The summer weather has been a little damper than usual. Nonetheless, the grills are firing up and the July 4th festivities are upon us. What wines are you planning on serving for your party or gathering? For this national holiday my choices, as usual, are all American. Check out these delicious reds for under $20.
Before delving into my selection of wines, here is a little background on the importance of the U.S. wine market and on U.S. wine production.
The United States continues to be the largest wine consuming country in the world, both in terms of volume and value. Wine consumption has been growing steadily for 19 consecutive years. The United States is also the fourth largest wine producing country in the world (after Italy, France and Spain). As expected, California still reigns and accounts for 90% of all wine produced. However, as I have written many times before, wine is now produced in each and every single state in the US.
As interstate wine shipping laws become more open, it is becoming increasingly easy for us to enjoy wines from all over the country.
While I could have scoured out some of the more obscure and unusual wines from around the country, I decided that July 4th gatherings are really all about having fun and keeping it simple. Therefore I kept my selection to wines that are widely available, and of course that are good value. My price limit was $20.
Delicious American Reds Under $20
- 2011 Handcraft Petite Sirah, California, $12 – Deep, almost opaque in color. Fairly
seductive toasty nose – vanilla, wild black and blue plummy and berry fruit
aromas. Richly flavored with über-ripe black fruit, freshly ground coffee beans
and spice flavors and the toasty notes follow through. Plump, fleshy textured.
- 2011 Charles & Charles Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah
Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington, $13 – Deep crimson in color. Fragrant, lifted nose of wildflowers, black raspberry, wild strawberry – lots of youthful primary fruit –
cherry compote, hints of sweet smoke and crushed macaroons. Juicy with a nimble texture,
plenty of bright cherry fruit flavors persist with a touch of exotic citrus. It
has a refreshing, fruity finish. Made by the gregarious duo Charles Bieler and
- 2010 Beckmen Vineyards, Cuvée le Bec, Santa Ynez Valley, $19 – A delicious Rhône blend of Grenache, Syrah. Mourvèdre
and Counoise. Rich nose of warm spices, jammy red fruit, clove and licorice.
Round and smooth, the wine is richly flavored on the palate. Supple tannins and
a lingering juicy finish. Biodynamic and 100% hand farmed.
- 2011 Greystone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, California,
$12 – Youthful crimson
colored. Ripe nose of jammy forest fruits, candied raspberry, sweet spice,
licorice and hints of toasted marshmallow and creamy red cherry pie. Nicely juicy
and refreshing, this is a simple and easy-drinking wine but well made with
plenty of flavor.
- 2010 Quivira Zinfandel, Dry Creek
Valle, Sonoma, $19 – July 4th always have to have at least one ‘Zin’!
This one has an intense nose of wild bramble fruit, ultra ripe but bright and
lifted with hints of pepper, spice and underbrush. Supple texture, nicely
fleshy but agile, with just the right amount of supporting tannin. Made from
80% Zinfandel with a touch of Petite Sirah, Carignane, Cabernet Sauvignon and
- 2011 Educated Guess Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, $19 - Deep ruby in color, Attractive
aromas of bright black fruit – cassis, plum with hints of toasty vanilla, clove
and anise. Nice lift to the nose. Flavorful, with plenty of black fruit, smoke
and clove flavors following through across the palate. Tannins are sufficiently
firm but also smooth. Longer finish than expected.
- 2010 Qupé Syrah, Central Coast, California, $16 – This wine has long been a house
favorite of ours. Never disappoints. Packed with flavor. It shows, blackberry,
wild plums and peppery notes, nicely integrated oak and a lovely savory gamey
note. Richly textured with a smooth rounded mouth feel and a long finish.
- 2011 Jekel Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, $18 – Mid-crimson in color, intense nose of black cherry, spice, butterscotch and hints of smoke. Bright, refreshing with plenty of juicy cherry fruit flavors, nuances of warm spice, toast and coffee. Moderate length.
(Images: Mary Gorman-McAdams)