No Way, Rosé… but YES to Summer Reds!

Summer Reds for When You’re Sick of Rosé 

Warm weather doesn’t mean red wine has to go into hiding. We’ve compiled five styles of summer reds perfect with a bit of chill and an afternoon by the grill, for the next time you want to say “No way, rosé.”

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While there’s nothing like rosé in the summer, if you’re outside enjoying wine on a warm evening, chances are there’s a grill a stone’s throw away. Hearty summer barbecue fare may mean it’s time to put down the pink and pick up a wine with a little more body, fruit and tannins. For your next picnic or cookout, shake things up with a slightly chilled, lighter style red.

Here are five styles of red wine perfect for when the grill starts to heat up, and top value selections for each.

Oregon Pinot Noir

Crafted in more of a Burgundian style than its neighboring California cohorts, these wines can be somewhat rustic and earthy, loaded with Bing cherry and cranberry. Their high acidity and complex structure make them enjoyable to pair with all sorts of seafood and lighter fare. With an overall cool and somewhat damp climate, Oregon can have notable vintage variation so be sure to check our WE vintage chartfor the best years.

Recommended Wine

Le Cadeau 2016 Diversité Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley); $50, 93 points. This multi-clonal selection is lushly endowed with a bright mix of red fruit, recalling cranberry, pomegranate, raspberry and cherry. It’s annotated with orange peel highlights and orange blossom scents. The detail and subtlety are impressive. Editors’ Choice. —Paul Gregutt

Finger Lakes Blaufränkisch

If Finger Lake reds haven’t been on your radar, now is the time. While the Rieslingand Chardonnay get most of the attention, this northern New York region produces high quality red varietal wines as well. While Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir are more common, Blaufränkisch is the unsung hero of the group. Exuding black fruits, earthy minerality and pleasant herbal notes, these wines are ideal for summer sipping.

Recommended Wine

Dr. Konstantin Frank 2016 Blaufränkisch (Finger Lakes); $22, 88 points. Sour cherry, bramble berry and a bit of pepper carry the nose of this wine. The medium-bodied palate is soft in feel, with juicy red cherry and strawberry flavors that meld with a floral lilt. This is enjoyable for its immediate easydrinking appeal. —Alexander Peartree

Cru Beaujolais

No, not Beaujolais Nouveau, which certainly has its time and place. Cru Beaujolais is arguably the finest expression of Gamay in the world. The carbonic maceration—fermenting whole cluster grapes before crush—leads to a lighter, fruit-driven, lower-tannin style of wine. When crafted from grapes in top regions such as Moulin-à-Vent, Brouilly, Morgon and Fleurie, you will find some of the most interesting wines in all of France.

Recommended Wine

Domaine des Marrans 2016 Fleurie; $21, 91 points. This is a ripe and juicy wine. Tannins support the generous layers of red-berry and cherry fruits and acidity. The wine has a succulent quality, spicy and fruity at the end. Drink from mid-2018. —Roger Voss

Puglia Primitivo

While you may know it as Zinfandel, Primitivo is one of the most popular varieties of the southern Italian region of Puglia. While value California Zins tend to be a bit bulky, Primitivo lean towards wild berry and black pepper notes with earthy and floral tones backed by vibrant acidity. These well-structured wines make a perfect pair for spicy barbecue ribs straight off the grill.

Recommended Wine

A Mano 2015 Imprint Primitivo (Puglia); $15, 88 points. There’s a surprising intensity to the aromas of fresh blackberries, turned earth and violets. The palate mirrors the nose in a package of grippy tannins and crisp acidity. While enjoyably straightforward in nature, the concentration is rather light, so enjoy for its immediate appeal. —A.P.

Austrian Zweigelt

These sassy, zippy wines are brimming with delightful red cherry and red berry flavors backed by white pepper spice. Zweigelt’s high acidity helps create a wine ideal for chilling at your next summer soirée. The cool climate of many Austrian wine regions keeps these wines light and fun with immediate appeal.

