Summer in a Glass

Mt. Beautiful Pinot Gris with a Charcuterie

We gathered at the perfect outdoor summer setting in San Diego on the tropical terraced patio adjoining the pool of two of our wine tasting group.


Marc and Robin Simpson, our hosts for the Wine Review Council, invited us to sample pairings of wines with a summer influence of lighter bodies paired with delectable food.

Mt. Beautiful Winery from North Canterberry, New Zealand, shared with our group a Pinot Gris which was our first tasting of the day. It was paired with a charcuterie, a perfect pairing because of the contrast of the cheeses, vegetables, and meats.  This Pinot Gris had a beautiful golden color and was one that our group liked very much. It is a good value at only $18 per bottle.


The Cameron Hughes Wine of the 2017 Pinot Gris from the Willamette Valley of Oregon was a bit sweeter than we expected from a Pinot Gris with flavors of apple and pear. It seemed to pair well with the pesto appetizer which brought the perfect earthiness to the pairing. The shrimp ceviche also worked well with it because of the contrast of the sweetness of the wine and the tartness of the ceviche. The price of this Pinot Gris is $12, making it a good everyday drinking wine.

Mt. Beautiful Rosé and Cameron Hughes Rosé paired with Mushroom Caps

Mt. Beautiful’s Rosé was also paired with the charcuterie platter.  This rosé offers the traditional rosé bouquet of flowers and summer fruits, especially watermelon. The color shows off a delicate salmon hue and is comprised of a mix of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. It paired well with the rich and creamy cheeses. The rosé is priced at $18.

We also sampled a 2017 Cameron Hughes Rosé from Arroyo Seco which had a beautiful coral color. On the nose, strawberries abounded. A sip brought summer to us with a big strawberry taste as well as apple. This rose is what I like because it was dry. The pairing of crab-stuffed mushrooms was excellent because of the earthy flavor of the mushrooms. Priced at $13, this is a good rosé to enjoy on a warm summer day.

Vertical tastings are always a favorite of mine where the wine taster gets to sample the same wine from different years. Talawind Ranch  boasts of some lovely Pinot Noirs located in the heart of the Russian River Valley. We were about to sample Pinot Noir from the years 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Talawind Ranch 2016 Pinot Noir paired with Prosciutto and Pear Flatbread

The youngest of the group, the 2016, was a very deep garnet color, darker than most Pinot Noirs. We found the wine to be quite spicy with flavors of cola and sassafras. This wine was aged in French oak barrels which help bring out the earthiness. A great pairing was the prosciutto and pear flatbread. The 2016 sells for $30.

Talawind Ranch 2015 Pinot Noir with Grilled Peaches and Ricotta

We were on to tasting the Talawind Ranch 2015 Pinot Noir. The first thing we noticed was how much lighter the 2015 was in contrast to the 2016, more to typicity for a Pinot Noir. The tannins are quite soft on this Pinot Noir, and it has the characteristic black cherry with a bit of herbal flavor. Grilled peaches stuffed with homemade ricotta and seasoned with garlic, thyme and mint added a creaminess with a hint of herbs and complemented the Pinot Noir well.

The last of our vertical tasting was the 2014 Talawind Ranch Pinot Noir. Again, the color was a beautiful cherry color typical of Pinot Noir. We tasted those black cherries and delicate spices expected from a Pinot Noir. We even picked up a hint of orange flavor. The tannins were smooth on the palate. As a group, we all liked this Pinot Noir the most. The pairing of pesto as well as a black olive hummus contrasted nicely with the wine. You can purchase it for $30.

Summer Table for Wine Tasting

There is still a bit of summer left where we can enjoy some of these lighter wines to be shared with good friends on a sunny patio.