Drinking Red in Summer
As the mercury climbs a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling usually becomes a Sunday afternoon staple, but a rise in the temperature doesn’t have to mean that the red varietals have to be banished to the back of the cellar. In fact, there are plenty of reds that are well suited to the Queensland summer, particularly if you are prepared to chill them slightly for half an hour before you open. And if you’re prepared to think outside the square, you don’t need to “think pink” to find a summer red. Think Cinsault, Primitivo, Grenache or Nebbiolo. Or even one of my go-to lighter reds, Pinot Noir and Gamay.
The Brockenchack Hare Hunter 2017
For Australians, Pinot Noir is the easy option. The shelves of every bottle shop are lined with options from Central Otago, Mornington Peninsula, Tasmania and even the Yarra Valley. The beauty of the style is that you don’t have to compromise the power of fruit for the softer mouthfeel. While I admire the cool climate pinot offerings, there’s a sneaky little Eden Valley Single Vineyard Pinot that I’ve taken a fancy to of late. The Brockenchack Hare Hunter 2017 is a refined type that oozes cherries and rose petal from the first sip. There’s plenty of ripe distinguished fruit through the middle but only the faintest of leafiness and peppery tannins to linger on the conclusion. Calling it “light” is perhaps a bit of a misnomer as there’s surprising depth to the juice and the 14.5% alcohol packs a punch. By pinot standards, the $35 ask is only modest so I reckon the Hare Hunter represents pretty good value. Try chilling it down to around 16 degrees and it will be an ideal partner for burnt Sunday BBQ fare.
But if you’re looking to impress your friends with your sophistication and discerning style, I’d suggest bringing out a Gamay when next entertaining on a hot summer afternoon. The Gamay grape is perhaps better known as the fruit used to make the famous Beaujolais style in France’s Loire Valley. It’s a thin-skinned fruit that can grow prolifically and is renowned for being high in acid but low in tannin. A striking characteristic of Gamay is its colour – so bright and purple in the glass that you’d swear it’s luminescent!
Eldridge Single Vineyard Gamay 2017
While it’s the French Beaujolais who enjoy the accolades, there are also some excellent examples produced from Australian soil. If it’s not the best we make, the Eldridge Single Vineyard Gamay 2017 is up there on the podium. Made by David Lloyd from fruit grown in his Red Hill (Mornington Peninsula) vineyard, the Eldridge Gamay is an industry icon. It’s a light style that finds a lovely balance between fruit and leafiness. There’s heaps of delightful cherry, plum and even cranberry characters but hint of herbaceous stemminess through the back end. At only 13.5% alcohol it doesn’t leave any heat on the back of the palate and you certainly can’t dispute the winemaker’s claim to “purity of finish”. It’s a stunning wine and has even managed to make my ordinary BBQ lamb chops seem like a Neil Perry piece de resistance.
So be brave with your reds this summer. Try something new, chill it a little but please Mum, no matter how hot it feels on the back deck, there’s no excuse for putting ice cubes in your glass of red!