Wine Column: Red Wines During the Warmer Seasons

By Bennet Bodenstein

A short time ago I wrote about the excellent and affordable chardonnay wines from Josh Cellars while, as the modern expression goes, casting their equally excellent red wines “under the bus.” I suspect that I was enraptured by the warm spring weather and assumed that the red wines of winter were being pushed aside in favor of the cooler white wines of the warmer seasons.  I had overlooked that there are many calls for red wines in the warmer seasons too, among them were the barbecued meats. I will rectify that misstep now.

Josh Cellars Paso Robles Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($22.99). The region in and around the city of Paso Robles, which borders the Pacific Ocean and is located between Los Angeles and San Francisco has, in recent years, become the source of exceptional red wines.  It is from this region that the Josh Cellars vintners drew their grapes for this wine. The Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon glorifies the variety and presents the best features of a cabernet sauvignon, pardon the pun, on a silver platter. The wine is full-bodied with a deep, violet color and displays the flavors and aromas of blueberry,  plum and blackberry which are augmented by suggestions of mocha, cedar, oak and vanilla in the background adding extra layers of complexity to this very excellent wine. Serve this wine with meat, hearty pasta dishes, full-flavored cheeses, roast pork and anything else that goes with barbecue. 

Josh Cellars Hearth Cabernet Sauvignon ($17.99). Another wine on the same theme. In this wine, the grapes were sourced from vineyards at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. This wine takes a different turn in the flavor and aroma department. The wine is resplendent with the aromas and  flavors of baked plums, cherries, blackberries and cranberries which all follow through to the finish which is long and memorable. The wine is a bit different from the rest as it has a higher than expected alcohol content of 14.5 %. It is common practice in the wine industry that if a wine, because high sugar in the grapes, results in a higher than “expected” alcohol content  to send the wine out to have the alcohol reduced, a process that winemakers frown upon as it possibly could affect the flavor and aroma of the wine. 

Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon ($22.99). Take a well made cabernet sauvignon and give it three months of extra aging in recently emptied bourbon barrels and you have a masterpiece of winemaking. To eliminate a question which is often asked about wines aged in bourbon barrels, the answer is that there is no increase in the alcohol content of the wine. What Bourbon barrel aging does impart is a warmth and softness with just the barest hint of the flavor of bourbon which melds beautifully with the flavors and aromas of blackberry, plum, cherry. chocolate, vanilla, coffee and a suggestion of spice. This is another wine that will nicely accompany anything that can be grilled or served or as an aperitif when entertaining guests or when reading a good book.

Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon ($17). While I was sampling the Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon I also tasted a very nice cabernet sauvignon from Australia. This too is a wine that is true to the variety while not being priced in the stratosphere. Cherry is the featured flavor and aroma followed very closely by summer berries and a slight amount of oak in the background. The tannins, that component of a red wine that produces the dry sensation in the cheeks, are held in check and combine with the rest of the elements in the wine to produce a velvety smooth mouth feel. I found this to be an excellent wine that can accompany a very broad spectrum of summer meat dishes and should not be relegated solely to be served with the heavy red meats.