Fight summertime blues with these fabulous reds
By Alison Bailin Batz
For many, that about sums up Arizona in August, when it’s 110 (or more) degrees one day and pouring down rain the next, thanks to the monsoon.
But don’t let the dog days of summer give you the blues. Instead, use this time — likely being spent indoors watching the rain or cranking up the air conditioning — to explore some refreshing-yet-bold new red wine options? Yes, red wine is allowed in the summer, even here!
These are some can’t-miss options:
2017 Kali Hart Pinot Noir
This is the brand’s most fruit-forward expression, yet it is still quite complex. Expect bright flavors here, especially cherries, cola, boysenberries and vanilla. The finish is pleasantly clean and luscious with definite minerality and even herbaceous notes at the end. $21.
2016 Bear Flag Sonoma County Zinfandel
Bear Flag Wine
All of the Bear Flag wines are inspired by the intrepid, independent spirit of California. As such, expect bold wines here with unrelenting flavor. This bottle, with its full body and hint of spice, is one of its finest. Beyond the dark fruits and toasted oak one would expect in a zin, this beauty also has notes of actual blueberry pie, making it even more perfect in summer months. $24.99.
2016 Gehricke Russian River Valley Zinfandel
This dazzler is actually a blend of old vine zinfandel, which means jammy and fruity flavors, and a touch of petite syrah. The result of the marriage between the two grapes is a wine with powerful aromas of cinnamon sticks and black peppercorns that tastes of ripe plum, cherry cordial and black currants. $30.
2016 Swanson Napa Valley Merlot
The movie “Sideways” — wherein the main characters constantly talked poorly about merlot — was so wrong. A good merlot, like this one with its juicy blue fruit and coconut husk aromas and layered fruit flavor, is just about the perfect summer wine. It’s also a perfect pairing with almost any dish, including barbeque. $32.
2016 Sea Slopes Pinot Noir
Fort Ross Winery
This expressive pinot was inspired by the majestic Sonoma Coast and the steep, rugged ridges perched at the golden (a.k.a. California) edge of the continent. The aromas of cherry, cranberry and lilac are hard to miss upon opening the bottle, and it tastes of strawberry, currants and then finally black plum in every sip. $35.
J Vineyards 2017 Pinot Noir
J Vineyards & Winery
Though many know J Vineyards as a titan in the sparkling wine industry, their estate vineyards — one of which produced this silky pinot — deserve just as much praise. Expressive and subtle, then rich and tannin-forward, every sip from this bottle will stay with you long after it’s gone. Expect a complex mix of flavors ranging from raspberry and dark cherry to earthy mushrooms and even allspice. $40.
2017 Pauli Ranch Barbera
This wine is special for far more than just the flavor as Portalupi just signed a contract with Quench Wines to begin distribution in Arizona for the first time ever! If unfamiliar with the brand, the Barbera is a perfect introduction with its formidable acidity, black plum and licorice notes. The touch of smoke and white pepper at the finish rounds out the flavors and makes it a perfect food wine. $42.
2014 Hommage Cabernet Sauvignon
From the Tenma estate vineyard in Calistoga, this luxurious estate blend is deep in color and intensity. It was aged 19 months in French oak and is rich, and has hints of red fruit, cocoa and espresso on the nose. The taste is something really special as it explodes with that juicy red before giving way to an essence of cedar and dark chocolate on the finish. $125.
2016 John C. Sullenger Vineyard
Nickel & Nickel Winery
Named for man who — in the 1880s — initially settled the farmstead where the now-famous Nickel & Nickel sits, this approachable-yet-structured and elegant wine delights with notes of cherry as well as delicate herbs and even a touch of earthiness. The softness is tempered well with a naturally acidic finish thanks to the tannins within. $125.