Recently, I met up in Palm Springs with a bunch of old friends. You might remember this intrepid group. They’re the ones who helped us uncover the best wines for all-day drinking a few years back. It didn’t take much to convince them that we needed to do more “research”—this time to find the best wines for poolside drinking. And since the five of us together represent a variety of tribes, it seemed the perfect time to have a Wine Tribe tasting. (Before you read any further, make sure to take our speedy quiz to discover your tribe and get customized recommendations based on your palate.)
We decided to blind-test two Chardonnays and two Rosés, all at different price points. As usual, we didn’t know the identity of the wines as we tasted them. Here was the line-up:
– Liberty School 2014 Central Coast Chardonnay (California): $17.99.
– Rombauer Vineyards 2015 Carneros Chardonnay (California): $36.99.
– Miraval 2015 Rosé de Provence (France): $29.99.
– Kendall Jackson 2013 Grand Reserve Rosé (California): $17.99.
Winning Wines . . . and Amy Schumer’s Pick
The Liberty School 2014 Central Coast Chardonnay was a winner, especially with the Balanced Tribe. They liked its scents of pear, citrus and oak and found the smooth tastes of lemon candy, buttered popcorn and pear very pleasing. It’s “like buttah” and it went down easy, though the wine had enough acid to pair well with our cheese and hummus tray. If you’re in the Balanced Tribe, this is the wine for you.
I put the Rombauer Chardonnay into the mix because it’s Amy Schumer’s favorite wine. I am a fan of Amy’s, and given how much she yaks about it, I thought it would be fun to try the wine she likes. Come to find out that Amy Schumer and I don’t have the same taste in wine. I’m guessing she’s in the Complex Tribe, because this is a big wine that our Complex tasters dug. With powerful aromas of baking spices, tobacco and oak, the Complex among us appreciated the Rombauer Chardonnay’s spicy scents. When paired with food, though, those strong aromas overpowered mild cheeses. “I don’t like tobacco with my food,” said one taster. But again, if you’re in the Complex Tribe and dig bold flavors of oak and honey (and yes, tobacco), this is a wine for you.
Favorite Wines, Old and New
The Miraval 2015 Rosé has been a winner in previous Wine Tribe tastings, but this time around it didn’t beat out the competition. Everyone, regardless of tribe affiliation, appreciated the wine’s pretty floral aromas and thought it was highly drinkable, but the feedback I got was tepid: “like water, it goes down easy” and “fine, but not interesting.” It’s worth noting that we were noshing on relatively spicy foods (a sharp cheddar, a cheese infused with mango chili and garlic stuffed olives) to which this wine simply didn’t hold up. My sense is that if you’re in the sun and refraining from spicy foods, this could be a winner. On the other hand, for $30 a bottle, why risk it?
Which leads me to the last wine, the Kendall Jackson 2013 Grand Reserve Rosé . I must admit that when I grabbed the bottle off the shelf, I assumed it would be a loser. Isn’t Kendall Jackson some huge corporate winery pumping out loads of mediocre wine? Apparently not, because I loved this wine and so did my fellow Developed Tribe members. It was a strong runner-up to the Liberty School wine for the Balanced Tribe, and tasters from other tribes liked it well enough. I think we can safely say that if you’re having a pool party, this is a crowd pleaser. When we smelled this wine, with its scents of cherries, currants and honey, my friends and I feared it might taste too sweet. But it’s a crisp wine with a nice balance of acid and flavors of strawberries and green apples. It held up nicely with food, yet was completely drinkable on its own. Such a nice surprise.
The Summer Summary
So the big winners were the Liberty School Chard and the Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Rosé. Lucky for all of us, these were the two least expensive options. That’s a nice reminder that price is not always an indication of quality. And with that, happy Summer to you and cheers to future poolside drinking!