Sun 3 Jun 2007
We’ve left Memorial Day behind and the Fourth of July looms ahead. Surely this month marks one of the most active grilling periods of the year. Whether its hamburgers or steaks, lamb chops (pictured here) or pork chops or the humble yet essential hot dog, red meat grilled outdoors over glowing coals requires red wine to go with it. And while it’s tempting sometimes to pull out a Big Gun of a wine — and I have succumbed to that temptation on many occasions — usually it’s best, most appropriate and most satisfying to serve a simple quaffer of a wine, something delicious and robust that we don’t have to worry our pretty little heads about.
So, here are notices about five of those wines. More complete reviews (and a couple of quaffable whites) are at koeppelonwine.com/Refrigerator_Door_Wines.asp.
1. Oak Grove Reserve Wines Petite Sirah 2005, California. Boldly-flavored with black fruit, hearty, full-bodied and spicy. About $8 or $9.
2. Red Truck Red Wine 2005, California. Syrah, petite syrah, cabernet franc with dollops of mourvedre, grenache and merlot. A smorgasbord of grapes, yes, but a fruitful combination that’s ripe, fleshy, berry-like with well-shaped details. About $10
3. Castello di Gabbiano Chianti 2005, Tuscany. 90% sangiovese with touches of canaiolo and colorino. Simple, direct, lively, tasty and an enviably pure and spicy expression of the sangiovese grape. Good with grilled meats of course but also with pizza and red sauce pastas that need an acidic wine to balance the tomatoes. About $10.
4. Robert Mondavi Private Selection Vinette 2005, California. I’ve never been a fan of Mondavi’s “Private Selection” line, but this blend of the five grapes that may go into red Bordeaux wines is an instant classic, a “little wine” with a big heart and an amazing bargain for the price, about $11. This has the tannic structure to take steak or leg of lamb.
5. Hey Mambo Sultry Red 2005, California. Another fruit-basket turn-over of red grapes, Hey Mambo seems to draw from Italian and southern French traditions for its lively and straightforward personality, its ripe dark berry flavors and plush texture and its shameless accessibility. This is from the madcaps at Don Sebastiani and Sons. About $12.
I will, by the way, be grilling pork chops tonight. What will we drink? Ah, now you’ve caught Mr. Glib in the act. I’m going to open Martini di Cigala’s San Giusto a Rentennano “La Ricolma” Merlot di Toscana 2003. Why? Because it’s there.