Reds for the BBQ that won’t bust your budget

With barbeque season in full swing, it’s time to pick up a few bottles of affordable red wines to have on hand for casual sipping – wines that won’t bust your budget.

We don’t generally think of our own BC Vintners’ Quality Alliance approved reds as everyday affordables.  But with a surplus of grapes that has been slowly accumulating over the last three or four years, prices have flattened out …and that just may continue for a while.

Tough to beat the price-to-quality, bang-for-the-buck rations when expert-approved wines from Andrew Peller are being sold around $8.00. 50 Peaks Red (666693) $8.10 is a dusky Cabernet-styled blend, that opens up with some peppery red berry fruit aromas that slide into blackcurrant and end with light notes of  liquorice and sage.  Perfect for pairing with pork ribs slowly smoked over the barbeque!

Marinades and barbeque sauces spice up the simple, almost caramelized favours of grilled meats.  Way down south in Argentina, beef is a staple. Carne Asada is specifically beef, usually skirt steak, flank steak or flap steak, grilled and served as slices.  What could suit this dish better than and inexpensive Argentine red wine?

Definitely one of the best buys from the Argentine, Pampas del Sur Shiraz Malbec (767665) $8.70 is a deep, rich red in colour, showcasing aromas and flavours of spicy sweet blackberry, cassis, raspberry and sweet licorice with nuances of leather, cumin, vanilla and dark chocolate. Lush and jammy with restrained acidity and spicy tannins, it offers dynamite everyday value!!

Many savvy wine lovers discovered the incredible opportunities in affordable quality red wines from Portugal and Spain.  With international investment improving techniques and bringing in state of the art equipment, there are some real bargains coming to us from the Iberian Peninsula.

Medium bodied and seriously quaffable, Jana Cabernet Sauvignon (898353) $9.00 from Catalunya is an excellent entry level introduction to these inexpensive reds.  Smoky aromas and flavours of plum and blackcurrant complement any grilled meat off the barbeque.  Peppery tannins tease the taste buds in the lingering finish.

From Jumilla – one of the fastest rising regions in modern Spanish winemaking – Pasico Monastrell Shiraz (536664) $10.45 blends Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre) and Shiraz (aka Syrah) grapes into a mouth-filling red that oozes black cherry and plum fruit that just keeps coming on before sliding into sage and savoury spices.  This would be perfect with New York steak!

Italy has long been a source of amazingly supple medium bodied red wines.  ‘New World’ winemaking techniques have refined these traditional wines, focussing the fruit, smoothing out the rough edges.  Careful exploration reveals amazing values!

From the Rubicone region of Emilia-Romagna in central Italy,  Nespolino Sangiovese Merlot (520833) $10.49 features subtle hints of cherry and violet, typical of Sangiovese, together with the ‘bouquet garni’ herbs – bay, thyme, parsley, basil and rosemary – as well as dark chocolate notes from ripe Merlot grapes.

Chile’s red wines run the gamut of price and quality.  From under $10 all the way to $150 blockbusters, there is value at every price level.  Quality, complexity and intensity rise as the cost increases.  But the inexpensive red wines of Chile are just as tough to beat as our own affordable Okanagan reds.

Luis Felipe Edwards Merlot (413534) $11.25 is a straightforward fruit-driven Merlot from the Luis Felipe Edwards winery in Chile. It is seductively smooth with ripe strawberry and cherry fruit and a little soft – almost sweet – kiss of vanilla from the restrained use of new oak. Medium bodied, this would pair well with barbequed chicken!

Sometimes, though, affordable is not quite what you want. Knocking it up a notch but staying in Chile, the current vintage of Vina San Pedro 1865 (139683) $21.99 received 92 points from The Wine Spectator’s James Suckling. With an intensely powerful bouquet of ripe red cherries, plums and an intriguing hint of blueberries, in addition to blackcurrant blended with notes of dark chocolate, mocha and cedar, this would benefit from an hour of decanting… or a year or two of aging in the cellar.

Whatever you choose for your barbeque, don’t let these wines get too warm.  With the summer sun beating down on your deck a little chilling can go a long way. Bon appetit!

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