There’s something mysterious about August, at least in these latitudes. Suddenly the days start getting perceptibly shorter. An unexpected slant of light can shock us with the reality that there’s only one month left in Summer, and the U.S. elections in November are only 12 weeks away. (That may not be such a bad thing, as everyone I know is ready for them to be over.)
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But it doesn’t feel like Summer is going away any time soon. Last month was the world’s hottest July since records began to be kept, according to NASA, and it was the tenth straight record warm month. That’s hot.
And August hasn’t been any better around here, where it’s not just the heat but the humidity as well. This is a season for iced tea, cold beer, tall icy cocktails … and, for most of us, wines thoughtfully selected to beat the heat. Chilled, light whites, cold bubbly that doesn’t require contemplation.
But some of us love red wine too much to give it up. What are we supposed to do? Well, there’s always the option of cranking down the air conditioning until icicles form on the lighting fixtures, then going ahead with Vintage Port or a fine old Châteauneuf-du-Pape. But that’s not very “green,” and my wife grumbles and pointedly gets a sweater when the AC goes into overdrive.
My advice? Look to the lighter, simpler quality reds during a heat wave, and don’t hesitate to chill them a bit before pouring for dinner. Don’t put them in an ice bucket, mind you, but a lot of these summery reds are more delicious and refreshing around cellar temperature – 55F or 13C – and you can get there easily by sticking your bottle in the fridge an hour before dinner or the freezer for 15 minutes or so.
So, what reds will serve this summer duty? I stay away from the bigger wines, but wouldn’t hesitate to cool off and uncork a Loire Valley red, or a German Pinot Noir, or an Austrian Zweigelt, perhaps.
But hey, what about a Beaujolais?
A Beaujolais, you say? Wait! Isn’t that the soft, sweet stuff that comes with a flower label and used to get a little seasonal hype in November when the Beaujolais Nouveau arrives? Well, yeah, and while I wouldn’t absolutely turn down a cool glass from a flower bottle on a sizzling summer day, there’s lots more Beaujolais around, and quite a bit of it shows more of the lean, earthy rustic style that I enjoy.
We’re looking at two good examples for this week’s review: Louis Jadot 2014 Beaujolais-Villages, one of the major Beaujolais producers that’s generally more aligned to my taste than the fruity offerings of Georges Duboeuf; and Château des Reyssiers 2013 Regnié, an appealing wine from one of the Beaujolais villages known as “Crus” and permitted to put the village name on the label in place of the generic “Beaujolais.” You’ll find my tasting reports on both wines below.
We’re also exploring Beaujolais for our August Wine Focus in the WineLovers Discussion Group. You’re invited to bring Gamay-based wines and the related Valdiguié, but we certainly don’t rule out excursion into similarly styled reds such as the aforementioned Zweigelt or lighter-styled Pinot Noir.
Because last month’s Wine Focus on Riesling went over so well, we’re also holding it over for another month, making this our forum’s first-ever Month Of Two Foci! In fact, if there’s enough continued interest, we may keep a “Talk about Riesling” topic active for as long as people want it.
Savor California’s Finest Wines
The California Wine Club has two upper-level club options for collectors and connoisseurs.
• Their Signature Series offers hand-selected, limited production California gems that are covered in gold medals and 90+ point ratings. These are the wines critics rave about.
• Their Aged Cabernet Series is the ultimate reward in fine viticulture, featuring Napa’s finest Cabernets carefully aged for 8 to 12 years and ready to savor now. This exquisite club level offers an experience not found anywhere else.
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About The California Wine Club
There are thousands of small family wineries handcrafting extraordinary wine in quantities too limited to be found in local stores or shops. In 1990 wine club founders Bruce and Pam Boring discovered that these winemaking families were the most passionate in the wine world and that their wines were the hidden gems of wine country! Together Bruce and Pam embarked on a journey to help these artisan wineries introduce their exquisite wines to the world.
Today’s Tasting Reports
Château des Reyssiers 2013 Regnié ($16.99)
The subtle and earthy flavors of this clear, dark reddish-violet wine are a step above everyday Beaujolais in refinement and balance, too, although it’s still typical of the region in its fresh scents of cranberry and wild strawberry with a hint of spice. On the palate it’s ripe and fresh, tart red fruit shaped by mouth-watering acidity and distinct, gently astringent tannins. Good acidic balance and comfortable 12.5% alcohol makes it a winning table wine with versatile capability for pairing with food. U.S. importer: Louis Latour Inc., San Rafael, Calif. (Aug. 18, 2016)
FOOD MATCH: The producer suggests “White meats, grilled entrecote steak, barbecued ribs, appetizers and cheese.” We paired it with a light summer farmers’ market dinner of fresh Christmas lima beans braised with tomatoes, onions and garlic with a hint of bay leaf.
WHEN TO DRINK: The wines of the named Beaujolais villages are considered better for cellaring than simple generic Beaujolais or even Beaujolais-Villages, which are best drunk up within a few years of the vintage. Regnié and its cousins, conversely, may gain complexity and elegance with careful cellaring under controlled temperature. Even so, it’s not a wine to leave for your grandchildren. Drink now or cellar properly and start sampling within five years of the vintage. Also, its taint-free “Diam” cork offers assurance that the wine will stay clean in the cellar.
My local retail price is closely aligned with the $16 average retail reported on Wine-Searcher.com, and I think that’s a reasonable value for this interesting, food-friendly table wine.
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Compare prices and look for vendors for Château des Reyssiers Regnié at Wine-Searcher.com
Louis Jadot 2014 Beaujolais-Villages ($11.99)
This clear, medium-dark reddish-violet wine offers good, typical Beaujolais Gamay scents, strawberries and tart cherries and an earthy nuance reminiscent of damp clay. Simple but fresh and juicy cherry-berry flavors come into focus on the palate, fully dry, shaped by zippy acidity and a soft but apparent buzz of tannins felt most perceptibly on the cheeks and back of the tongue. With good balance and a moderate 12.5 percent alcohol, it’s an appealing and versatile table wine. U.S. importer: Kobrand Corp., Purchase, N.Y. (Aug. 3, 2016)
FOOD MATCH: The back label suggests hors d’oeuvres, mild cheeses or poultry dishes. I find good Beaujolais works well with mildly spicy dishes, and paired it with a simple Cajun-style dinner of sliced okra and fresh tomatoes from the garden, cooked up in a black-iron skillet with onions, garlic and a spicy mix of black pepper and two red peppers.
WHEN TO DRINK: Simple Beaujolais isn’t made for aging, but this vintage’s good fruit-acid balance and soft tannins suggests that it should hold, and possibly gain a little flavor interest, over several years. This wine is also protected from musty cork “taint” by a technological “Diam” cork.
For once, my local price is right on the $12 average U.S. retail price at Wine-Searcher.com, and it’s a very good value anywhere from $10 through the lower teens.
Here’s Louis Jadot’s website in English. Its system makes it difficult to link to specific pages, but you can work your way through “Wine Notes” and “Beaujolais Villages” to find your way to a short fact sheet on this wine.
Wine-Searcher.com also has a short, useful essay on Louis Jadot at this link.
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Find vendors and check prices for Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages at Wine-Searcher.com
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