Cool September evenings are geared for grilling steaks, sausages and burgers on the grill and washing them down with big, hearty red wines.
The best values this time of year are the Cabernet Sauvignons, Old Vine Zinfandels and Malbecs, which produce juicy, savory flavors that bring out the best in grilled fare.
Over the Labor Day weekend, the Wine Goddess — my wife Mary Lee — fired up the grill (she doesn’t trust me around propane tanks), and then handed me an apron. She said I’d be grilling several sirloins, Italian sausages and a burger or two. She said the Wine Butler, Mike Pigeon, would be stopping by alone, since his wife Judy was on a vacation cruise with her girlfriend. I was challenged to select several wines for tasting by the glass. I choose three samples:
- Cline Old Vine Zinfandel 2015 from Lodi, Calif., $11.99;
- Concha y Toro’s Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Chile, $14.99;
- Trivento’s Sur Malbec 2015, Argentina, $12.99.
The Cline Zinfandel exhibited a lot of pluck. Dark purple in the glass — a sign of supreme freshness — the Cline opened up with “sweet” aromatics of raspberry, cherry and strawberry fruits. These traits were equally recognizable on the palate, along with vanilla spice from an adept touch of oak aging. Smooth and pleasing, the Zinfandel finished with stamina. It proved to be a fitting complement to the Italian sausage which I lathered with grilled peppers and onions.
Cline Family Cellars has been in business sine 1982, earning a solid reputation with Old Vine Zinfandel grapes grown in vineyards dating back to 1942, 1962 and 1968. The mature vines produce low yield of distinctively enhanced fruit. Winemakers Charlie Tsegeletos and Tom Gendell can be proud of their efforts in this quality wine.
The Wine Goddess called Cline Zin “rich and exciting.” The Wine Butler said he was surprised by the price, saying Cline Zinfandel punches above its weight.
Grapes for the Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon are grown close to Chile’s major rivers which flow from mountains in the Colchagua Valley, hence the Serie Riberas (Riverbank Series) brand. Concha y Toro, Chile’s leading winery, prides itself on bringing out the best in the mineral rich soils that give life to the riverbank vines. This Cabernet Sauvignon is a product of that unique terroir: succulent dark fruit flavors accented by a layer of espresso and subtle vanilla oakiness. The full-bodied texture moves forward on a smooth frame. I really liked the pace of this wine; it kept building on the palate to a long finish. It was a delicious refreshment with the sirloin.
Trivento’s Amado Sur Malbec from Argentina features the gentle heat of Mendoza’s sloping Andes Mountains foothills. It contains a trace of Bonarda (color) and Syrah (peppery spice) which adds to the overall appealing structure. You can drink this with any kind of grilled meats, even lamb, or just savor its brambly fruit flavors. The Wine Goddess enjoyed Amado Sur’s velvety palate. When I told her that Amado Sur’s translation in Spanish is “Southern Love”, she replied that Trivento is smart to put such feeling into a bottle of wine.
All the aforementioned wine are available at most local wine outlets and in New Hampshire State Wine Stores.