Big, heavy reds aren’t de rigueur at a barbie, you know – after all, what if you’re having a fish- or veg-based one?
Fri 1 Jul 2011 22.59 BSTFirst published on Fri 1 Jul 2011 22.59 BST
Malbrontes, wine 2 July 2011
Malbrontes, wine 2 July 2011 Photograph: Full
Judging by the torrent of barbecue-related bumf I’ve been getting from wine retailers, July marks the official start of the barbie season. And for wine hacks that usually means the obligatory article on California wine. But I’ve never been convinced that Echo Falls, pricey cabernets or killer, 14.5%-plus zinfandels are the way to go. For a start, it assumes that all barbecues are meat fests, and it’s perfectly possible you want one based on fish or veg.
What I fancy at a barbecue are fresh young wines with bright fruit flavours and perhaps a touch of sweetness, but not too much extract or oak ageing. Chilean and Argentine reds rock my boat more than their counterparts up the Pacific coast and are generally a fair bit cheaper.
One of my top finds this summer has been the 2009 Malbrontes Bodegas Mauricio Lorca (13.5% abv), an unlikely blend of malbec and torrontes whose name sounds more like a footballer than a wine. Surprisingly, it comes from posh London wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd, who sell it at the very reasonable price of £8.45 (or £7.60 if you buy an unsplit case). It’s full of gorgeous, ripe fruit, with the torrontes adding just a hint of floral fragrance. (The same producer’s Fantasia Torrontes 2010, 14% abv, is delicious, too, though at £10 not quite such a bargain.)
Boisson Rouge, wine 2 july 2011
Boisson Rouge, wine 2 july 2011 Photograph: Full
In the same exuberantly fruity vein are the Santa Rita 120 Carmenère 2010 (normally £6.99, but on offer at £4.99 at the Co-op and £5.49 at Majestic; 13.5% abv) and Los Nucos Carmenère Shiraz 2010 (£5.99, Marks & Spencer; 13.5% abv), two well-priced Chilean reds that stay the right side of jammy – particularly if you give them half an hour in the fridge before serving.
For fish or veg-centred barbecues, I prefer zippy whites. Sauvignon blanc would obviously tick that box, but if you’re suffering from sauvignon fatigue, try the more restrained yet still appealingly crisp and citrussy Vignobles des Aubas Colombard Gros Manseng Côtes du Gascogne 2010 (£6.99, Majestic, or £5.99 if you buy two or more; and it’s only 12% abv).
Or if you like red with fish, try Emile Heredia’s Domaine de Montrieux’s Boisson Rouge 2010 (£13.99, Les Caves de Pyrène; 12% abv), a gently fizzy, gamay-based red made without chemicals or artificial yeasts – what the natural wine fraternity calls a “pet nat” (short for pétillant naturel, aka naturally fermented wine). It’s a joyous, exuberant red that would make perfect summer drinking, with or without a grill.
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