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It’s that time of year where many of you have probably swapped out your red wines for ice cold rosés, whites, or esoteric bubbly, but what if we said that there were plenty of red wines that you could drink poolside?! We’re 100% here for putting varietals such as Gamay, Cinsault, Pinot Meunier, Grenache, Lambrusco, etc. on ice and drinking as if they are heavier rosé wines. In the winter we gravitate towards thicker skinned grape varieties that produce fuller bodied wines because of the high alcohol and tannin levels that become a lot more pleasant when its cold outside. Think of this as just the opposite! It’s hot af around the country, plus your probably spending a lot more time near the pool, lake, beach, and river so let’s expand our options, shall we?
If you’re like us, in the summer you crave bright, crisp, acid-driven wines, but who says that can’t be red? More and more winemakers around the world are harvesting thinner skinned red grapes in order to achieve that light red style. Think more bright, crunchy, tart fruit. More pomegranate, sour cherry, and raspberry, less blackberry and fig. Whole-cluster fermentation (aka when grapes aren’t removed from stems during fermentation process) and carbonic maceration (classic fermentation method of the Beaujolais, where fermentation happens inside of grapes themselves, causing them to explode in happy, boozy ecstasy) are increasingly common. Extraction is gentle, think low & slow. Aromas and texture are favored while weight and body are certainly not.
As per usual, it seems that the Old World has been driving the “lighter-style reds” wagon for centuries- walk into any natty bar in Paris and you’ll have at least 6 options for reds to put on ice. But it seems that our kin over here in California is catching on- and we think, giving Europe a run for its money. Take Las Jaras Wines’ Glou Glou Red from Mendocino, an annually changing blend of Carignan, Charbono, Valdigue, and Zinfandel! It’s fresh, chuggable and bright AND begging to be popped open at a summer barbecue. Or we can talk about the new-ish cool kids behind Monte Rio Cellars and their Carbonic Zinfandel- yeah you read that right CAR-BON-IC ZIN! From Suisun Valley, the place you drive through when leaving Napa and head to Sacramento, where the grapes undergo whole cluster fermentation PLUS carbonic maceration. The end product is a lovely hue of a magenta-y red and probably 2020’s Pantone Color of the Year tbh. Oh, are you suddenly thirsty?!
Most likely there’s some of you out there that are turning your nose up at the fact that we’ve only listed New World shizz but we’re happy to venture east and discuss a second, older continent now. Italy, France, and Spain, oh my! First things first we cannot converse on chillable reds without paying tribute to the one that started it all- Beaujolais- the land where Gamay is king, and funk is welcome! We’re really digging Jean Foillard’s Morgon Côte du Py right now. Honestly, it’s the Madonna of wines because it’s so freaking versatile and has something for everyone. Now if you’re a show-off type and want to bring something to your showoff of a brother-in-law’s pool party, may we suggest a Austrian Zweigelt, Grignolino from Piedmont or really anything red from Rias Baixas in north eastern Spain.
We absolutely cannot wait to get crackin’ on these beautiful wines and we hope that you’re just as excited. All you need is a wine key and some ice- throw those glasses out the window- it’s summer time for Christ’s sake. Highly encouraged to drink straight from the bottle at this point! Be sure to tag us on Instagram @cellarthief next time you enjoy your chilled red. Happy drinking!