Traditionally, last weekend’s “Glorious Twelfth” stirs those fuller reds out of hibernation to put in a shift accompanying the harvest from the game shooting season.
Need that be the end of those “lighter summer reds” though?
There are good reasons why lighter reds can be sound year-round choices.
Lower alcohol levels can often make lighter wines good choices for social gatherings and for health reasons.
Equally, it is serious deprivation to deny ourselves access to a range of tasty grape varieties – like young barbera – for up to nine months.
Anyway, wines like a red Loire are just as suitable for sunny September and October days are they are for many days in June or July.
And, possibly more importantly, light reds are often particularly versatile as food wines – being less likely to overpower the more delicate of our favourite dishes.
On that note, food matchers should never be afraid of serving selected red wines with the first course followed by an appropriate white with the main course.
Wine has more connection with the food partnering it than with the wine from the preceding course.
So, here is a selection of “summer” reds that – for me – merit a longer season.
For completeness, pinot noir is included even though many versions are already year-round wines.
My choices are spread across the price points starting, currently, at £7.
In the usual way, hyperlinks and pictures are used where possible to help you locate the bottle in question.
Beginning with that (at present) inexpensive option
2022 Errazuriz Estate Pinot Noir (£6.99 – instead of £9.49 until 22 August – at Waitrose and 13.5% abv):
Despite Chile’s Aconcagua wine region being reasonably warm, cool mountain air and coastal breezes mean that pinot noir can do well there.
This is a good illustration of the inexpensive, straight forward versions that can result – and it’s currently at a great price.
Clear and bright, the wine has rounded cherry, red plum and pomegranate flavours.
These are partnered by good acidity, firm tannin and a liquorice background also containing milk chocolate and cinnamon elements.
Do decant this wine though to allow any pinot style rustic aromas to dispel.
And then to Europe
2021 M&S Found Zweigelt (£9 at Ocado or £8.50 at M&S stores and 13%):
While Austria is primarily a white wine producing country, its red wines can also impress.
The high yielding zweigelt grape is frequently used for basic “jug wines” but, here, shows its capacity for juicy and intense versions too.
Light in colour with vibrant acidity and gentle tannin, this example has soft cherry, raspberry and red currant flavours as its foundation.
That base is nicely supplemented by hints of allspice, pepper and caramel.
Next is an even less familiar wine region.
2021 Co-op Irresistible La Courbe (£11 at the Co-op and 12.5%):
Switzerland’s Valais region is the first wine producing area the infant Rhone meets when it starts its journey.
Lots of enterprising winemakers here and this blend of the local gamaret cross with pinot noir is a good (and well-priced for Swiss wine) illustration.
Smoky with minty aromas, it delivers medium bodied cranberry, plum and blackberry flavours.
Joining the party though are sharp acidity, balanced tannin and touches of chocolate and star anise.
Back to a better-known region.
2022 Les Terrasses St Nicolas Cabernet Franc (£11 at Tesco and 12.5%):
Chinon, Bourgueil and St Nicolas de Bourgueil are three red wine superstars in that part of the Loire between Angers and Tours
All three of them produce beautifully perfumed flavours of soft fruit and – because of its northerly latitude – attractively light cabernet franc that is seriously underestimated by the wine drinking public.
Dark and aromatic, this version brings us ripe loganberry, and red cherry flavours supercharged by a lively freshness.
All this is combined with savoury edged liquorice, mocha and green pepper traces and quite firm tannin.
Can’t keep away from South America though.
2021 Domaine Bousquet Reserve Pinot Noir (£14.50 at Vintage Roots and 13.5%):
Tupungato in Argentina’s up and coming Uco Valley region has some of that country’s highest vineyards and is acquiring a reputation for chardonnay.
Here, though, an acclaimed organic operation brings us not white wine but pinot noir – however, as you might expect, it is in a far from standard format.
Surprisingly dark but with the clarity organic wines so often present, it exhibits fragrant raspberry and plum flavours embellished by lively acidity and well measured tannin.
Lovers of pinot noir with a savoury foundation will relish this wine and the nutty, cola and clove elements it also contains.
NB:- The retailer's web site takes time to load if you use the hyperlink provided here.
Finally to a long forbidden option.
2021 Louis Jadot Bourgogne Gamay (£14 – instead of £16 until 5 September – at Sainsbury’s and 13%):
From an edict by Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, in 1395 and reinforced by a French Government decree in 1937, gamay vines have been banned in parts of Burgundy.
But, by 2011, the potential high quality of modern gamay was recognised and restrictions were relaxed enough to create the Bourgogne Gamay appellation – under which this wine appears.
Soft with a suspicion of sweetness, it features bright blackcurrant and black cherry flavours.
These are ably supported by vivid acidity and a clove centred depth that also contains floral influences.
Once again, decanting is advised, but doing so will repay any such cosseting and grace your glass with an excellent wine.
Tune in again on Monday when value at budget price points is, once more, the theme of my latest Top Tips post.
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