Recommended Wine

Artner 2016 Klassik Zweigelt (Carnuntum); $14, 91 points.Aromatic pure cherry sends a message of pleasure and poise. This well-defined, precise and utterly fresh fruit blazes across the slender but dense palate that is outlined by freshness and verve. Purity is its virtue. Pleasure, seemingly, is its sole purpose. What a lovely, fresh and vivid wine. Best Buy. —Anne Krebiehl
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Sometimes the Answers ARE at the Bottom of the Bottle…

‘Long Finish’ As featured in Wine Enthusiast

A bottle of wine can open up communication and evoke emotion like nothing else in the world.

There are few things as dynamic, engaging and provocative as a bottle of wine. Contained in that bottle are the blood, sweat and tears of the hundreds of people involved in its production. The fact that it ages and has its own life cycle sets it apart from just about any other beverage. But it’s what can occur between individuals who share a special bottle that makes it so intriguing.

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Just to be clear, I’m not advocating overindulgence. However, it sometimes takes more than just a sip, or even a glass, to open the doors of communication and set the human spirit free. Often, the last sip of wine is the best. It can take some time for a wine to open up and reach its full potential. But when you sit with a friend or family member and look forward to an in-depth conversation about life, the improvement and evolution of that wine is part of the overall enjoyment.

2015 Bismark Cabernet Sauvignon 750ml

My parents were over for dinner last year, and I opened a bottle of Hanna 2013 Bismark Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. It was young and opulent upon opening, but my dad and I agreed it was going to improve dramatically in just a short while. So as we sipped, we talked.

 

We talked about the wine, of course. But we also discussed the amazing playoff run the Yankees were on, and how the team compared to those of the late 1970s that we loved so dearly. We talked about how, a few years back, he had lost his passion for oil painting, but he had just started his first new painting in ages. And as we sipped, not only did the wine improve, but so did the content of our conversation.

As we enjoyed our last glass, my daughter came flying into the room to give him a big ol’ Grandpa hug. Filled with emotion, he wanted to make sure I knew that my daughter, his only granddaughter, had filled the void left when he and my mom lost their first child and only daughter shortly after her first birthday.

Of course, having my brother and I soon after that traumatic event certainly helped. But never having a little girl around had apparently left a vacancy in his heart and soul that was never fully repaired until now. And as we discussed this truly heartfelt and intimate revelation, we realized that the bottle was finished.

As anticipated, the last sip was indeed the best.

‘Long Finish’ As featured in Wine Enthusiast

How to Taste Wine Like a Pro

Ever feel like the pros at wine tastings are speaking their own secret language? In a way, they are. Learn the ins and outs of “tasting grids,” which set the standard for how we evaluate wines and the words we use to talk about them.

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Ever wonder how the pros tackle a wine tasting?

Whether it’s the Wine & Spirit Education Trust’s (WSET) Systematic Approach to Tasting, the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Deductive Tasting Format or any other wine education system, most have a common element: The tasting grid.

The tasting grid provides a guide for an objective description of a wine’s character and quality. While there are differences between various grids, they allow the taster to gauge a wine based on appearance, nose and palate, which leads to an unbiased conclusion of quality, age and development.

So how do wine tasting grids work, and what should you do when you approach a new pour?

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Judging appearance

The first step is to look at the wine against a white backdrop, like a blank piece of paper. This ensures that wines are not distorted by external colors.

In addition to the color, there are various levels of intensity to gauge. White wines gain color as they age, ranging from lemon and gold to dark caramel. By contrast, reds lose color and intensity with age, as they progress from purple to ruby to deep tawny. So while a typical aged Barolo might be described as pale or medium garnet (a hue between ruby and tawny), a young Australian Shiraz may lean toward deep purple or ruby.

Approaching the nose

Here’s where it starts to get fun. First, you swirl. Swirling allows for increased oxygenation, which can bring out more complex secondary aromas.

