Bring on the fruity reds for barbecue season: Richard Esling June 8
Although at times we may be sheltering under an umbrella, as the sausages quietly steam in a steady drizzle, summer barbecue season is here. And hopefully, along with some warm sunny days and evenings cooking in the garden, with a glass of something interesting to share with friends, who we can now meet with once again.
Whether you are an inveterate ‘barbecuer’, with your own secret recipe marinade and a shed full of cooking tools, trays with holes in and gadgets for lighting the stubbornest of charcoals, or a simple sausage griller, there is something quite satisfying in producing well barbecued fare.
With the heat slightly charring the meat, sausages or indeed vegetables, the flavours produced can be relatively powerful, needing some flavoursome red wine to complement them. Many of the wines from South America can fit the bill admirably, with their fruit-forward, soft, mellow, yet full flavoured characteristics.
Ventisquero Wine Estates in the Central Valley region of Chile, make a soft, fresh, plummy red called Yali Wild Swan Merlot 2020. The velvety Merlot grapes have aromas and flavours of red plums and black cherries, perfect with spicy sausages and chilli chicken wings. Great value at £5.50 from the Co-op. One of the leading wine estates in the region for sustainability and environmental management.
The Wine Society’s Chilean Pinot Noir 2020 comes from the coastal Leyda Valley, with a cooler climate which suits this grape variety. Produced by Vina Undurraga, one of the Chilean greats, the wine is packed full of ripe cherry fruit. Partial barrel fermentation gives additional complexity and some vanilla notes, with a super-soft, delicious finish. Bring out the lamb cutlets and herby chicken thighs. Another bargain price at £7.95 from The Wine Society.
Back to the Co-op again, Zuccardi Brazos Cabernet Franc 2020 hails from the Uco Valley region of Mendoza in Argentina. Making an interesting change from Malbec, the cabernet franc gives firm tannins, good balancing acidity with bags of ripe fruit. £9.50, a delicious bottle at this price and excellent with beef kebabs, accompanied by grilled peppers and courgettes, topped with goat’s cheese.
Another wine from the Zuccardi stable, this time from the more oft encountered Malbec grape, is the magnificent José Zuccardi Malbec 2016. Again from the Uco Valley and with 5% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, this a powerful red, designed for powerful flavours. Although what may be described as ‘chunky’ (technical wine-tasting term!), there is great complexity and depth, with ripe tannins and mellow, juicy fruit, enhanced by 12 months ageing in large, old oak vats and concrete tanks. Fine and elegant, with underlying power. Track it down at around the £37 per bottle mark in specialists, such as Saxty’s Wines or Hop Cellar.
And finally, an Argentinian Malbec with a distinct difference – its Fortified with spirit to 17.5 per cent and is a sweet dessert wine. Zuccardi Malamado Fortified Malbec is one of those extraordinary wines which can actually pair well with chocolate – not on the barbecue, as it could be very messy! But with a chocolate dessert, or indeed toasted marshmallows, sandwiched between dark chocolate biscuits (a favourite of my five year-old grandson, and his mum!), it is a delight. Amazingly long finish, with complex flavours of dried figs, cinnamon, toasted pine kernels and black pepper, amongst the rich, dark berry character. At £19.40 a bottle, worth tracking down at Taste Argentina or a range of specialist wine merchants, such as Field and Fawcett.