Wine Tasting Recap: Wines for Barbeque!
Wine, of course can be paired with anything: Cheez Its, TastyKakes – even TV shows for a non-food pairing. But, there are also classic pairings that are often discussed and, more importantly, eaten and drunk together. These include Sancerre and Oysters, Champagne and Caviar, Barolo and Truffles, Port and Stilton, etc. None of those, however, comprise the typical, American, summer-time meal of barbeque. Too often, the grilled, smokey, tangy meats off the grill are paired with beer – which certainly is tasty. But, wine can be equally – if not more – tasty with barbeque, and can match the bold and spicy notes perfectly. So what are these wines? Bob Barrett, Certified Expert of Wine and our Global Vineyard Passport Series guide, came up with five different wines, from the classic barbeque wine, Zinfandel, to a more unique choice, Rose of Cannonau. Here are all five:
Argiolas SerraLori Rosato Isola dei Nuraghi IGT 2013, Sardinia
This rose is a blend of 4, native, red varietals: 50% Cannonau, 35% Monica, 20% Carignano and 5% Bovale Sardo from the Guamaggiore and S’elegas vineyards planted at 750 feet elevation. Grapes are hand-harvested and vinified in stainless steel tanks, and skin contact is made for less than 24 hours. It has residual sugar of 1.9 g/L, which gives it just enough sweetness to compliment ingredients such as honey and brown sugar that are often used in BBQ recipes, but is below the level (2 g/L) required to perceive sweetness.
This rose is fresh and very “drinkable”. It has ample, red berries, including dark cherry. The body is full, with strong tannins for a rose. Those characters and its spiciness make it drink like a red wine.
Winery itself recommends with barbeque chicken or ribs, and I can vouch for those options. It would also be great with pork – especially one of Sardinia’s specialties, “maialetto”, or roasted piglet.
Everyone enjoyed this wine, and I think it was quite surprise to some to have a full-bodied, strongly-flavored rose.
Graham Beck “The Game Reserve” Pinotage 2012, Western Cape, South Africa
Made from 100% Pinotage, the hybrid of pinot noir & cinsaut (hermitage) for which South Africa is known. Grapes were hand harvested from vineyards in Franschhoek and Paarl. Fermentation occurred both open and covered, with regular punch downs and pump-overs. Portions of the wine were aged in 3rd and 4th fill barrels.
The nose on this wine has very strong berry presence, as well as the typical “smoke” of the pinotage. More fruit in the mouth along with some peppercorn spiciness, and soft tannins, with a nice mouth feel. The winemakers attest this wine would be good with many foods, including a “good old fashioned barbecue”. South African’s – and other southern African peoples – enjoy traditional barbecue over a “braii”, a grill over an open flame. Despite the fact that this wine’s label is an homage to an insectivore fox (!), it is most definitely a barbeque wine. I guess we could try it with barbequed termites?
Not everyone loves pinotage… but I do! Though this was not as smokey, tar-y, and band-aid-y as some, it still proved a bit challenging for out tasters, about 50% of whom found its strong flavors a bit overwhelming.
Seghesio Zinfandel 2012, Sonoma County
This is made from 100% zinfandel. Seghesio is one of the oldest properties in Sonoma County, and their first Zinfandel vineyard was planted in 1895. Fermentation occurred in both open and closed stainless tanks. Maceration occurred for 8-12 days, followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine was aged 10 months in American and French oak.
This wine has deep, deep flavors of red fruits, cinnamon, tobacco, and Mexican (spiced) chocolate. It tasted rich and full-bodied, plus a bit hot (ABV 14.8%). The winemakers suggest pairing this with pizza, meats, and barbeque. Zinfandel and Barbeque are truly a classic pairing – especially at Seghesio – as indicated by their annual Zin & BBQ Festival.
This wine was generally loved by all of our tasters who, at this point, were quite ready to get some roasted meat!
TerraNoble La Higuera Vineyard Carmenere 2012, Maule Valley, Chile
This wine is made from 95% Carmenere and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon from the La Higuera vineyard, at an altitude between 200-400 meters in the Maule Valley. The wine is given a cold-soak maceration of several days, with frequent pump-overs. It is aged for ten months in a combination of stainless steel and French and American oak barrels, followed by an additional eight months of aging in bottle
This full-flavored wine has a nose of mint and smoke, with a hint of bell pepper. There are deep, fruit notes fig, and hints of dusty cocoa. The oak also imparts a touch of dill-pickle tang. The tannins are round and soft. The winemakers note that this would be good with lamb, a common feature of the Chilean (and Argentine) Asado – which refers to the open grill (parilla) and the social event, itself.
This is a crowd-pleasing wine, and was enjoyed by the majority of the tasters.
Domaine Gueissard Bandol 2011, Provence, France
This wine is made from a blend of 70% Mourvedre, 15% Cinsault and 15% Grenache. The grapes are grown on ancient, terraced hillsides of limestone and clay soil on plots of land in Sanary sur Mer, in the heart of Provence. Grapes are hand harvested, destemmed and sorted. The wine undergoes an extended maceration period of 30 days, and after 100% malolactic fermentation the wine is aged in oak barrels for 18 months.
This is a beautiful, dark, rich wine, with a lovely garrigue nose. It gives an immediate tingle on the tongue, followed by rosemary, black olive, dark-red fruits. This wine has a ton of flavor and ample tannin for the rich fruits and for barbeque. Bob thinks this wine would make an excellent pairing with grilled lamb chops with herbs de Provence or les tomates Provençales au barbecue, a dish of grilled, stuffed tomatoes. Winemakers also recommend it with beef, game, and black truffles… J
All of our tasters enjoyed this wine. A lot.
This was another successful tasting – thanks, Bob! – of five, flavorful wines. All of them certainly would be at home on the picnic table with grilled meats and vegetables. There was no overwhelming favorite, as the three, richer reds (the final 3) had almost equal numbers of proponents.