Chef Jeff’s Summer Wines: Wine Cellar Quality At Tampa Bay Grocery Store Prices

Summer Wines By Chef Jeff Hearn Special correspondent,

Yep, it’s hot.  Yes, I need something cool to drink when I’m hanging out.  And, yes, I need a big wine to go with the meat when it comes off the grill.

These are some way above average wines with very average prices.  I even checked to make sure most of them are available at the place “where shopping is a pleasure” in my neighborhood. Each selection is rated between 87-91 points by published wine experts.  Grab a couple of these and share them with your friends. You’ll notice how much more your friends want to get together when you serve the good stuff!

Conundrum, California 2010 $18

Think peaches and pears with a light floral bouquet. This white wine is made by the legendary winemakers at Caymus Vineyards. Caymus red wines often sell for more than $100. This is a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Muscat Canelli and Sémillon. It works, try it.

Catena Malbec, Mendoza (Argentina) 2009, $18

This is #58 on the Wine Spectator Top 100 list for 2011. Serve with grilled steaks or ribs. Malbec Trivia: Nicolas Catena, the founder’s grandson, has a PhD in Economics and taught at UC Berkley before returning to the family business.  His daughter, Laura, has degrees from Harvard and Stanford and was an emergency room physician before returning to the family vineyard to lead their research and development program.

Montes Alpha Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley (Chile), 2008, $18

This white wine makes you think of apple, pear, and fig and some fancy-pants expert said it has “piecrust notes.” Who thinks up these phrases? Drink it chilled with a salad, fish, or chicken…or by itself.

King Estate Pinot Gris Signature Selection,

Oregon, 2010, $15

One wine magazine described this wine as, “Light and crisp, with pear and melon flavors.” This would be great with seafood.

d’Arenberg, Viognier-Marsanne, Adelaide,

The Hermit Crab, 2009,  $15

Cute name with great summer flavors; passion fruit and pineapple aromas and flavors with apricot on the finish. Look for the red diagonal stripe across the label.

Castle Rock, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2010, $12

“A light, silky red.” This is especially good with grilled salmon, risotto, and pasta.  Serve slightly chilled.

Here is a list of some Tampa Bay stores that carry these wines:

Most Sweetbay and Publix supermarkets

Tosti’s Spirits and Fine Wine
5125 34th St S, Saint Petersburg, FL 33711
(727) 867-7772
Bern’s Fine Wines & Spirits
1002 S Howard Ave. Tampa, FL 33606
(813) 250-9463
Top Shelf Liquor Wine & Cigars
915 Lithia Pinecrest Rd, Brandon, FL 33511
(813) 661-1800
Jeff Hearn has been perfecting his cooking skills for than 25 years and is the co-host, with wife Donna, of the syndicated reality cooking show,  “Eat Cheap Drink Rich.”  Take a look at all 26 episodes and join the conversation on

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