Wines for the Weekend


Labor Day weekend is upon us and many folks will be enjoying some great barbeque. Or maybe you want rotisserie chicken. Then again there is always pizza. If you don’t want to cook you might go for a nice Salad Nicoise. Regardless of what you are cooking or eating, you don’t have to sweat over the choice of wine for a great meal.

Here in South Florida we really are at the crossroads of the world’s wine-producing regions. Let me tell you about some great wines that I’m looking forward to enjoying this weekend.

wine labelIn the wine world, Spain is hot right now. Traditionally they have planted some of the world’s most famous grapes, but suddenly they are making rich, concentrated, flavorful wines from their own native, as well as some adopted, varietals. Villa Alarba Old Vines Garnacha is 100% Grenache grapes from, as the label says, old vines. The older vines produce less grapes, but put more powerful flavor into each bunch. The result is a delicious dark fruit with a hint of spice that is not heavy or overpowering, but a nice match for anything coming off the barbeque, even fish! It should be around $10.

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Another great Spanish grape is their own Tempranillo and the new release of Ercavio Roble La Mancha 2004 is made using a combination of traditional and modern methods…..spending some time in large clay amphoras known as tinajas, then aged for 5 months in a mix of French and American oak barrels. This is a full and fleshy red with plenty of ripe black cherry fruit and a long finish. This one’s for the beef! And it’s on sale for $8!

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Australia has come to the world’s attention with wines that range from $3 to some that go for $300. The Aussies are not shy about anything, and when they concentrate on Shiraz, they mean concentrate. One of the top producers in OZ are a husband and wife team, who, along with a friend, are the makers of Marquis Phillips. All of their wines are big, bold and distinctive. One of my favorites is “Sarah’s Blend” featuring mostly syrah (they call it shiraz), some Grenache and Mouvedre, and packing a huge punch. This is a big barbeque bash, thick and strong and ready to stand up to (maybe even stick to) your ribs. Should be around $14.

wine label 4Lest we forget, every state in our great Union now has wineries. As most of us in this country, grapes came from somehwere else. I hope by now that you know about Zinfandel…….and I am NOT talking pink! For years we thought Zin was a native American varietal. Recent DNA testing indicates it really is known as Primitivo and came from what is now Croatia. But that doesn’t matter. Zinfandel is our good old American cookout wine, perfect with burgers and dogs, steaks and seafood, or pasta and pizza. One of the best producers is also one of the most prolific: Ravenswood. These folks make at least 10 different zinfandels, and their Vintner’s Reserve can be found on sale for as little as $7.50. They make a nice vineyard designate called Lodi in the $10-12 range. And you can even get carried away by some of their more exotic cuvees. But you can’t go wrong.

Have a great weekend and raise a glass to the working class! Happy Labor Day!

Christopher Zoller
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