The first assessment is to determine if the wine is clean or faulty. Faults can include excess levels of brettanomyces, cork taint, volatile acidity or oxidization. Once you’ve determined a wine is free of faults, the next step is to gauge intensity.

Intensity is usually measured on a scale of low, medium or high. If you can smell a wine from a few inches away, it’s generally regarded as high intensity. If you must put your nose slightly inside the glass, that would equate to a medium intensity. Medium-minus and medium-plus cover the ranges in-between. If you can detect the wine’s aroma with the glass just below your nose, it might be considered medium-plus.

Aroma characteristics are where much obscure wine-geek jargon originates. Aromas of pencil shavings, cat pee, rubber hose or wet dog? The tasting grid tries to eliminate these subjective and eccentric descriptors with specific, standardized terms for each aroma cluster.

Wine tasting notes
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Evaluating the palate

The description of the palate, or what you taste, is by far the most in-depth category. A complete tasting note would include levels of sweetness, acid, tannin, alcohol, body and intensity. Once again, these are all graded at low, medium and high levels, with plus or minus used as modifiers for the medium range. Flavor characteristics and finish are factored in as well.

With flavor, the wine is to be described in terms of primary attributes like fruit, floral, herbal or spice. Secondary characteristics include oak, earth, and flavors that result from production techniques like malolactic fermentation and lees contact. Tertiary factors can be bottle age, oxidation and long-term fruit development. Just as with the aroma descriptions, fruit should be organized in clusters.

For example, a young Napa Cab could boast black fruit flavors (black cherry, blackcurrant), where a Sonoma Coast Pinot would more likely exude red fruit character (red cherry, strawberry and raspberry).

Once you’ve nailed down the flavor profile, determining the length of the finish and the wine’s overall complexity is the final step.

Drawing conclusions

For the Court of Master Sommeliers’ grid, there are two conclusions to be drawn. The initial conclusion is to deem a wine as Old World or New World, examining the type of climate, possible grape varieties and country of origin. This gives way to a final assessment of vintage, grape, country, region and designation.

The WSET conclusion starts with an assessment of quality and readiness to drink. That leads to a similar final assessment of grape variety and origin, but also includes style and method of production.

While some variance exists between programs, the premise remains the same for any tasting grid. Dissecting a wine using a formal system based on sight, smell, taste and feel can be equal parts art and science, but the first time you’re able to guess a vintage or variety at a blind tasting accurately, the payoff is worth it.

Check out these samples of the WSET and Court of Master Sommeliers tasting grids, and see if you can taste like a pro at home.

A Glass Enclosed Stunning Custom Wine Cellar Video… with a Nod to Jack!

If seeing really stunning wine cellars makes you too envious for words, than I suggest you DO NOT click on this link below… But, if you dig that cellar porn and want to check out a simply gorgeous showcase wine cellar video tour, then have a look here. Enjoy!

Glass Enclosed Custom Wine Cellar Video Tour

My WSET Diploma Level 4 Exam Experience

Marshall Tilden III, DWS, CSW

Wine has been a passion of mine for just about as long as I have been allowed to drink it. From the bottles of straw bottomed Chianti and Pere Patriarche Rouge on my grandparent’s dinner table, to a 1986 Premier Cru Gevrey-Chambertin that my pops selected one night at Spark’s Steak house (my ‘epiphany wine’), it has always been a part of my life. The more I sipped,  the more curious I became about everything that went into wine and what made it so damn tasty. Once I started working in the biz, IImage result for Pere Patriarche Rouge decided I needed to step up my ‘wine geek’ status a notch or two which was when I decided to enroll in the WSET.  The Wine and Spirits Education trust is based in England with satellite schools throughout the globe and is one of the most recognized and respected wine education organizations in the world. They offer…

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Thanksgiving Wine and Turkey Pairing Recs

You may want to sit down for this: Thanksgiving is a mere week away! How crazy is that?! But ready or not, here it comes. Which means that both your menu and wine lineup need to start rapidly coming together. Even if you are not hosting (which makes life that much easier) you can still have a huge impact on the meal by bringing the right wines for your family and friends to enjoy. I mean, who doesn’t love the guy who rolls in with a few bottles of great juice?! Which then begs the question… what are the right wines to pair with a traditional Thanksgiving meal?

