Pinots, Grenache and Frappoto make for great summer drinking
A light bodied red wine can be the spot-on choice for a hot summer’s day. Perfect summertime grapes include Pinot Noir, Grenache, and Frappoto. All of these grape varietals are thin-skinned, therefore, don’t offer a lot of tannin (not the best ingredient during the heat of the summer).
Pinot Noir, grown in cool climate areas (think Sonoma vs. Napa), is a terrific summer wine that can pair both with meats and fish. Pinot flavor profile includes cherries and strawberries, but interesting spice or floral notes can make this varietal a compelling wine. Pinot Noir is the hallmark grape of Burgundy, but red Burgundies are usually expensive. For something more affordable look for great Pinots that are made in the Russian River of California… not far from the cooler Pacific Coast. Oregon’s Willamette Valley also produces some stunners. All Pinot Noirs below are highly recommended.
· Russian River: I particularly like Dehlinger.
· Oregon: Ponzi, Adelsheim, Domaine Droughin or Soter all produce excellent wines.
· Burgundy: Jadot produces both high-end, as well as some lost costly wines.
Grenache is the world’s most planted red grape. It is becoming more popular, especially among California vintners. A Rhone varietal (one of the grapes used in Chateauneuf du Pape), it is also grown in Spain where it is known as Garnacha. California’s Central Coast is also having very good success with this varietal, but they are using it primarily in blends. The Grenache grape is full of red fruit flavors (strawberries and raspberries). While it has good structure, Grenache’s tannins are background notes. The wine works especially well with grilled chicken, but also can swing to lamb or beef. My faves include....
- Spain: look no further than Arryan’s La Suerte Mentrida.
- Central Coast: Best includes Tablas Creek, Zaca Mesa and Justin.
- Chateauneuf du Pape: Beaucastel is the bomb.
· Frapatto is one of my favorites for summer time. Hailing from Sicily, Frapotto is a fun summer wine that usually everyone likes. Relatively unknown in the US until recently, Frapotto is starting to appear on our wine lists. Often blended with Sicily’s famous Nero d’Avola grape, Frapotto is more and more being vinified as its own varietal. Think strawberries. It’s a real hero with fish. Best producers are Planeta and Orcchipenti.
Paint the remainder of the summer Red!