Grilling season calls for hearty wines

May 18, 2020

“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble. Cool it with a baboon's blood, Then the charm is firm and good.” Old Will Shakespeare would have been proud watching our modern-day witch doctors, pols and newscasters bloviating about COVID-19. The only thing apparent is that “Half know little and the other half ain’t sure.” I think most of us would feel a whole lot better if more of these folks would admit they are completely unsure, need more time and are working on it. I believe many are concerned due to absolutely lousy modeling releases on inception and lack of preparedness due to supply chain problems. I wonder how many of those who ran out of TP and all other paper goods are now up for clear-cutting the forests. (New readers, that was tongue in cheek.)

Love to read comments from any Wimpys (actual name J. Wellington Wimpy) who think all the Monopoly money D.C. is tossing around won’t come back to haunt us big time. If you’re bored, check out some old E.C. Segar clips originally named Thimble Theatre. Few moderns realize he was a political cartoonist during the height of the Depression. The cartoons, done by Fleischer Studios, dumbed Segar’s work down claiming they were “too intellectual.” I report, you decide. As Mr. Eye often intoned, “I’ll takes yuz all on, one at a time.”

Hooray, it’s May! Outdoor cooking starts today. Driscoll Wine Co. Tilth Red Zin 2016 rates a solid 92 points McD. There is nothing that beats a big, juicy bison burger charbroiled over well-soaked wood chips. Don’t tell your dietician. I tried a couple of those no-meat burgers. Although they are quite good, they’re definitely not burgers, and broiling with smoke doesn’t work for me. Tilth shows up with lovely black cherry and oak spice aromas. On the palate more cherries, some espresso and barrel-driven vanilla derived from 10 months on new French oak, riding a nicely balanced, full mouthfeel Zinfandel. The long finish repeats these flavors. Drinking well now through next three years, and best of all it can be found around $20. Took Silver at Texsom Int’l Wine Awards in 2016. Their upscale label is Cherryhouse Vineyard, around $35.

Those who remember Cali Gamay may wish to search out Tilth Al Frediani Vineyard Valdiguie from Calistoga, Napa. Formerly known as Napa Gamay until 1980, when it genetically tested as Valdiguie, the label persisted until 1999. At this point the name was mandated by law to change. I only mention Valdiguie in passing because Tilth is one of very few vineyards that still produce it, 88 McD around $30 for the 2016. Best of the producers in 2016 was Wilson Foreigner Rancho Chimiles Valdiguie, Napa, $30, 92 McD.

This Don Kavanagh column is a worthy read for those curious about extremely high-priced Napa Cabs: Kavanagh writes an informative hand. Please read entire paper first, ads and all. Who knows, there may actually be a job out there looking for you.

Keep your eyes peeled for Ron Rubin’s River Road new releases. My friends at Creative Palate arranged a sampling of their Unoaked Chard 2019, $15, 87 McD, which reminds of Sauvignon Blanc; and the Russian River Valley Chardonnay Reserve 2018, $18, 88 McD plus 1 price point, complex nose with apple, lemon peel, quince and hint of oak. River Road Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2018 is $25. I have seen ads for $200/case. Decent Cab at this price is tough to locate. Those who enjoy medium-body, ready-to-drink Cab should place it on their list. Look for blackberry and cedar nose with a bit of pie spice. Medium body, slightly elevated tannins with appropriate acidity support, 87 McD, a decent everyday Cab that won’t break the bank. Finally, River Road Stephanie’s Cuvee Pinot Noir, RRV, 2017, $30, 88 McD points, shows a mixed bouquet of cherry and currant with highlights of pie spice and vanilla, riding a balanced tannin/acidity frame. Long, smooth, puckery finish. Best to all for good health and some resolution to your shut-in blues. 

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