by debortoli.com.au
Five fab fizzes, pictured from left.

Pink and red and purple and chilled

1. A pale, dry rosé for lazy Sunday lunch: 2018 Longview Nebbiolo Rosato, Adelaide Hills, $26
The Longview crew has totally nailed the pale, dry rosé style with this trophy-winning wine: just the merest hint of colour, delicate, gently fruity aromatics, then seriously savoury, creamy texture. Throw your best Niçoise-y salad at it. longviewvineyard.com.au
2. A snappy red for spicy snags grilled over charcoal: 2017 Domaine du Bel Air Jour de Soif, Loire Valley, $43
Loire Valley vins de soif – "thirstquenching wines" – made from cabernet franc are so hot right now. One sip of this and you'll see why: gorgeous perfume of violets and cherries, snappy and juicy in the mouth, great intensity and poise. Imported by heartandsoil.com.au
3 A posh red to give (or receive) at Christmas: 2016 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir, Martinborough, $95
Ata Rangi is one of NZ's top pinots, and the latest vintage is beautiful: bright and perfumed, floral and silky, wonderfully harmonious in the mouth. I can't think of any wine lover who wouldn't be thrilled to unwrap this on Christmas Day. Imported by negociants.com
4. A cool red for hot nights and sceptics: 2016 Latta Vino "Landsborough", Pyrenees, $38
This nebbiolo challenges the idea that "natural wines" (wild yeast, no filtration, no added sulphur, etc) don't age. It's heading for its third birthday and it's lovely, with slurpy red fruit, slick tannins, and hints of rustic rose petal and herb. lattavino.com.au
5. A big red for your brother's barbie: 2018 Kalleske Zeitgeist Shiraz, Barossa Valley, $26
This shiraz ticks all the barbecuered boxes: magnificent saturated colour, barrowloads of blackberry fruit, rich, supple, steak-friendly tannin. No need to tell anyone it's also biodynamic and preservativefree. Just geddit innya, mate. kalleske.com
Pink and red and purple and chilled, pictured from left.

Drinking white wine in the sun

1. A riesling for hungover yum cha: 2018 Rieslingfreak No 2, Polish Hill River, $37
I don't know about you, but when I'm feeling a little seedy on a Sunday, I find the combo of yum cha and yummy riesling very reviving. This'll get you back on track: vivid green apple and lime-leaf aroma, super-pure vitality on the tongue. rieslingfreak.com
2. A chardonnay to take on a fishing trip: 2017 Curly Flat Lacuna, Macedon Ranges, $30
There are plenty of terrifically tasty barrel-matured, "minerally" Oz chardonnays out there, but there's something straight-up delicious about this unoaked example that I find deeply moreish: a cascade of mouthwatering citrus flavour. curlyflat.com
3. A crisp Italian white for fish and chips: 2017 Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo, Campania, $40
Scintillating, blossom-scented, dry white made from the ancient greco grape, native to the hills around Naples, where they know a thing or two about frying fish. Works really well with salty, garlicky seafoody pasta dishes, too. Imported by santewines.com.au
4. A serious white for a winegeek's dinner party: 2016 Yangarra Roux Beauté Roussanne, McLaren Vale, $72
The roussanne grape isn't short of flavour or richness, and this one has added layers of complexity from extended skin contact and fermentation in big ceramic eggs. It's fabulously rich and textural and mouth-filling, but perfectly balanced, too. yangarra.com
5. A trendy orange wine for your hipster cousin: 2016 Ruggabellus Sallio, Barossa Valley, $28
Wild fermented sémillon and muscat and riesling that spent a few days on skins and a couple of years in barrel before bottling, unfined and unfiltered. Seductive perfume of orange water and grape pulp, dry and gently grippy on the tongue. ruggabellus.com.au
Drinking white wine in the sun, pictured from left.
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  • undefined: Max Allen