Big wine country: 13 reds to match with BBQ, pasta, pizza

BV Rutherford

BV Rutherford

With the grilling season officially launched this past Memorial Day weekend on barbecues all over the U.S., it’s time to venture into big wine country. It’s a diverse one, too. In tasting some 50 candidates over the past few months, we Tweeted about our best finds and then narrowed the list to a baker’s dozen for this blog. We have wines from different countries and varietals, listed in order of price, from low to high, all purchased at different stores and warehouse clubs in Southern California. Prices can vary, of course, but these should be good benchmarks.

  • Great value Spanish Monastrell ’12 Enrique Mendoza La Tremando $10. Peppery, pomegranate, plum nose; mid-body; good flavor; balanced. w/pasta
  • Syrah Paso Rhone blend ’10 Hearthstone Lodestone $12. (55 Syrah 43 Grenache) Gamey, peppery nose; mid-body; good fruit; semi-chewy. w/pasta
  • Shiraz Powerful Barossa Valley pizza wine ’12 Tait Ball Buster $14. Ripe grape/prune nose (15.5 alc.); big body (78% Shiraz); chewy but not hard. BBQ wine.
  • Good $14 Cotes du Rhone ’14 Roi de la Colline. Grenache nose; strawberries; light-mid body; good fruit; semi-chewy finish. w/pizza, pasta
  • Food-friendly Paso Zinfandel ’13 Opolo $15. Floral, light jam nose; balanced; good tannins; mid-body; long smooth finish.
  • Big Russian River Valley Syrah ’12 Trione River Road Ranch $16. Mint, prune (14.5 alc.) nose; tannic; long chewy finish. A little hot. BBQ/Rib Wine.
  • Good $18 Napa Cab ’13 Trailhead. Dark garnet; herbaceous, mint nose; mid-big body; good tannins; some style; long Cabernet finish. w/beef
  • Big rib/BBQ Mendoza red ’13 Norton Privada $18. Mint/cocoa/leather nose (40 Malbec, 30 Merlot, 30 Cabernet); chewy; big fruit; hot finish (14.5 alc.)
  • Stylish $19 Napa Cabernet ’14 Oberon. Light mint, varietal nose; light oak; mid-body; soft tannins; balanced fruity finish. w/grilled meat
  • Consistent Rutherford Cabernet ’13 Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) $19. Napa nose (mint, black currants); mid-big body; smooth tannins; semi-lush Cabernet finish.
  • Big Aussie Rib/BBQ wine Molly Dooker ’14 Cabernet Maitre d’ $22. Berry/wood nose; thick; grapey; chewy; one dimensional; hot finish (15.5 alc.).
  • Solid under $25 Napa Cabernet ’12 Charles Krug. Herbaceous Napa Cab nose; mint; berries; good fruit; balanced tannins; semi-chewy finish. w/beef
  • Big Napa Zinfandel ’13 Brown Estate $34. Mint, spice, ripe grape nose (14.5 alc.), wood; jammy; long chewy finish. w/beef


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