Six red wines for the barbecue weather

A selection of reds for summer
A selection of reds for summer

How wonderful! Real summer weather.

Breakfast in the garden, lunch in the garden and drinks on the patio. Holiday weather even if you’re not on holiday.

And definitely time to resurrect the barbecue or go out and buy a new one if the current model has finally succumbed to rust and has cooked its last sausage.

So, whether you are the world’s best barbecue chef, or one that tends to produce tasty but unrecognisable charred morsels, here are six recommendations for red wines with your summer meats.

First is a deliciously fruity red from Sicily, La Ferla 2016. Made from the iconic Sicilian red grape, Nero d’Avola, it is a humble regional wine in classification, but with modern winemaking it has plenty of fruit character, with some spice and black pepper. Gentle tannins give an appealing mid-weight wine, perfect for lighter Summer meats. Amazing value at £6.95 from the Wine Society. If you’re not a member yet – join!

Then there are two wines made from similar grape varieties but on opposite sides of the world. La Garrigue 2016 from Domaine Sainte Rose comes from the Languedoc region of southern France and is made by an English couple, Charles and Ruth Simpson, who have also recently planted vineyards in Kent, a somewhat different climate. La Garrigue is made from a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes, producing an intensely rich and aromatic wine, with deep black fruit flavours, spice and pepper, with fragrant herb aromas, recalling the wild, arid region from whence it comes. Great value at £8.99 from Majestic.

From ‘down under’, comes another wine made from Grenache and Syrah, the latter here called Shiraz. From the McLaren Vale in South Australia, Hancock and Hancock’s 2015 Shiraz Grenache has flavours of dark plums and red cherries, together with the typical spicy and peppery character of Syrah and fruity, rose petal aromatics. Medium bodied with silky tannins and great fruit. £12 from on-line retailers and independents.

Getting to the chunkier flavours, which stand up well to a char-grilled rib-eye, barbecued joint of sirloin or partially cremated butcher’s sausages, there is ‘Big Bill’. This is a wine from KWV in the Western Cape of South Africa. Described as a bold red blend, it has aromas of strawberry, cherry and mulberry, with hints of dark chocolate. Soft tannins are complemented by sweet, ripe fruit and give a long finish. The name comes from William ‘Big Bill’ Millar, who was the first general manager of KWV. A war hero, boxing champion and Springbok champion, he had a barrel made of French oak, which had a capacity of 21,867 litres. Ridiculously big. Ocado £8.99.

The final two wines of this selection are French, or at least French-influenced in the case of one of these. Clos de Los Siete 2014 comes from the Mendoza region of Argentina, made by the top French wine producer Michel Rolland and part owned by a French wine producer. Clos de los Siete is a venture bringing together a team of men and women who share a passion for wine and for Argentina. Clos de los Siete benefits from their extensive knowledge and their commitment to create a truly great Argentinian wine. Particular care has been taken with the viticulture, vinification and maturation so as to obtain the essence of this rich terroir and the noble varieties where Malbec rules. A new star is born: with seven points and symbolising ambition and conviction. Stunning red at only £16 from Sainsbury’s.

The final wine of my six is a classic from the Pessac-Leognan region of Bordeaux. La Terrasse de La Garde 2014 is the second wine of Chateau La Garde, owned by Vignobles Dourthe, one of the best wine producers in the whole of Bordeaux. I am a huge fan of second wines, since they represent particularly good value, with the quality level still greatly influenced by the main or ‘first’ wine. This is a tremendous claret, with extraordinary balance of concentration, structure and finesse. Aged in oak for 12 months it epitomises the elegance of red Bordeaux. Awarded a gold medal in the International Wine Challenge. Also available from Sainsbury’s around £15 per bottle.

Richard Esling BSc DipWSET is an experienced wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. An erstwhile wine importer, he runs a wine agency and consultancy company called WineWyse, is founder and principal of the Sussex Wine Academy, chairman of Arundel Wine Society and is an International Wine Judge. Twitter @richardwje. Visit www.winewyse.com.

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