What is complex enough to hold my interest but light enough to feel refreshing? So in the midst of the heatwave and for the love of red wine, here are my top 5 recommendations for red wines this summer.
Its August long weekend and the height of summer. Most of the Northern Hemisphere is locked in a heatwave. Its also time for lakes, pools, barbeques and other summer activities. Beer is prevalent at these places as is sangria, white and rose wines, and cocktails. Well what about the red wine? If you are like @benton8tor, hot days do not automatically mean red wine. In fact when I told him I was writing this blog, he looked at me thoughtfully while he sipped his rather revolting beer and asked “why?”
Why? Because there are millions (no I am not exaggerating) of people who love red wine in the heat and the cold, in the sun and the rain, day and night, I could go on. But I understand where he is coming from, big bold reds on a summer day somehow seem wrong. Even light reds meant to be drunk with cheese or ‘ en primeur’ (ready to drink) are not always right for summer. What is complex enough to hold my interest but light enough to feel refreshing? So in the midst of the heatwave and for the love of red wine, here are my top 5 recommendations for red wines this summer.
- Bertolani Rosso Secco Lambrusco Reggiano. In what I long believed to be an urban myth, or some sort of wine experiment gone terribly wrong, I had been searching for a sparking red. Mostly for curiosity’s sake. Well sparkling red does exist. This past Friday night, we decided to hit up Pizzeria Gusto http://www.pizzeriagusto.com/ in Winnipeg for some patio time. It was a hot night and I asked the server for a wine recommendation. She recommended the sparking red from Italy. “its delicious” she said. Privately I had my doubts, but the servers at Gusto are seldom wrong for me, so I decided to give it a shot. Well I am glad I did, It was efferevesant but not cloying, refreshing but still had red wine flavours that somehow just worked. It can be hard to find but well worth it.
Or you could just take a trip to northern Italy. As one does or as one wishes to do.@benton8tor is insistent that I add that he had a exceptional Italian rose, something he believed was a wine myth. We were both proved wrong. http://bertolanialfredo.it/i-nostri-vini/i-rossi/reggiano-secco/
- Sapevari: This wine is from Georgia’s sapevari grape/wine literally translating into dye or paint which makes sense as it is a dark red colour. This wine is dry, easy to drink but extremely unique. Upon first sip, it won’t reveal its character but by 3rd or 4th you will be drawn in. Georgia boasts being the world’s first wine producing region and some winemakers still use some ancient techniques such as fermenting the wine in clay pots in the ground. Croatia also boasts being the first wine producing region but recent anthropological evidence points to Georgia. Georgian Sapervari can be hard to find but request it. It is readily available at Sapervari in Winnipeg https://www.saperavi.ca/ or Gordon’s Wine bar in London which boasts my dream wine list. https://gordonswinebar.com/
- Amigoni Winery in Kansas City. Although Kansas City is not what you think of when you think of wine, maybe it should be. Missouri was the first wine producing region in the US, predating Napa and its wines at Amigoni are amazing. Amigoni grows mainly French grapes east of Kansas City including petit verdot, grenache and cinsaut which produce spicy interesting reds that pair exceptionally well with Kansas City’s famous export, barbeque.
These wines are vastly underrated so please request them or order online. They are also much less sweet than many of their other American counterparts. http://www.amigoni.com/our-wines/
- Lirac. I bet you were wondering when we’d get to France. Well wait no longer. Lirac is on the other side of the river from its more famous cousin, Chatequneuf du Pape. Lirac wines are equally as good (which means they are excellent), also mainly using the GSM blend which has a stronghold in southern Rhone wines and a fraction of the price of the Chateauneuf du papes. Though the popes didn’t drink them, you should. They are enjoyable in any weather with undertones of black fruit and hints of spice. They are affordable so you and your bank account will be happy. Or you could just go to Lirac, you and your soul would be happy, no word on your bank account.
- Beaujolais AOC’s. Beaujolais is known for its Noveau/ en primeurs or its village wines. But I prefer the AOC wines produced in the north. They use Gamay grapes which were outlawed by Philip the Bold in in Bourgogne as that grape was meant ‘for peasants.’ A charmer that Philip the Bold but jokes on him as the Beaujolais producers just to the south of Bourgogne took up the gamay grape and the AOC’s are producing wines that fully express the gamay and its terrior. I am particularly fond of the Chenas that has been described as ‘drinking flowers in a velvet basket.’ The Beaujolais AOC’s are very affordable, have depth and are perfect in summer or winter. They manage to be light and interesting . Louise my fellow wine clubber, has taken to adding the Beaujolais to her wine ap which is quite a feat as she is avowed drinker of Spanish and Portuguese wines.
So pull up to a patio, order a red wine and enjoy the summer.
Georgia is one of the oldest if not the oldest wine producer in the world. Again like Jura it uses more traditional methods such as making the wine in clay pots in the ground.
