Locked In Flavors

Locked In Flavors

Whether on the backyard patio, fire pit at the beach or park, or even a portable BBQ at a tailgate party in the parking lot of the local baseball, soccer or football team, grilled meats demand robust reds as a savory counterpoint to the sometimes potent flavors from the spicier concoctions of summer. Beer can work too, but more as a somewhat one-dimensional refreshing extinguisher to the heat from potent chili and rib sauces.

Red wines, even inexpensive ones, can provide more nuances to stimulate the senses.  The aroma of a beer, even an expensive craft creation, would have fewer complexities than a $12 Cabernet Sauvignon from most quality producers.  The following favorites from the value category were selected from wines tasted and tweeted about during the past three months. I added results from a couple of classic tastings for possible entertainment or educational value (or neither!).

Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Value Mendoza Cabernet ‘09 Norton Barrel Select $10. Mint, herbaceous, wood nose; ripe grapes (14.0 alc.); semi-chewy, Cab flavor. w/BBQ, pizza, burgers.
  •  Quaffing burger/beach Cabernet ’10 Murphy Goode Calif. $11. Innocuous nose; mid-body/tannins; fruity finish; a little hot.
  • Fruity BBQ/picnic Alexander Valley Cabernet ’11 Longhand $15. Cab, mint, oak nose; soft, mid-body; decent Cab flavor; a little hot on the finish.

Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Merlot

  • Super Mendoza Malbec value ’12 Altiplano $10. Ripe grape nose (14.2 alc.), anise, jam; mid-big body; good tannins, acids, fruit. w/BBQ, ribs.
  • BBQ wine Cosentino The Franc ’11 Lodi Cab Franc $10. Pepper, hyacinth, wood nose; cocoa, pomegranate flavors; bright fruit.
  •  Big grapey Mendoza Malbec ’12 Machi $13. Ripe berry, jam nose; palate-coating fruit. w/meat loaf, pizza, pasta.
  •  Rib wine, Tobin James “Made in the Shade” ’09 Paso Robles Merlot $13. Big berry, jam, prune nose; mid-big body; long berry finish.
  •  Rich Mendoza Malbec ’07 Poesia $15. Clos des Andes. Ripe grape, jammy nose  (14.0 alc.); mid-body, deep varietal flavor; long finish. W/ribs.
  •  Napa red find Hill Family ’11 The Barrel $16. Merlot, chocolate, oak nose; balanced; some tannins, heft; long finish. W/beef, BBQ.


  • Tasty Medoc find ‘09 Ch. Prignac $9. Earth, berry nose; mid-body, semi-tight tannins, good acids, Cab flavor. Equals $15+ wines. W/beef
  • Value Bordeaux ’10 Ch. Prieur $9. Earthy, berry, mineral nose; Merlot blend; soft finish. A little thin. W/munchies.
  • Value Languedoc ’11 Bonfils Sud Sauvage $10. 55% Syrah 45 Grenache. Smokey, earthy nose; soft, balanced, quaffable. Party red.
  • Tasty Cahors ’09 Ch. Reces $15. 85% Malbec 15 Merlot. Blackberry jam nose; tight tannins; good structure; a little hot. w/BBQ, ribs.

Spain, Italy

  • BBQ/barbecue value Rioja ’11 Rio Madre $9. 100% Graciano. Dark purple; Leather, pepper, prune nose; ripe, long chewy finish (14.5 alc.).
  • Tasty Spanish Jumilla ’10 Juan Gil $12. 100% Monastrell. Ripe berry nose; mid-fat body; nice structure; big flavor (15% alc.) w/BBQ, ribs.
  • Value Toscana red ’10 Badiola (70% Sangiovese; 30 Merlot) $12. Light mint, wood, metallic nose; balanced tannins, acids; some style. w/appetizers.


Still Emerging

Still Emerging

  •  Merlot (85%) done right Ch. Clinet ’88 Pomerol. Chocolate, berry, smoky terroir nose; mid-body, smooth, balanced, deep fruit; fine finish.
  •  Evolving Napa Cabernet ’00 Spottswoode. Classic Napa nose (mint, berries, bell pepper); mid-body, tannins easing, tasty finish. w/filet
  •  Refined Calif. Cabernet ‘98 Spottswoode. Older Napa nose; berries, wood, pepper; nuanced fruit, balanced (13.5 alc.) vs. fruit bombs. Fine food wine.
  •  Classy Haut-Medoc La Tour Carnet ‘05 ($30) mint, berry, oak, cocoa nose (51% Merlot, 43 Cab Sauv); mid-body, tannins; super fruity finish.
  •  Cellar surprise ‘03 Foxen Red (77% Sangiovese, 23 Merlot). Aging well. Earth, wood, jam nose; fine black fruit, spice flavors. w/veal.
  •  One of the best tasted in the past year, 1986 Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac. Darkest purple; tobacco, cedar, terroir, earthy, metallic nose; mid-big body; chocolate, Cabernet, semi-chewy; long, rich finish; good tannins; life left.