We at Winetime certainly hope you are enjoying your wines of Summer; your various whites, fabulous roses and even those wonderful reds. In Parts 1 & 2 of our Summer Red series, we looked at the virtues of the Gamay and Pinot Noir grapes for Summer sipping. We now conclude with some grape varietals not many readers may be familiar with or have purchased for their wine drinking portfolio, but should definitely be on your radar.
First on our list, we go to beautiful Piedmont, located in the Northwest region of Italy. This area is well known for their long lived and even higher priced Barbaresco and Barolo wines, made from the Nebbiolo grape. In its shadow, 2 varietals may be lesser known yet are no less exciting and flavorful.
The Dolcetto and Barbera varietals feature wines of low alcohol; light acidity and their fresh fruit character are perfect for Summer quaffing. Black cherry and raspberry fruit are its dominate features with licorice and a slight nuttiness rounding out its flavor profile. You may also notice on their label single vineyard and sub-region designations such as Dolcetto or Barbera di’ Asti, di’ Alba or di’ Acqui. Best way to tell the difference between them is to sample any number of bottlings you can find and come to your own conclusion. These are some of the best value per quality wines on the international market.
Moving Westward into France’s Rhone region are the wines known as Cotes du Rhone. These wines are a blend of various grapes throughout the area, mainly dominated by Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre, Cinsault, Carignane and Viognier. Rustic cherry, cassis and red currant fruit melt with a slight earthiness and tobacco notes. Unlike the Chateauneuf du Pape wines that come from the same area and consist of many of the similar grape varietals, Cotes du Rhone tend to be a fraction of the cost.
Lastly, we introduce the grape varietal Cabernet Franc. Unlike its close cousin Cabernet Sauvignon, Franc wines are less bold and tannic, with raspberry, blackberry and black cherry fruit including distinct notes of violets, smoke and fresh brewed espresso. Throughout the world, this is a work horse grape, mainly blended into other Bordeaux style wines, but on its own, it is a ballerina under a star lit sky. You can find extensive examples from many wineries throughout the United States as it is an easy grape to grow in various micro climates. Look to California or your own home state as a starter, or venture to France where the region of Chinon in the Loire Valley produces quality wines at inexpensive price ranges.
Once again, remember our tip of putting a slight chill on these and any other Summer reds we have suggested. This will provide a more enjoyable experience without having your favorite red sit on your palate heavy like a lead balloon.