If you have read my blog before it might be a tiny bit obvious that I have a thing for French wine. You know, just a tiny thing. In fact out for drinks this past Friday night with friends, i was splitting a bottle of wine with some at the table. ” what are we drinking?’ she asked. Before I could answer, my other friend piped up ‘You know its French.’ she was right it was and it was delicious. We all have our wines we love, our go to wines or wine regions, but I also find it is incredibly rewarding to go out of our comfort zone and try new wines, wines we aren’t sure if we’d like, from a country that makes us say ‘really they make wine?’ or simply something you haven’t tried before. Sure there is a chance you won’t like it but what if you love it? There are so many under the radar, under valued, undiscovered wines out there. Here are my top 5 picks for the must trys
- Vin de cuit- Provence. i know I know, we are still in France. But this sweet wine produced in Provence has grape must cooked over an open fire for 10 hours. It is traditionally served at Christmas with the 13 desserts. Here is the thing, sweet wine, especially in North America has had a bad reputation. Due in large part to the culture of the late 80s and early 90s that had heavy emphasis on wine coolers, bad and I do mean bad sweet sparking wines, sweet red wines that tasted like cough syrup mixed with sugar (double shudder) and the worst offender….white Zinfandel , a wine so ridiculously sweet and disgusting it almost ruined Zinfandel grapes and rose for me. Luckily for me I like roses (thanks to Provence and 2benton8tor) and Zinfandel now but i almost didn’t try them. Sweet wines are the same. Whether it is port, sherry, or the sweet sauternes of Bordeaux, sweet wines have an undeserved bad rap. Good sweet wines are meant to be drunk after a meal with dessert or cheese. Yes they are sweet often with flavours of honey, prunes, plums ect but they are nuanced, they can have high acid to offset the sweet and are flavourful complex wines to be enjoyed. Vin de Cuit is no different. Try it as soon as you can.
- Sparking Wines from England. What you are probably asking? and yes yes yes I say. England does a have a small wine industry. In fact in Kent, the chalky soils and cliffs share the same soil as the famed Champagne region.Albeit a distinctly different climate. England is starting to produce some very interesting sparking wines. Not overly expensive but they can be hard to find. But definitely worth it.
- Green Wine from Portugal. Before leaving this year to go to Portugal, I was hearing a lot about Green wine. I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t do to much (read any ) research into what it actually is. I am even more embarrassed to admit I thought it was wine with a greenish tinge. Well it is not. Green Wine is in fact more commonly known as Vinho Verde is a DOC wine region f Northern Portugal. it is usually slightly sparking due to malolactic fermentation that happened accidentally in the bottle in early years of production, consumers liked it so it stayed although the effervescence is produced differently today. Not all Vinho Verde is slightly sparking, it can be still, white, red, or rose. I have tasted both still and sparking. Both were good but I prefer the sparking, paired with a bifana YUM!! It is an easy to drink wine, light in the glass and on the palate with slightly fruity notes, an excellent summer wine. Next time I will try the red Vinho Verde rumored to be dark and peppery.
- The Jura wine region. Yes another French wine region but with excellent reason. Jura borders both Burgundy and Switzerland. A fairy small wine producing region but one of the most interesting. Jura is at the forefront of ‘natural wine production. really meaning they have kept the tradtional methods. All Jura still wines should be decanted for at least 4 hours before consuming. These wines are complex. The red and and whites age for a considerable time in oak with controlled oxidation, giving the wine interesting and unexpected flavours as in the case of whites, strong almond flavour. But Jura has 3 wine stars: -Vin Jaune literally translating to yellow win. This wine ages in oak barrels under yeast with controlled oxidation for 6 years. It has interesting nutty flavours. -Macvin du Jura a sweet fortified spicy wine ages 14 months in the barrel. -Vin de paille or straw wine. grapes are dried on straw allowing the grapes to almost dry, once pressed the flavours are concentrated producing a unique sweet wine. Jura also happens to be incredibly beautiful so….
5. Georgia, the republic not the state. Though there are arguments over where grape vines and viticulture began (was it Croatia? Was it Georgia?) Georgia is one of the oldest if not the oldest wine producer in the world. Again like Jura it uses more traditional methods such as making the wine in clay pots in the ground. Georgian wine can be hard but worth it. The wines have a different mouth feel and flavor on the palate most likely due to the clay pots and grape varieties but they are easy to drink and even easier to enjoy. Georgia like Jura is stunningly beautiful so maybe a wine vacation is in order.
Honorable mentions should go to : Croatia also a wine originator and produces some very good wines, Bulgaria and Uruguay both producers of some very interesting wines. Also Romania Lebanon, China, and India are worth a try. Where do you get these wines? Well if in London, try Gordon’s wine bar, one of the best stocked wine bars , I have ever visited. https://gordonswinebar.com/ Wine Quay in Porto Portugal is another option with excellent wine selection and knowledgeable servers. .http://www.winequaybar.com/ But do your research on wine bars, wine stores and tastings. Most importantly don’t be afraid to ask.