Binny's Blind Tasting Panel: Summer Wines

Blind Wine Tasting: the Perfect Summer Wines

Tasting wine without knowing producer, provenance or prestige is the most honest way to evaluate quality based solely on merit, not preconceptions.

Grifoni Pecorino Tara 2021

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Our panel loved this super crisp summer delight made from the somewhat obscure central Italian pecorino grape. It struck us with its overt intensity and multi-dimensional palate. It’s not an easygoing patio wine but a wine with a complexly filigreed palate that begs for food. Almond, lilac, floral nectarine, apricot nectar, Cara Cara orange and carambola are accented by savory herbs, crisp acidity and saline minerality. The price to quality ratio here is off the charts! Pair with fresh or salty cheeses (including pecorino), salads and chilled seafood.

Dawn Chorus Sauvignon Blanc 2022

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Certainly a New Zealand sauvignon blanc. That was immediately evident purely from the fresh aromatic profile that no glass could hope to contain. Yet there was a subtle and appealing difference to the mouthwatering grapefruit, passionfruit, melon, fresh herbs and subtle minerality. Perhaps not quite as pungent? Rounder? Lo and behold, it’s not a Marlborough wine, but Hawke’s Bay where cab, merlot and syrah hold sway. A perfect summer sipper with or without food.

d'Arenberg Viognier Marsanne The Hermit Crab 2021

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Bursts from the glass with spring flowers, bruised peach, apricot, mango, lime blossom, honey and ginger. Round and fleshy but fresh. Ripe but unencumbered by new oak, however, seasoned oak does bring texture to complement marsanne’s waxy roundness while the viognier drives the fruit truck. Juicy and fruity enough to get crabby curmudgeon out of the hermitage and onto the porch swing. Crab legs, shrimp, lobster, beurre blanc, fruit salsa, Thai...

Garzon Albariño 2021

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Light on its feet delivering great intensity of super juicy, cleansing acidity and salinity supporting orange creamsicle, ripe pear, peach and honeysuckle. Some guessed Albariño but catching that this classically styled Spanish variety hailed from Uruguay was another matter. Tasty and refreshing enough for the patio, this will really come into its own with smoked fish, grilled fish, mussels or grilled octopus with crispy charred tentacles and a sprinkling of smoked paprika.

Robert Oatley Margaret River Chardonnay 2021

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The Margaret River growing region, on the remote western coast, is far removed from the heart of Australia’s wine industry in the southeast. Maybe that is why they have developed uniquely delicious styles of cab and chardonnay. Tasters were very impressed by this deftly balanced value. Tropical fruit, ripe melon and a vibrant lemony acidity are countered by beautifully integrated oak, roasted hazelnut and buttered popcorn. Sip or pair with picnic fair like lobster rolls, grilled shrimp or grape and nut studded chicken salad. Superbly crafted and very affordable.

Stolpman Love You Bunches Rose 2022

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The panel found this to be a serious rosé that stands out from a crowded field tutti fruity gluggers. Rather than turning out another liquid fruit cocktail, Stolpman explores the sophisticated side of rose that often comes at double the price. Not only can this compete with top rose, it will vie for the attention of dry white lovers as well. It’s dry and refreshing with impressive depth and texture. Yet it’s still lively and fun with hints of flowers and herbs dancing around strawberry, tart cherry, melon, orange and lemon. Tapenade, hummus, pan con tomate, salad Niçoise.

Kermit Lynch Cotes du Rhone 2020

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The broad consensus- a flat out bargain built for BBQ. Brambly red fruit, black cherries, blackberries, savory herbs, peppery spice, a hint of black olive and a whisp of smoke in a beautifully balanced frame beg for grilled and smoked meats. Brisket, ribs, pulled pork, hot links, BBQ chicken, you name it. Oh, and absolutely perfect with a juicy bacon cheeseburger.This grenache based blend will make your next backyard bash a smash and it’s a steal!

Domaine Romy Beaujolais Pierre Dorées Vieilles Vignes 2021

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A perfect picnic wine packed with raspberry, pomegranate and cranberry. Fruity and fun but a clear streak of turned earth adds interest. Serve lightly chilled with soft ripened cheeses, saucisson sec, terrine de campagne and all manner of charcuterie, not to mention chilled smoked pheasant or grilled paillard of chicken. Ultimately versatile and completely delicious!

Susana Balbo Crios Malbec 2021

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Bold, flashy, broad-shouldered, burly and packed with dark, plummy, brambly chutney-like spiced fruit. This is a big wine but still offers delicate floral nuances of vanilla, violets and aromatic black tea. This delivers at a level so beyond its price that the panel concluded that trying to find a better value wine for a charcoal grilled steak is pure folly. Pair with ribeye, beef ribs and burgers.

Ashbrook Estate Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

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This wowed everybody! Lifted, crunchy and tangy red fruit, plum and blackberry with a top note of violet, vanilla scented oak and mint. Great balance, flashy but not over the top with excellent oak integration. Tannins are fine and silky, giving the wine a super soft texture that will have broad appeal yet there is plenty going on to hold the interest of fine wine drinkers. Another gem from Australia’s Margaret River. Pair with anything from grilled pork chops to steak. Unrivaled cab at this price!

Contributing Panelists:

  • Alicia Barrett, Wine Educator & Tasting Panel Chair
  • Todd Behrend, Wine Consultant, South Loop 
  • Nathan Cornish, Wine Manager, Orland Park 
  • Barbara Hermann, Wine Director & Wine Buyer 
  • Doug Jeffirs, Director of Wine Sales 
  • Jamie McNee, Wine Manager, Portage Park 
  • Drew Schad, Wine Consultant, Lakeview 
  • Gabe Zdrojkowski, Wine Manager, Lincoln Park