Summer Reds

Originally published in the Yakima Herald Republic July 13, 2017
by Barbara Glover

Popular red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot are often too heavy to be enjoyed during this hot weather. Instead, look for red wines light in color and body that can be chilled to beat the summer heat. Varietals to consider include Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Cabernet Franc.

If you prefer red wines, keep your eye out for the following wines during the summer months.

Sangiovese (pronounced “san joe vay seh”) might be Italy’s best-known grape, but it is not abundant in any other region of the world. Winemakers in Washington produce 75,000 cases annually, that’s less than 1% of the state’s total wine production. As a result, Sangiovese wines are almost always small production and can be difficult to find, but they are worth the hunt.

Wines to try:
Eight Bells Winery 2014 Red Willow Sangiovese  $25.00  Eight Bells Winery is one of the top urban wineries in Seattle. 85% of their fruit comes from Yakima Valley’s Red Willow vineyard. The wines are varietally correct and outstanding in quality. This wine would pair beautifully with rare steaks or anything with tomato sauce.

Kiona Vineyard Winery 2013 Estate Red Mountain Sangiovese $25.00  This well-made Sangiovese is a bright, fruit-forward wine that is very easy to pair with food, grilled food preferably. Be aware that the wine is pretty high in acid so it’s important to match it with acid in the food.

Tempranillo (pronounced “temp ra nee yo”) is the grape variety that forms the backbone of some of the finest red wines from Spain and Portugal. In fact, Tempranillo is one of the most planted grape varieties in the world. Northwest winemakers are starting to see a market for this wine and are producing more of it, though quantities are still very small.

Wines to try:
Maryhill Winery Tempranillo, 2012 Sugarloaf Vineyard, Yakima Valley $34.00

This award-winning wine has a beautiful garnet color with strawberry and cherry flavors. It is available at the winery’s exclusive Reserve Tasting Room near Goldendale, or online for members of their wine club.

DavenLore Winery 2014 Tempranillo, Upland Vineyards, Snipes Mountain $32.00 The grapes for this wine were grown in the stony soils of the Snipes Mountain American Viticultural Area (AVA) near Sunnyside. Winemaker Gordon Taylor suggests paella, pasta fagioli or spaghetti as perfect pairings for this wine.

Cabernet Franc (pronounced “cab-ernay frahnk”) has primarily been used as a blending grape in the popular Bordeaux blends. It has recently gained a solid following as a single varietal wine. The wine is lighter than its companion Cabernet Sauvignon, but still reveals complexity and balance.

Wines to try:
2010 Parris Estate Reserve Cabernet Franc, Yakima Valley $46.00  This wine is a personal favorite. Its lighter body makes it a great summer wine, but is excellent year round. Enjoy its raspberry and plum aromas and red fruit flavors. Cab Franc is very food friendly. This wine would pair well with roast chicken or steak frites.

2013 Cultura Wine Cabernet Franc, Fewel Family Estate Vineyard, Yakima Valley, $40.00  Tad and Sarah Fewel, owners of Cultura Wine are known for their opulent Yakima Valley wines. For loyal fans of Cultura, their Cabernet Franc is front and center, produced from their Estate vineyard in Zillah.

Don’t be afraid to open that bottle of red wine this summer. These lighter reds can be served slightly cooler than a standard red wine.  Put the bottle in the refrigerator 20 minutes before you drink it, allowing the wine to cool slightly and offer a more refreshing summer wine experience.

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