Round 3 of the summer series focusing on barbecue wines, and in this corner the robust reds—maybe even some that cross over to the raunchy side of the ring. Common components: hearty, big, and bold, with lots of full-frontal flavour, a bit of edge, some spice, good fruit, and most importantly good value, with nothing over $20.
Cut ’em with ice and soda, berries and herbs, a goodly glug of vodka or something sweet, and get set to match them with your favourite (mainly meat) barbecue experiments. Gallo served us well when we surveyed whites at the start of this series; here they are again leading off this line.
Gallo Family Pinot Noir 2008 ($8.99)
A new-to-us middleweight Pinot, fresh and fruity. Give it a short chill and let it do its thing with lamb and salmon, grilled vegetables and fruit kebabs. Price is everything.
Gallo Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($8.99)
A general listing means it’s widely available at most LDB stores. Again, good fruit, a little bite to keep the burnt bits in check, hearty for ribs and burgers. In the USA section, of course.
Now we take a four-buck leap and carry on with the rest of the wine world, starting with South Africa.
Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($12.99)
Meaty, beefy, big, and brash, there’s some dark-roast coffee in the aroma, big acidity out back, and an easy way with some of the burnt offerings that stymie even those of us who keep a constant eye on the clock.
Graham Beck Shiraz Viognier 2007 ($14.99)
This South African winery is distinguishing itself as a good-value leader with everything it’s sent us. This mostly Shiraz (90 percent) blended with a little Viognier is no exception: soft, fresh, and delicious, round and hearty, with an intriguing hint of violets in the back. One of the best on the table today. If only it could cost $11”¦
Emiliana Adobe Organic Carmenere 2009 ($14.99)
And still they keep on coming: new organics from all corners”¦ This is a fine cheese-and-fresh-grapes-after-the-meal wine (you can skip the sweet dessert); it’s very big, even a little bit hard on the back palate. Also fine for a dish of stifado or other spicy-sweet meat-based casseroles.
Columbia Crest 2 Vines Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($14.99)
Fifteen bucks seems to be the place where most of these congregate. Though just a little long in the tooth, this Washington wine is drinking well: it has been imbued with “toasty vanilla”¦woven throughout its rich black cherry core”, says the back-label journo. It is a textbook-good barbecue wine: big and fruity and nicely sweet in the finish. But drink up—it probably won’t last past Christmas.
Villa Borghetti Pasqua Metodo Passimento Rosso Veneto 2007 ($14.99)
This is a blend of two Veronese varieties, Corvina and Croatina, as well as Merlot (which the Italians rhyme with pot). Passimento refers to a process of partially drying the grapes before fermentation. Hence, the wine is very rich and raisiny and mellow, and a total treat. Blue cheeses and ripe red grapes are best.
De Angelis Rosso Piceno 2008 ($14.99)
A well-established Vancouver favourite, this vintage may be the best yet for this mellow Italian. It’s deep, most agreeably on the sweetish side, best for pasta and hot Italian sausage, prosciutto, and Parmesan with frantoio olive oil. You gotta love big cherry-juice flavours, though.
Calvet Reserve Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 ($15.99)
Big licorice aromas and initial palate hits give way to round red fruit, good weight, and balance. After a few minutes in the glass, all the edges smooth out and it’s ready to welcome roast chicken or David Veljacic’s perennial party hit Flank Steak Salad.
VOGA Quattro 2008 ($15.99)
The distinctive Italian bottle that first brought us the same label’s Pinot Grigio finally gets a big brother with this mix of Merlot, Cabernet, Shiraz, and Pinot Noir. The big plastic cap over the cork may be environmentally suspect but it caps off a full, ultra-bright dinner red.
Delas Cotes du Ventoux 2007 ($17.99)
Pricewise, this is starting to edge into Sunday-roast territory, but it rewards by presenting one of the best-balanced of the minor cí´tes, with elegant ripe fruit and a long, crisp finish. And yes, it does do justice to the Sunday roast, especially if there’s Yorkshire pudding.
Yellow Tail Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($19.90)
Proving the old Gallo Brothers adage that “you don’t have to be small to be good”, the Australian giant sends us a fine, rich red, especially splendid with stinky cheese and Stoned Wheat Thins (which are still the best cheese crackers when you’re planning to make a meal of cheese and wine; never mind your $10 artisan imports, here’s where you want to be, at the supermarket!). A little oak, a lot of black cherry. The label: “Pairs well with the guys’ night out.” Don’t let that put you off—it has a lot more finesse than that.
Herder Meritage 2008 ($19.90)
But the cup for finesse this week goes to the Similkameen Valley. This is the best-value B.C. Meritage on the market today. It’s mostly Merlot, plus the Cabernet brothers, Franc and Sauvignon, as well as Malbec and Petit Verdot. A true Meritage at a fraction of what most producers charge. Soft and round and very, very mellow. Sip it slowly, like a vin santo, and end your evening with it, watching the sunset. Hardest to find; try the winery in Keremeos.