Refreshing Summer Reds
Like revenge – and a summertime gin and tonic – many of the current generation of light fruity reds are best served cold, says Adam Lechmere
One of the great things about the revolution in taste – the shift from big bold reds to light, structured ones – is that there is so much more choice for summer drinking. Remember when you put your bottle of red by the hob the warm before dininer, and chilled whites to tooth aching temperatures? Now many modern reds taste better cool than chambré (room temperature - when did you last hear that?).
Of course, if you’re barbecuing côte de boeuf then your reds need some body, but not necessarily the weight that comes with 16 per cent alcohol. Have a look at Hawke’s Bay syrah below. It’s a pretty big wine with a mighty surge of fruit, but its delicate tannins and fine peppery acidity will go beautifully with juicy red meat.
Northern Spain has long produced fine-structured red wines (such as the Ramon Bilbao below). Mencia is a grape much sought-after by the cognoscenti. It has serious oomph in its homeland of Bierzo in the north- west, but further west, in the rainy highlands of Galicia’s Ribeira Sacra, Adega Algueira vinivivi.co.uk makes a mencia of wonderful restraint and freshness that would be perfect for sweet, fatty barbecued lamb, or a Middle Eastern salad.
While we’re drinking wines that are more classic in profile, we’re also rehabilitating long-scorned styles. Lambrusco, for example, was huge in the 1980s but for the last 30 years has been about as fashionable as the mullet hair-do. Indeed, who would want a sweet, spritzy, low-alcohol Italian red when prosecco and cava are ten a penny? But there are now various producers, mainly in Emilia Romagna, who are putting more care into the making of lambrusco (which can be made from more than a dozen different grapes), eschewing the bulk tank-fermentation method called charmat, and crafting full-bodied, tannic and delicately fruited styles. You need to search them out (some of the supermarket versions can still be horrible, and horribly cheap). The Wine Society’s Vecchio Moro from Rinaldini is excellent, and the Fattoria Moretto below is one of my favourites, with a dry, tannic finish that goes brilliantly with strong-flavoured hams.
A wonderful red grape for summer s cabernet franc. It’s early ripening, briskly acidic, with red, summery fruit (redcurrant, red cherry, raspberry and plum) and often lovely violet perfume. The principal red of the Loire, cab franc is grown all over the world as a blending component for cabernet sauvignon, but as a single-varietal wine it can be mouth wateringly juicy.
Outside of the Loire (try Waitrose’s Domaine de la Croix de Chaintres as well as the Nivières below) it’s still hard to find pure cab franc, but it is being planted more and more, especially in the New World. One of my favourites comes from Chile’s Garage Wine Co. It’s a marvel of precision and restraint.
Lastly, beaujolais, the quintessential red for a summer’s day. This lovely region has been decimated by the abysmal Nouveau, thankfully almost extinct in the west, and lovers of the gamay grape can now find proper, mature beaujolais from villages such as Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent, Chiroubles and Morgon. A fail-safe producer is Georges Duboeuf: try the fleurie 2014 from Majestic, chilled with a cold veal pie. The perfect picnic.
Mission Estate Hawke's Bay Syrah 2014, £10.95
Blackberry aromas leap out of the glass, then juicy, herbaceous palate, peppery acidity and fine tannic grip. A perfect match for some barbecued côte de bouef.
Available at:Wine Society
Fattoria Moretto Monovitigno Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, £16.95
Sweet bright black cherry fruit then a dense mid- palate with blueberries and zingy acidity. Dry finish, ideal for charcuterie.
Available at:The Italian Wine Women
Ramon Bilbao Single Vineyard Rioja 2014, £9.49
Lifted, perfumed red fruit, soft tannins and lovely acidity splashed with juice. Long and refreshing. Complements Middle Eastern flavours such as a lamb tagine.
Les Nivières Cabernet Franc, Saumur, France 2014, £8.99
Lean in structure with fine-grained tannins, flavours of blackcurrant- on-the-bush, and great acidity. Try with a creamy meat-based Thai curry.
Taste the Difference Beaujolais-Villages 2014, £7
What a charming wine for the price. Bright raspberry fruit, soft and sweet mid-palate, nice tannic food-friendly finish. Goes well with pies, pâtés, or some meaty pasta.