Get fired up over two typically North American reds and an elegantly Old World white, all in the $20 to $30 range (in Ontario)
When picking up vino for a backyard barbecue, you want bold, fruity wines that won’t be bullied by the smoky char of grilled foods. You also need to chill those reds down to cellar temperature: No one wants to drink tepid wine. Here are three excellent bottles for your next ‘cue.
St. Urbans-Hof Old Vines Riesling 2014
People who are hesitant around “sweet” wine are usually brought around by Riesling, which tempers its residual sugar with a serious jolt of acidity. Wine wonks salivate for the sort of sweet-sour tension that you find in Rieslings from Germany’s Mosel Valley, such as this dependable bottle from St. Urbans-Hof. Expect honeyed apricot aromas, tropical fruit flavours and a lip-smacking finish that goes on for minutes. Its off-dry richness makes it a perfect match to chicken and pork that have been spice rubbed, slow smoked and slathered in spicy barbecue sauce.
Henry of Pelham Old Vines Baco Noir 2014
Baco Noir is a red wine grape hybrid bred by François Baco at the end of the 19th century. Early to ripen and winter-hearty, it’s well suited to cool climate viticulture, though it’s still an esoteric choice grown mostly in Ontario, New York and Oregon. The Speck brothers planted Baco in the 1980s and ’90s on Henry of Pelham’s estate in Niagara, and their new label celebrates these old vines. If you’ve never tried Baco, it has the fruity weight of Merlot with the ripping acidity of Gamay. In this bottle, expect spicy blackberry aromas, sweet blackcurrant flavours and well-integrated oak. Chill lightly, and serve with cheeseburgers, grilled ribeyes or rosemary-rubbed lamb chops.
Hitching Post Hometown Pinot Noir 2013
If you remember the movie Sideways – has it really been 12 years? – The Hitching Post II is where Miles would go get crunk after a long day of tasting wine. In addition to running a restaurant, Gary Hartley and Frank Ostini have been Pinot Noir specialists in the Santa Barbara area since 1979. Made from grapes grown in Los Alamos, Santa Maria and Santa Rita Hills, this SoCal red is bigger and fruitier than any Burgundy, but it still has plenty of Pinot character. Give it a swirl and take in aromas of cherries, beets and smoke. It’s a medium-bodied red with vibrant acidity and a beguiling hint of bitterness of the finish. Pour with cedar-planked salmon, grilled portobello sandwiches or rare beef tenderloin.