Finding the Perfect Light Reds
Warm days and chilly nights have us seeking out the perfect transitional light red wines. Three of our favorites come from stalwarts of the natural wine world.
Summer isn’t over yet, at least not for another week. Even if summer is still here, we’ve hit the point when the sun goes down before 8 PM and there’s a noticeable chill in the air. While we’re not going to turn down a rosé, we found ourselves asking an important question recently: What should we be drinking next?
The answer, it turns out, was really quite simple. A light red. The difficulty was more in finding which ones to highlight. Light reds have been gaining transaction precisely because of their seasonal versatility and their ability to please a wide range of palettes. Who doesn’t love a fruity, low tannin, acid forward wine?
In the end, we ended up choosing some winemakers we love. These are producers who make consistently good wines while taking risks in the process. We hope you enjoy a glass or three during this most beautiful time of the year.
First up is Oregon producer Joe Swick’s Ellaguru. Swick is always known for his unusual grape choices and this 50/50 blend of Melon de Bourgogne and Counoise is no exception, though there is nothing about the taste that is unfamiliar or off putting.
In the glass, you can expect a ruby red color that is unfined and unfiltered. The initial taste on the palette is vibrant: juicy blackberry crunch intersects with a lively, racy acidity. As it opens up, fresh herbal notes build into a refreshing finish that demands you keep sipping and sipping. We felt it lost a bit of verve on its second day but even then it still had plenty of life in it. (We’re not sure you’ll be able to save the bottle for a second day, even if you tried!)
It’s been called a tater tot wine and we couldn’t agree more. If you don’t have those on, a slice of pizza or empanada would provide a similar effect.
Foradori – Teroldego Lezèr
Elisabetta Foradori is the queen of Teroldego – an Italian red grape varietal that thrives in the mountainous northern region of the country. For her first take at this light expression back in 2017, she actually used vines badly damaged by storms. It was such a hit, however, that she repeated the process in 2018 to a sold out allotment.
The varietal produces a deep red colored wine that is transparent in the sunlight. It’s hard to imagine something being juicier than the Ellaguru but this wine is, featuring raspberry notes at first with plum soon creeping in. Notes of tobacco and spice soon follow. They are not there to provide tannin structure as you might expect in a medium bodied red. Instead, they are there to soften the fruit. The finish features a wonderful sapidity that keeps you going back for more.
Lezèr is generally hard to find but if you can snag a bottle you’d be the envy of any late season BBQ.
For our last wine this week, we have Czech producer Milan Nestarec’s take on a Blaufränkisch, part of his higher end, more expensive single varietal wines that have charmed us, including the excellent Sauvignon Blanc GinTonic, which tastes deceptively like its cocktail counterpart. Super Pufft Popcorn is a more serene affair but Nestarec manages to take what we generally expect as a heavier, more tannic wine and turn it into a refreshing evening breeze.
It is the darkest wine of the bunch, deep purple when you first pour in to the glass. As you take a sip, you are transported by a mix of strawberry flavors, with hints of ripe and dried notes. A white pepper mid palette soon follows, reemerging throughout the evening. This blends harmoniously into an ethereal and long structured finish showcasing only a hint of tannins. Even as a 2016 vintage, it tastes much younger than it is.
Bring this to your next dinner party to impress your friends.