Say Hello to Summer With a Red Wine Riot

Don't switch to white wine for summer! These red are perfect for grilling
Cellar Tracker

Warm and generous with dark cherry flavors, the wine is fruit-forward for a Rioja but has good balance and a lean finish.

Don’t feel that you have to give up red wine now that winter has — finally — gone.  There is still plenty of red meat to be grilled and pasta to be enjoyed with spicy sausages.

Here is an excellent collection of 12 winesto enjoy from some of the world’s best red-wine countries – Italy, Australia, Chile, Argentina and, of course, the United States, amnd many of them are great bargains. (We’ll return to France at another time.)

2012 Emiliana Valle de Rapel “Natura” cabernet sauvignon ($10). A spicy combination of blackberry, black raspberry and mulberry flavors, this wine is made with organic grapes and has a lot of savory notes, dusty tannins and hints of sweet chocolate in the finish. Very nice.

2011 Montes “Outer Limits” Apalta CGM ($44). That’s carignan (50%), grenache ($30%) and mourvedre (20%), a classic southern Rhone/Languedoc blend from Chile. It is a delicious wine that rides the border between simply being fruit-forward and needlessly jammy. It has lots of dark raspberry fruit, some savory qualities, good tannins and hints of chocolate. If I had a case, I would keep it for a few years before opening bottles.

2012 Trapiche “Oak Cask” Mendoza malbec ($10). Pleasant drinking, with lots of fresh berry fruit and an under layer of forest-floor savoriness with light tannins.

2010 Garofoli “Piancarlo” rosso Conero ($13) From Italy’s Marche region and made from montepulciano grapes, this wine is ripe and rich with dark fruits, a creamy texture and a granular, tannic finish. A very good buy.

2011 Aia Vecchia “Lagone” Toscana IGT ($15). My Pick of the Litter. A blend of cabernet, merlot and sangiovese, it has creamy cherry fruit, good texture, some chalky notes and mild tannins – very nice, affordable drinking.

2011 Aia Vecchia Bolgheri “Sor Ugo” Bolgheri superior ($35). A lean, cab-merlot blend with good cherry fruit, it could show a bit more structure and complexity.

2009 Terlato & Chapoutier L-Block Pyrenees shiraz ($45). From an exciting joint venture, this Australian shiraz is lean, earthy, smoky with also quite fruity – cassis and dark raspberry. What else would you expect from a Chapoutier?

2011 Terlato & Chapoutier “Malakoff” Pyrenees shiraz ($37). Similar to the previous wine in structure, it has ripe cherry flavors, mild tannins and good acidity.

2011 Paul Hobbs Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon ($94). Hobbs loves fresh oak on his wines, and it shows here, as we are greeted with big oak aromas and flavors when the cork is pulled. But if you decant (or wait a few years), the oak becomes less dominant and the delicious, spicy, blackberry fruit rises on the palate.  A keeper for those of you with cellars.

2012 Mandolin Central Coast cabernet sauvignon ($12). A colleague of mine recently said at a joint tasting that California has difficulty in making affordable reds under $20 a bottle. This wine refutes him. It has creamy cherry flavors, good balance and moderate, pleasant tannins.

2012 Mandolin Central Coast syrah ($12). It shows the fruitier, not earthier, side of the grape, but nevertheless has well-balanced black raspberry flavors and would pair well with fruit-glazed grilled meats.

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2010 Cune Rioja crianza ($12). Warm and generous with dark cherry flavors, the wine is fruit-forward for a Rioja but has good balance and a lean finish.