Here’s an opportunity to sample three informal and affordable wines to enjoy at the beach, the picnic or the barbecue.
Let’s unscrew our white wine, the Gazela Vinho Verde ($9.99, on sale until July 27th). This unique wine is produced in the Minho region of northwest Portugal.
Verde translates as green, referring to the lush Portuguese forests and vineyards where the grapes are grown near the Atlantic coast. It also refers to the style, which is fresh, crisp, and youthful.
Gazela is produced from four different indigenous handpicked varieties. After fermentation and blending, it’s bottled immediately and carbon dioxide is added. The result is a lively wine much like spritzers, slightly fizzy, dry with low alcohol (9 per cent) and a crisp lemon-lime personality. When Mother Nature turns up the heat, chill out with a cold glass of Vinho Verde! Available at all BC Liquor Stores.
Next we open a C.C. Jentsch Cellars 2018 Blanc de Noir ($22.95) from the Golden Mile Bench in the Okanagan. It’s made from Merlot grapes grown on the estate near Oliver, with the skins and juice macerated for 24 hours. This is long enough to produce a gorgeous sockeye salmon colour and a ripe flavour profile.
Expect a ripe strawberry, peach, and plum flavour with a high alcohol level (13.4 per cent) and a heavy body finishing off-dry. If you enjoy a lighter drier rosé style, this won’t be for you.
But if you want a rosé with lots of character and some sweetness, this Jentsch Blanc de Noir is your cup of tea! It went perfectly with my alder smoked barbecued sockeye with white miso. Available at the winery or online. The 2017 version sells at the Save-On VQA store at Ironwood in Richmond.
Finally, a cheap and cheerful red for the barbecue, the Antano 2013 Rioja Reserva ($14.99 on sale until July 27th) from Spain. Riojas are the result of a disaster in the French wine region of Bordeaux in the 19th century. A root louse, phylloxera, was killing Bordeaux grapes.
To avoid disaster, French wine producers went to Spain’s Rioja region where the disease hadn’t taken root yet. They successfully produced a new style of wine, made from Spanish grapes in a Bordeaux style.
The Antano is made by blending four indigenous grape varieties: Tempranillo (Spain’s premium red grape), Garnacha, Graciano, and Mazuelo. Reservas are where Riojas begin to get serious. The red wine is aged for a total of three years with at least one year in oak barrels and at least six months in the bottle. As a result, Riojas are mature enough to show off their wonderful character the day you buy it. But they can also age further so cellar some of your Riojas and watch them evolve!
The Antano Rioja Reserva has a wonderful balance of fruit and structure with its soft tannins and acidity. A sniff in the glass reveals vanilla and cigar box against a dark fruit background. Rich flavours of cherries and dried fruit envelope your palate along with leather and toast. Smooth, silky, and sensational, especially for the price!
You can purchase the Antano at BC Liquor Stores. The 2013 vintage might be sold out but the 2014, which I didn’t taste, replaces it. According to Wine Spectator, in general the 2014 vintage is slightly better than the 2013.
Eric Hanson is a Richmond wine educator and journalist. Contact him at Ehanson0705@gmail.com
@ Vitis Magazine