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Wine Without Pretense: Its grill time; devour red meats with red wine
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SECOND WINE OF THE MONTH

The wine: Santa Rita Triple C Red Blend 2008.

The grapes: 55 percent Cabernet franc, 30 percent cabernet sauvignon, 15 percent xarmenere.

The source: Maipo Valley, Chile.

The verdict: I’ve been leaning toward Argentina as my fave source of South American red wines in recent months. That’s until I received a powerhouse quartet of red wines from Chile, with this one included. I’ll write more about the others in the future, but today I wanted to focus on this crimson king. Santa Rita is one of Chile’s premier wine producers, putting out quality wines since 1880. Their everyday wines are not “everyday”; they are high-quality, fine value wines. But the Triple C and its brethren are above that. This wine will roll your socks down around your ankles and make you howl at the moon. It’s that good. Full of rich fruit flavors and redolent of the vanilla oakiness that comes around from 17 months in new French oak barrels, this is a stunning wine that cries out for hearty red meat. The rest of this column is devoted to red wines for the meat on your grill or out of your oven. I put this one at the top of the list. Ain’t cheap, but is it a beauty!

The price: About $40.

Gentlemen, masochists that we are, we struggle out into the North Georgia summer heat and humidity to battle with that masculine dragon — the grill.

Women have enough sense to stay inside when the weather is as gruesome as it is these days.

But guys? We know. Whether it’s a battalion of burgers or a squadron of steaks, we of the testosterone tribe just cannot resist going forth to whip the charcoal or propane into doing our bidding. And, of course, we need the right wine to make the whole sweaty project work.

If you don’t want to wade through the rest of the column — but please do — just grab a bottle of my Santa Rita Triple C Red Blend 2008 (read more online at www.gainesvilletimes.com) and you’re done. But if you’re a curious individual, keep reading. There’s more.

But first a brief treatise on why we drink red wines with grilled meats.

I’m a casual kind of wino. I really do believe whatever wine you like is a good wine for you. But chemically speaking, dry red wines, such as the above and following, simply combine better in the mouth with red meat. Having said that, I’ll move along with the list.

Trivento Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 — It’s a well-balanced, dry red from Argentina’s Mendoza region and it’s not a Malbec. “Trivento” refers to the three winds that sweep through the high-altitude vineyards. For the price tag, this wine gets hands-on care. Tannins are there, but muted. There is a power to this big red that might soften with a few years in the bottle, but it’s almost ready to drink now. About $14.

The Federalist Zinfandel 2011 — Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley produces some of the most wonderful zinfandels you’ll ever run over your taste buds. This one is no exception. A typical zin spiciness blends with rich flavors of dark red fruit. Aging in some new oak barrels spills a tad of traditional oak aromas into the wine. This one definitely is ready to drink now. About $30.

Las Rocas Garnacha 2011 — Spanish reds are among the best values today. This one is made in Spain’s Calatayud region from Garnacha grapes, which are called Grenache elsewhere in the world. It’s a little rough on the first sip, but mellows out especially with food. The fruit comes from vines 30-50 years old, meaning the fruit flavors will be intense. Think about rich, ripe blackberries as you sip this lovely red with a juicy burger. About $16.

Columbia Winery Columbia Valley Merlot 2012 — Too many folks regard Washington state as a white wine producing area. But Washington produces — a bit too quietly, I think — some dynamite red wines. Here’s one whose fuse you’ll enjoy lighting. It’s 85 percent merlot with some syrah and cabernet sauvignon blended in. The result of this judicious blending is an elegant, yet mouth-filling wine. Color is impressive, with purple tones. And it just tastes great. About $16.

Now a word from your regularly scheduled wino. If you treat these red wines properly, you will enjoy them more than if you just pop the cork, or unscrew the cap, and begin to swill.

Please make sure you put any of these reds, or any reds for that matter, into the fridge for 20-25 minutes to bring them to optimum drinking temperature. Yes, I said red wines into the fridge. Trust me. It’s the right thing to do.

Now, get back to the grill and continue to sweat.

Randall Murray is a Gainesville-area resident. Have a question about wine? He can be contacted at murrwine@aol.com. His column appears on the first Wednesday of the month and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.

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