About the Region (Beachside Bottles)
June is hands-down one of my favorite months. After a year’s worth of anticipation, it’s finally all about sun, sand, and salty sea air again – and I’m beyond ready to pop the corks on some seriously thirst-quenching bottles. This month, I want to bring some of my favorite ‘beachside bottles’ straight to your door. While most of us (myself included) won’t be hopping on flights to coastal Italy or a sun-soaked Mediterranean island anytime soon, pouring a glass from one of these four delicious picks is basically the next best thing. So let’s dive in!
First, we’re heading to southwestern Italy and hitting Campania. Known for its rainbow houses, crystalline sea waters, and Neapolitan-style pizza, this sun-soaked region is home to some of Italy’s most interesting viticultural sites. Here, crisp white wines are produced from Fiano, Greco, and a handful of other indigenous varieties, while inky, flavor-packed reds are made from Aglianico. Campania-based vineyards benefit from abundant sunshine, dry summers, and mild winters, which make viticulture rather easy. Fruit here is greatly influenced by salty sea breezes that blow off the Tyrrhenian Sea, as well as cool mountain air that comes down from the Apennine Mountains. Guido Marsella has been organically farming here for 25 years and is putting out some of the region’s best wines. His Fiano is crisp, zesty, and flavor-packed, marked by bright acidity and juicy fruit-forwardness.
Our next bottle keeps it close to home and is produced by two of my dear friends, Lyle and Eric Railsback. These two are absolutely crushing it out in Santa Barbara! Their ‘Rascasses’ rosé is produced in the heart of Santa Ynez, and it pays homage to Lulu Peyraud of Domaine Tempier, the unofficial Queen of Provencal winemaking. Lulu has been making Provence’s signature fish stew (bouillabaisse) for nearly a century now, and rascasse is the type of fish used in the recipe. This Tempier-inspired rosé is one of my favorite bottles to crack and drink by the pool on a warm June afternoon – the fact that it's made by two of our dear friends at Verve makes the deal that much sweeter!
Contrary to popular belief, I actually love drinking red wines in the summer. Fresh, light-bodied bottles are delightful when served chilled at weekend picnics or happy hours outside, and heartier, more robust bottles are perfect for pairing with red meats on the grill. The first red in this shipment falls in the fresh and light-bodied category, and I absolutely can’t get enough of it. Liguria is one of the most breathtaking places in all of Italy, and its vineyard sites are no exception. Here, staggering terraced vines rest against the turquoise Mediterranean Sea, where they benefit from ample sunlight and salty sea breezes. Rossese is one of Italy’s lesser-known varieties, but for those who love Gamay, Pinot Noir, and other red varieties that lead to peppery, easy-drinking reds, this grape should definitely be on your radar. Pop the cork on this one next time the mood for something fresh and fruity strikes.
We’re ending this month’s journey in Corsica, because what better place to conclude a sandy beachside getaway than one of Europe’s most famous islands? Here, scrubby landscapes and steep mountainsides dominate the island’s rugged terrain, which is extremely conducive to growing grapes. Yves Leccia is an absolute legend in the world of Corsican winemaking, and his Île de Beauté Rouge is one of my favorite wines to sip at summer barbecues. When paired with juicy hamburgers, tender steaks, or even portobello mushrooms, this bottle is simply out of this world.
I truly hope you enjoy this little taste of summer sipping as much as I do. From our Verve Wine family to yours, we wish you safety and good health during these trying times. We hope that The Grand Tour continues to lift your spirits (and keep you hydrated) throughout the coming weeks. Please continue to share your wine experiences with us on social media. There’s nothing we love more than seeing you dive into your monthly Grand Tour.
Dustin Wilson, Master Sommelier
Guido Marsella Fiano di Avellino
Guido Marsella’s eponymous estate is located in the heart of southern Italy’s Campania region, and was founded back in 1995. Fruit for his Fiano comes from a 7-hectare organically farmed vineyard site in Summonte, which is the highest point in Avellino (650 meters/more than 2,000 feet above sea level). Post-harvest, Guido ferments and ages the wine in steel for 12 months, followed by one year of bottle aging prior to release. This zesty and easy-drinking bottle shows flavors of tropical fruit, lemon cream, honeydew, and citrus rind.
PAIRING IDEAS: This juicy yet light-on-its-feet white is perfect for serving with seafood, lemon spaghetti, or lobster-based dishes.
Railsback Frères 'Les Rascasses' Rosé
This thirst-quenching rosé is made by our friends Lyle and Eric Railsback in California’s Santa Ynez Valley. Produced from oak-aged Grenache, Carignane, and Cinsault, Les Rascasses rosé pays homage to Lulu Peyarud of Domaine Tempier and her famous bouilla- baisse recipe. Notes of strawberries, cream, tart red currants, and blood orange dominate this ultra-refreshing palate. Looking to mentally transport yourself to the sunny south of France? Simply pop the cork on this bottle!
PAIRING IDEAS: This savory Grenache-dominant wine is the perfect example of what we like to call a ‘food rosé.’ The wine tastes great on its own, though it really comes to life when served with grilled salmon, fresh goat cheese, or, of course, Lulu-inspired bouillabaisse!
Punta Crena ‘Vigneto Isasco’ Rossese
Punta Crena has been owned and operated by the Ruffino family for an impressive 500+ years. The estate’s sea-influenced vines are cultivated on terraced hillsides against the turquoise Mediterranean Sea and are all organically farmed . This crunchy varietal Rossese comes from the region’s signature terra rosa (red clay) soils and is marked by notes of juicy cherry, white pepper, and tomato leaf. For a taste of Liguria’s breathtaking beauty, pour yourself a chilled glass from this bottle.
PAIRING IDEAS: Treat this wine as you would your favorite white or rosé: Pop a quick chill on it, serve yourself a hefty pour, and enjoy with all of your favorite aperitivo snacks (fresh crudité, charcuterie, or fritto misto, anyone?)
Yves Leccia Île de Beauté ‘Rouge’
Corsican native Yves Leccia has been making wines on his home island for decades, though it wasn’t until 2004 that he decided to venture out on his own and create his eponymous estate. Yves organically farms a handful of saline-tinged plots across Patrimonio and the Île de Beauté regional appellation. His wines are regarded as some of the best coming out of Corsica today, and we couldn’t agree more. This 80/20 Grenache and Niellucciu blend is hand-harvested and, like all of his wines, entirely vinified in steel – which is a bit ironic, considering his name (Leccia) means ‘oak’ in the local Corsican dialect. Notes of juicy cherries, black olives, and crushed rocks dominate this savory, sun-kissed wine.
PAIRING IDEAS: This grippy yet pleasant red is perfect for pairing with all things grilled. Whether veggies or meats are more your style, simply light up the grill, pop a chill on this bottle, and bring the essence of Corsica straight to your home.