The great thing about a roasted turkey and all the trimmins is that there are a ton of wines that will pair well with the meal. It just depends on what style of wine you crew prefer. The one possible wine component you may want to try and avoid are very high tannins. Turkey doesn’t have the fat content of red meat, which typically will bind with those tannins. Instead, the tannins can take center stage rendering the turkey and stuffing as bland as opposed to full of flavor.  So while just about any wine will work, here are some options that may complement your meal better than others.

The classic white wine pairing with turkey is Riesling. The low alcohol and high acid can be a refreshing complement to the inherent richness of the meal. I prefer to stick with the drier style (Kabinett) as opposed to those that have a sweeter profile (Spatlese). The Willim Alsace Riesling is one of my favorite options for around $15 and for a real value the Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling is consistently solid and goes for under $10 at most retailers.

If you like your whites a little bigger and bolder then a buttery, oaky Chardonnay or Burgundy may be the way to go. Although be careful of the super oaked options, as those woody tannins can stifle the richness of the bird. My favorites from CA right now are from Gary Farrell and Stonestreet (both around $30-35), but I’ve been on a real Chablis kick these days. The searing acidity on those wines will certainly complement your properly roasted bird. On the value side try the Joel Gott Chard from CA or the Fox Run from the Finger Lakes. Both are unoaked clean, vibrant and delightfully refreshing options for around $15.

Traditionally the most commonly recommended red wines to pair with turkey are Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Rhone Blends. Pinot is arguably the best option as the higher acid levels, vibrant fruit and peppery spice really bring out the best in just about any poultry dish. The problem in my family is that no one drinks Pinot. Almost everyone at that table prefers their wines big and opulent and tend to reach for a massive Napa Cab over an elegant red Burgundy. But I plan to enjoy my deep fried turkey with a healthy glass or two of the Davis Bynum 2014 RRV Pinot, even if I’m the only one at the table that does.

So the pairing that usually works best for my crew is a hearty Cali Zinfandel or Red Blend.  They tend to have loads of big, dark and spicy fruit but a little lighter body and softer tannins than Cab. Seghesio produces high quality Zins across their entire portfolio, and if you want to go for a mouth filling red blend than grab The Prisoner, as that is always a crowd pleaser.  This year I’m going with the Method North Coast Proprietary Red. This hearty blend of Syrah, Zin and Petite Sirah is balanced and layered with flavors of red and black cherry, blueberry, vanilla, ground espresso and brown sugar… a perfect partner for your perfectly prepared Thanksgiving bird.

Wines from Southern Rhone typically consist of Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre with Grenache usually taking center stage. Grenache leans on the lighter side in terms of body with good acid, spicy berry fruit and plush tannins. Blend in some meaty Syrah and a dollup of dark Mouvedre and you have an ideal blend for your Thanksgiving table. Cotes du Rhone Villages wines offer a step up in quality (usually) over a standard Cotes du Rhone, and still can be found for less than $20.  However they have a hard time standing up to those bigger and more complex Chateauneuf du Pape and Gigondas wines, which is why those are just about impossible to find for under $40. Some value producers include Barville, Santa Duc, Chapoutier and Louis Bernard. But if you are from the ‘Go Big or Go Home’ mentality then you can’t go wrong with any of the big dogs such as Domaine de Pegau, Vieux Telegraphe, Chateau de Beaucastel or Saint Cosme. Just be sure to give those bigger wines some oxygen before you start digging into them, or they may come off a little tight and inexpressive.