Screaming good deals – Reds for the summer grill! (Cotes du Rhone and California Merlot)

The weather is getting warmer, and peoples’ palates are starting to consider summer whites and rose’, but hey, you still need some reds for those perfect summer evenings with THE GRILL!   So here are two widely available reds that should fill the role nicely, impress your friends, while not breaking the bank

Bouachon Cotes du Rhone Les Rabasieres 2012 – this wine will find its way to my summer wine stash, probably a case or more!   There is much to recommend this humble Cotes du Rhone.   Just the look of the sturdy bottle with the attractive label gives it ‘curb appeal’.  With its floral nose and muscular body, the fruit reaches deeper than expected for such an inexpensive wine.  Is it as round and complex as a good Chateauneuf du Pape?  As rustic as the best Gigondas? No, but that is ok, because hints of both Chateauneuf and Gigondas exist in this wine. The trademark rustic Rhone-grip balanced with such depth of fruit flavor give this red wine all the indicators that it is a quality Southern Rhone wine.  In some respects it might have too much character for some people – and that’s fine – more for the rest of us! When setting up the grill this summer, think about how this Bouachon Cotes du Rhone’s deep, ripe, red raspberry fruit flavors with the powerful grip and finish make it the perfect match to grilled protein (steak!) or hard and blue cheeses – not a bashful wine, don’t be bashful buying it!  (PLCB Code: 33672 Bouachon Cotes du Rhone Les Rabasieres 2012 $9.99 widely available)

Wente Family Estate Merlot Sandstone Livermore 2012 – Merlot is underrated – there, I said it!   California is always dominated by the big Cabernets with big prices, but hovering just below the Cabernet buzz is the hardworking (and much more respected in places like Bordeaux) Merlot Grape.   And when it comes to buying red wine for big events and casual parties, I often look for bargains like this one.   This Wente Family Estate Merlot has double knocks against it in the wine world – it is from Livermore, an up and coming region for sure, but not from Napa or Sonoma, AND it is Merlot, not Cabernet… These ‘knocks’ against render the Wendte Merlot undervalued in my opinion!   On top of that, 2012 was a hugely successful vintage across California, so why not give it a try?   This wine shows a number of California Merlot trademark characteristics: lush body, unobtrusive tannin, blueberry and black cherry flavors, sweet mid-palate and camphor-like flavors followed by vanilla spice in the finish.   Are you having a party with people who might be turned off by the French-ness of a Cotes du Rhone?  Buy this Merlot and watch the crowd get happy with its trademark, comfortable, California style.  This Wendte over delivers for the price!  (PLCB Code 33727 Wente Family Estate Merlot Sandstone Livermore 2012 $9.99 widely available)

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