12 Summer Wines for Stone Crabs, Grilled Sausages and Bendy Straws
In the height of beach and grilling season, we asked Miami wine shop owner Jeffrey Wolfe to tell us about 12 wines that are perfect for hot and sultry summer days. He picked wines that are crisp, easy and so quaffable that you could drink them with a straw.
For the past 15 years, Jeffrey Wolfe has been bringing extraordinary wines to Miami’s Coral Gables at his Wolfe's Wines shop. Every Friday he hosts tastings at the shop—many of which involve food pairings. A culinary school grad, Wolfe often fires up the grill himself to make dishes that go superbly with the wine. His most recent match involved off-dry German Riesling and char-grilled sausages.
Related: Sausage Recipes
In the height of beach and grilling season, we asked Wolfe to tell us about 12 wines that are perfect for hot and sultry summer days. He picked wines that are crisp, easy and so quaffable that you could drink them with a straw. Here, the bottles he’d pick—if someone else was buying:
1. NV Larmandier-Bernier Longitude Blanc de Blanc Extra Brut Champagne
"This is a Blanc de Blanc, which means it’s 100% Chardonnay—and it’s premier cru fruit. It’s angular, lean, minerally, beautiful, and it just makes you want to eat something. It makes you salivate. If somebody’s buying this for me, I want it with caviar; I want stone crabs; I want raw shellfish. I love Larmandier-Bernier’s rosé, too. It’s my favorite rosé on the planet. I love the village, I love the producer, I love the style. It’s not restrained, they let the wine happen, but it’s elegant at the same time."
2. 2014 Matthiasson Rosé
"I love Steve and Jill Matthiasson’s story. Steve’s a big viticulture consultant in Napa for red wines, but for their winery, he’s really doing what he loves with white wines and Italian varieties. Their rosé is just delicious. It’s a blend of Syrah and Grenache and Mourvedre and it’s as close to Provence as you can get in California. And there’s something about the label. It features drawings of all these pruning shears. When it came into the store, I showed it to my kid, who was six at the time, and I said, 'what do you see here?' And he turned it upside down and he said, 'I see a monkey, dad.'"
3. 2014 Lieu Dit Sauvignon Blanc Santa Ynez
"This is made by Justin Willett from Tyler winery and a sommelier, Eric Railsback. They’re doing all Loire Valley varietals in Santa Barbara: Cab Franc, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin. I think the Santa Ynez Sauvignon Blanc is their best wine. It’s tropical, it’s racy. We talk about lieu dit vineyards all the time in the store—which in France refers to named vineyards that aren’t classified—that’s what inspires theses wines. It’s a great value and it’s crisp and super refreshing. The acid in this wine makes it perfect with goat cheese. All Sauvignon Blanc, when it’s super high in acid, is great with goat cheese because it’s a high acid cheese. And goat cheese is so nice in the summer—light and refreshing."
4. 2014 Ameztoi Txakolina
"If only they would make this in a half-bottle. Remember when we were kids, there were those straws that looked like roller coasters? They were all intertwined? One of those and a half-bottle of txakolina and you’re set—just something fun for the beach."
5. 2014 Matteo Correggia Arneis Roero
"This has a warm place in my heart. One of the first wine trips I took was to Piedmont and it was just five months after [winemaker] Matteo [Correggia] had passed away. We went to the cantina and his wife was there with their young, young kids. It was just very dark and dramatic. I had loved the wines before that, but afterward I vowed that I would never not have one of his wines on the shelf for as long as I live. Forever. This has been my wine for stone crabs whenever stone crab season comes to Miami. It’s just perfect with Joe’s Stone Crab and the mustard sauce. I call it the Sauvignon Blanc of Italy and it’s great with anything shellfish."
6. 2013 Ceritas Pinnacle Vineyard Chardonnay
"This young couple is sourcing fruit from cool places. This is cool-climate from Pinnacle Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It’s lean, beautiful and it makes me think of lobster… lobster rolls… the northeast…sitting out on the dock in the breeze. The minerality of it pairs with the richness of mayonnaise and lobster."
7. 2012 Peter Lauer Stirn Riesling
"I was recently in New York and we had dinner at Ma Peche; that wine list has killer values under 60 bucks. And they had the '89 vintage of this wine on the list. It was a little tired, but it was amazing. The Stirn has some residual sugar and I think 10 degrees of alcohol, so it pairs great with a lot of the south Floridian, multicultural flavors that come together here—everything from Caribbean to Afro-Caribbean to Chinese to Cuban—things that are spicy or aromatic. We just did a sausage and Riesling tasting last Friday and it was awesome with spicy chorizo. I’d imagine a spicy seafood sausage would be great as well.”
8. 2012 Catherine & Pierre Breton Trinch! Bourgueil
"Catherine and Pierre Breton are naturalists in the Loire Valley. He makes the reds and she makes the whites. This is their dilettante style of Cab Franc. This, in a little ice, nice and chilled on the beach with a little saucisson, is perfect. It’s super light and it’s a great red that you can chill. Some people like the gamey quality of green pepper in Cab Franc, but this is understated. Trinch! Is the noise that glasses make when you toast."
9. 2013 Abbatucci Rouge Frais Impérial
"We stock a lot of wines from Corsica. This is made with all Sciaccarellu grapes, which are native there. It hovers somewhere between being a rosé and a lighter red. It, too, is great with a little chill on it. I think they call it 'Frais' because they’re likening it to frais de bois, which are wild strawberries from France. It was wild Sciacarellu that grew out of nowhere. My favorite rosé from Corsica right now is from Domaine de Marquiliani. I call it 'raspberry clouds.'"
10. 2013 A. et P. Villaine Mercurey Les Montots
"This is Pinot from Bouzeron, from Mercurey. It’s young, young Burgundy, but we opened a bottle about a month ago and we decanted it, and an hour later, it was singing. I think it would be great with a steak on the grill. If you want to open it and show off your decanter for a little bit while the steaks are on the grill, it’s a perfect Pinot Noir for that."
11. 2013 Jean Foillard Côte du Py Morgon
"My first wine trip ever was with Kermit Lynch and we went to Beaujolais. I’m pretty sure we were at Thevenet’s property. This was in the early ‘90s and the gang of four was there—the four greatest Beaujolais producers: Jean-Paul Thevenet, Guy Breton, Jean Foillard and Marcel Lapierre. And the wines—they sold me. I’ve been buying them for 15 years and every year they get better and better. The Côte du Py is gorgeous. The wines are a fraction of the cost of Burgundy and they’re minerally and delicious; there’s tension in the wines. It’s a great bottle for the summer, on its own or even with a crawfish boil. I call it grand cru Beaujolais."
12. 2013 Pierre Gonon St. Joseph
"Right after we got this in, Eric Asimov of the New York Times wrote about it. The Gonon boys have gotten a piece of an old Syrah producer’s vineyard. It’s super, super old vines—the guy doesn’t have any heirs and they got him to sell them his fruit. The wine is spectacular. There’s an energy and vivaciousness in the wines and they’re just second to none—and they’re reasonable, still! When you put them up with against St. Josephs from Chave and other producers, these are in the $50 range. You could have it with a steak or really anything—even on its own."
Wolfe’s Wines, 124 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, Florida; wolfeswines.com.