Refreshing summer reds are great for barbecue season

Enjoy a refreshing summer red at your next barbecue. SOURCE METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION
April 23, 2012

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the number of emails that followed the article concerning some of the iconic women in wine. Although lovely ladies occasionally stop me to chat about wine, I was unaware how many read this column. Just wanted to thank those who took time out to chat or to email.

The 2009 Quivira Vineyards Grenache Rosé Wine Creek Ranch Dry Creek Valley is the first summer red I am recommending. Dark reddish color, with a bouquet redolent of raspberry, mocha, anise and wood smoke aromas, it opens to red berries, herbs and roses on the palate. Finishes fruit-sweet, with soft tannins and proper acid. The flavors reverberate through a fairly lengthy finish; 89 points. Buy at $210/case.

Seek out Artezin Mendocino Zinfandel 2010 from Hess Collection; WS 90 points. I found it recently for $15. You should get a case break; it will cellar at least five years. Dark cherry, licorice and spice aromas, opens on the palate to plum, anise and sage riding on extracted sweet tannins and a proper acid balance that is sufficient to carry the flavors through a long, clean finish. A wonderful barbecue wine Dan and I enjoyed with some of Chip Hearn’s Inglesby Farms Mesquite Barbecue sauce, and it was yummy. Always easy to find tasty treats at Peppers.

David Ramey, a winemaker who usually makes me smile no matter the varietal type, blends a wonderful Syrah from grapes grown in southern Sonoma at Rodgers Vineyard. Most readers know David for Pedregal and his pricey hot Chardonnays such as Hyde, Hudson and Ritchie. The guy is a talented winemaker. Ramey ranges far and wide to find juice and I think of him more as a wine chef. Grape type doesn’t seem to faze his ability. At a vertical tasting, I had the chance to sample Ramey Wine Cellars Syrah Rodgers Creek Vineyard Sonoma Coast 2005-08. Each was a star. Ramey’s Napa Valley Cab 2008 is also exceptional; 95 points. Bordeaux profile of fruit, cassis, grilled herbs, tobacco and cedar supported by firm tannins and proper balance; starts drinking 2014.

Due to the ratings on the Rodgers Creek, they are pricey. Nevertheless they are a bargain, buyable around $50. I would love to see those who can manage it grab up a split case of three of each vintage, with three friends if necessary. At the very least, try to grab some of the 2007 and 2008. Most reputable writers rate all four vintages north of 92 points. The '08 has the distinction of being given a 94 by both RP (“Explodes onto the palate with cured meats, bacon fat, smoke, tar and wild cherries. A classic, cold-climate Syrah profile”) and Stephen Tanzer (“Glass-staining purple. Highly complex nose and palate feature black and blue fruits, spice cake, floral oil and smoky minerals. Shows seductive sweetness, excellent depth and a pliant, seamless texture. Fine-grained tannins shape the extremely long, spicy finish. This wine's intensity and focus are outstanding.”) Keep in mind, both are describing the 2008 Syrah.

I am not belittling either. They are recognized experts. Nevertheless, it should be obvious to careful readers, their palates appreciate or discern a somewhat different profile. I’m trying to illustrate that, in the final analysis, it is your palate that counts. If you try several selections recommended by a writer and they are not to your liking or you disagree with his findings, find a new guru. An advantage to reading reviews is that many critics have far more opportunity to sample wine than most consumers, and they may alert you to a sale or two.

Science tells us there are five fairly clear demarcations in palate sensitivity. People fall into one of those groups, most of the time. The same studies clearly indicate individual taste changes with mental state and body chemistry as well. What distinguishes an “expert” is the ability to discern and describe without regard to these changing parameters. I was taught that when examining wine, it is preferable to sample at least two wines previously examined over a long period, prior to tasting. A preferred sample would be an NV sparkler or a house wine made by a wine chef who has been successful, through blending, at producing the same profile, regardless of vintage. This exercise allows us to establish a base reference for that day.

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