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Wines to Grill and Chill With PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bill Citara - BT Contributor   
July 2012

RED, WHITE, AND YOU: AGREEABLE WINE FOR $12 OR LESS

Vino_3Yes, it’s that time of year again. Time for the ritual Charring of the Flesh, the American male’s annual rite of passage from indolent, red-blooded sofa tuber to Lord and Master of the Backyard Incinerator, Desiccator of Innocent Animal Protein, Consumer of Multiple Chilled Adult Beverages, Igniter of Noisy Combustible Devices Known to Annoy Neighbors and Frighten Dogs and Small Children.

In other words, it’s time for Dad to kick off the summer season by firing up the grill for the Fourth of July barbecue. But it doesn’t sound quite so grand when you put it that way, does it?

Whatever your skill at the grill (or lack of same), whether your patriotic repast more resembles charcoal chicken sushi than dinner at Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City, it’s likely your first choice for an appropriate chilled adult beverage is that four-letter word beginning with “b.” And though your average, mass-produced corporate behemoth American beer is better suited to putting out grease fires than, you know, drinking, there are some pretty fine beers out there.

But let us instead consider wine. It not only tastes great and is less filling, but it goes with just about any food. It also allows you to save any beer you might have lurking around in the fridge for dousing your five-alarm napalm burgers before the fire department arrives.

A fine example is one of my new favorite wines, the 2010 Kendall-Jackson Summation. Mostly Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, and Pinot Blanc, it’s damn near the perfect summertime white. It’s got a lovely nose of tropical fruit, honeysuckle, and melon aromas, with a palate to match, plus a little orange, peach, lime, and spice. Full body, creamy texture, lingering finish -- what’s not to like?

A little more acid, a little less fruit, but still tons of flavor is the deal with the 2010 A to Z Oregon Pinot Gris. Take one whiff and you get the idea -- there’s some mango and pear in there, some honey, lemon-lime, a bracing shot of minerality. It’s still young and taut, with a tangy grapefruit finish, but between nose and back palate, you get all that rich, tropical melon and citrus fruit.

Provence is to rosé what the Napa Valley is to Cabernet Sauvignon, so no big surprise that the Domaine de Paris 2010 Côtes de Provence Rosé is as natural a partner to grilling as quality hardwood charcoal. A pretty reddish-gold in the glass, it smells of ripe strawberries and fresh oranges -- tastes of them, too -- in a crisp, refreshing, light-bodied package that makes for easy sippin’ by itself or a pleasant companion to grilled fish or chicken.

On the earthier, more rustic side is Marqués de Cáceres 2010 Rioja Rosé. The strawberries and raspberries, tangy lemon, and orange are all in there, but there are also muskier notes of olives and leather. Juicy and earthy, light- to medium-bodied, it splits a few differences.

Now we come to the big boys, the beefy reds that can stand up to meats tricked out with all the smoke, sauce, and char a good grill master can impart. Here’s a tip: Immediately run out and buy the 2010 Tapeña Garnacha. Do that today. It costs all of ten bucks, and you can get it at Publix. With loads of ripe, fresh-tasting red- and black-cherry fruit, a spice cabinet’s worth of aromatic cloves and fennel, a hint of earth, and a dash of minerals, it’s one of the most complex and pleasant inexpensive wines I’ve tasted in a while.

Another run-out-and-buy wine is the Bodegas Salentein’s 2010 Portillo Malbec, from Argentina’s Mendoza wine region. Many Malbecs have a rough, woody edge that I can do without, but this one is smooth and fruity and easy to like. Think blackberry and blueberry fruit, dried figs, anise, and cloves in a big, mouth-filling gulp, yet with enough acidity and soft tannins to keep all that fruit honest.

Finally, if you like old-vine Zinfandels, but don’t like your palate sandblasted with overripe fruit and vodka-style alcohol levels, check out the terrific 2010 Bramblewood Old Vines Zin. A J. Lohr product from Lodi in California’s Central Valley, it delivers bracing aromas of dried fruit and olives and toast and black pepper -- all without that syrupy, port-like texture of many old-vine Zins, and with only 13 percent alcohol.

Now, that’s something even the Lord and Master of the Backyard Incinerator can’t screw up.

 

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