A midsummer night’s chill red wine

KEW Vineyards, Beamsville, ON

as seen on canada.com

Just about this time last summer I suggested to chill red wines for another hot weekend. The recent moderate weather might be considered just cause to negate such a de facto refrain but look ahead to the weekend. Blue skies and a rising mercury are on the horizon.

My 2012 column worked the chill into rich, warm grapes; Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This summer I’m scaling back the stretch and shock factor and returning to the fricative exercise of nipping but certainly not stifling more classic grapes. Gamay Noir can be so thirst quenching and is a natural fit to combat calefaction, along with Pinot Noir and the great Greek Xinomavro. Just a slight frost mind you, like clipped diction, for warm, not hot weather.

Here are four dream wines to chill on a midsummer night, in revelry and in waning light.

Clockwise from top left: Boutari Naoussa 2008, Evening Land Pinot Noir Spanish Springs Vineyard 2011, Quail’s Gate Pinot Noir 2011, and Domaine Des Houdières Fleurie 2011

The grape: Xinomavro

The history: The Boutari Company was established in 1879 in Naoussa. This was the first bottled red VQPRD to enter the Greek market, constituting a landmark for red wines in Greece

The lowdown: Excuse the profanity but, $13? AYFKM?

The food match: Lamb Kebabs, greek oregano pesto marinade, roasted tomato jam

Boutari Naoussa 2008 (23218, $12.95) like other Xinomavro shows that combination of pure fruit and ancient wisdom. Juicy and rustic at the same time, erupting in cherry and a lava flow of hot rocks. There is leather, dry spice and sun-dried fruit. Already bricking like Sangiovese, as if rustic Vino Nobile Rosso. There is simply no earthly reason not to drink this every night for the rest of the summer.  89  @boutari

The grape: Gamay

The history: Fleurie is one of the ten ‘crus’ of Beaujolais that include Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Côte de Brouilly, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Regnié and St Amour. The Cru are made from Gamay grown on particularly favoured slopes

The lowdown: Incomparable value as compared to cost from a smaller and lesser-known producer (Perrier) at Villages pricing

The food match: Crispy Pig Ear and Pulled Pork Tacos, red onion marmalade, sorrel, maldon salt

Domaine Des Houdières Fleurie 2011 (342725, $16.95) is a calligraphic, violet floral invitation to fall in love with soft and dreamy Gamay. “Though she be but little, she is fierce!” Turns on her heel with a scrupulously phenolic char and licorice sour whip, then comes back again to glide gracefully around the last bend. Just what Fleurie should be, purposeful and simply terrific value for Cru Beaujolais. Waning midsummer excellence.  90  @VinexxCanada

The grape: Pinot Noir

The history: Run by the Stewart family, south of Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley

The lowdown: From grapes grown on volcanic Mount Boucherie bench slopes

The food match: The Beverly Hotel Toronto’s Beef Cheek, chantrelles, charred onion, tomato jam, kennebec fries

Quail’s Gate Pinot Noir 2011 (585760, $26.95) with a flat-out ambrosial aromatic entry bequeaths extremely ripe, fleshy red stone fruit and a hit of java, hold the crema and the splinters. Toss in some cool eucalyptus to that tincture, perhaps, like De Loach Van Der Kamp. Intimates a Sonoman dream in confected perfume unlike any Okanagan predecessor. This is flamboyant stuff for OV, toothsome, and were it from California I might think it OTT but from B.C., not so. Expertly judged fruit/acid balance and such plush texture. Gobs of fruit with just enough grit to keep it real. “The clamorous owl, that nightly hoots and wonders at our quaint spirits.” 91  @Quails_Gate

The grape: Pinot Noir

The history: The name Evening Land Vineyards was inspired by the lure of Homer’s ideal garden and is the final chapter of Homer’s Odyssey

The lowdown: This is the second commercial vintage of purchased grapes from the Spanish Springs Vineyards, located only two miles from the Pacific Ocean sheltered behind the coastal range

The food match: California Plum Caprese Salad

Evening Land Pinot Noir Spanish Springs Vineyard 2011 (337147, $46.95, ISD) may just be too glorious to be true. There are blueberries in a savoury key, a citrus and anise accent and chalky grit. At 13 per cent ABV it’s remarkably real, honest and wanting for love. Prodigious floral and strawberry aromas, magnetic and resonant tension, like Nebbiolo in a Piemontese state-of-the-art mind, or like a Grand Cru Greek red, in Duke of Athens character.  Enigmatic Pinot that could never be mistaken for Burgundy and quite frankly might trick many to not know it’s Pinot. “Are you sure/That we are awake? It seems to me/That yet we sleep, we dream.”  93  @elwines

Good to go!

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