Now is the time to enjoy those crisp, cool, refreshing white wines that will bring down the temperature on a warm summer day. With summer in full swing, riesling, gruner veltliner, sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, albarino and the like are enjoying peak demand and flying off the shelves. And that begs the question: Is there any room for red wine at your picnic table?
The answer, of course, is yes. The secret to red wine in summer is the chill. Forget everything you've ever heard about serving red wine at room temperature. Room temperature on a hot summer day can be anywhere from 80 degrees to well above 100.
If you've ever sipped a young cabernet sauvignon at 80-plus degrees, it was probably an experience you will never forget. There is no rule that says you can't throw the bottle in an ice bucket for 20 minutes. The difference between a warm red wine and a red wine with a slight chill is remarkable. For one thing, the heavier reds with more tannin seem heavier and more tannic when served warm.
Even lighter reds, such as Beaujolais or pinot noir, seem to lose their fruit when served warm. With a slight chill, these wines will brighten up and become downright crisp and fruity.
So, cheer up, red-wine lovers. There's no need to serve a pinot grigio with your ribeye hot off the grill. Make an ice bucket your best friend this summer and I promise you will thank me!
Wines are rated on a 100-point scale. Wines are chosen for review because they represent outstanding quality or value, and the scores are simply a measure of this reviewer's enthusiasm for the recommended wine.
Morgan 2017 Cotes du Crow's, Monterey ($20) — This easy-drinking red blend from Morgan has been a consistent winner since its inception, and the 2017 follows in those impressive footsteps. Though traditionally a Rhone-style blend, the 2017 comes with a twist. Tempranillo, the money grape of Spain, has been added to the more traditional grenache-syrah cuvee. The result is a beautiful expression of red-fruit character with a charming spice note and soft tannins. Bravo! Rating: 90.
Duckhorn 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley ($30) — Among the many things the Duckhorn team excels at, its sauvignon blanc is one of my longtime favorites. It's one of the most complex sauvignons made in the Napa Valley, and this vintage is no exception. Showing scents of grapefruit and white peach, it is exquisitely balanced and has impressive length on the palate. Rating: 95.
Paraduxx 2015 Red Wine, Rector Creek Vineyard, Napa Valley ($82) — Paraduxx built its reputation on zinfandel-centric blends, and the Rector Creek is one of its finest. The 2015 vintage is elegant and complex, exhibiting layers of black and red fruits; a hint of cedar and graphite; and just the right touch of wood spice. Rating: 95.
Paraduxx 2015 Red Wine, Howell Mountain ($82) — This Aussie-style red blend of cabernet sauvignon and syrah has California written all over it, specifically the Napa Valley's Howell Mountain. It's sheer power, with bold, layered blackberry and blueberry flavors, generous spice notes and firm, mountain tannins. It would be a shame to drink too soon. It's best after another five to seven years in a cool cellar. Rating: 94.
Migration 2016 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills ($70) — Showing layered dark fruits and a seductive note of wood spice, the Migration from the cool part of Santa Barbara County is another feather in the Migration cap. Earthy and rich, with beautifully integrated tannins, it is ready for immediate consumption but certainly has every right to hold nicely with another three to five years in the cellar. Rating: 91.
Two Angels 2016 Petite Sirah, Red Hills, Lake County ($26.99) — Winemaker Bob Pepi has a long string of successful vintages with this wine, and the 2016 is another beauty. Darkly colored, floral and spicy, with aromas of red currant, plum, blackberry and violets, the wine is suave and rich with impressive depth, another triumph for Pepi. Rating: 93.
Bianchi 2014 Malbec 'Particular,' Argentina ($30.99) — At five years of age, the Particular malbec from Bianchi is just beginning to hit its stride, showing complex aromas of blackberry, plum, cherry and wood spice; beautifully integrated tannins; excellent balance; and impressive length. Rating: 90.
Follow Robert on Twitter at @wineguru. To find out more about Robert Whitley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com. Email Robert at [email protected]
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