Lighter red wines can really benefit from a slight chilling to make them even more appetising on a warm summer’s evening. The best grapes to choose to chill down are those with sweet fragrant aromas, soft light tannins and a refreshing twist of acidity such as Gamay, Pinot Noir, Frappato, Cabernet Franc, Zweigelt and Mencia – to name a few.
Remember just a short 20 minutes in the fridge or 10 minutes in the ice bucket will be enough to get an even more refreshing juicy mouthfeel with your summer red. What you want is to serve it at about 10-12 degrees to bring out its best. Here are a few to try:
Nemea, Greece: AGIORGITIKO 14/27 2019 ***STAR BUY***
£12.99 / £15.99 Laithwaites
Loved the red berry fruits, plums, spice and freshness of this Agiorgitiko from the Peloponnese with hints of vanilla from short 6 months in seasoned oak. Its moderate alcohol at 12% also makes it ideal for a summer evening chill down.
Balaton, Hungary: KEKFRANKOS 2021 Fiend
£8.85 The Wine Society
From the same grape as Austria’s Blaufrankisch, this Kekfrankos (as it is known in Hungary) is a beautifully pure fresh example from the shores of freshwater rift Lake Balaton. It’s like drinking a light raspberry and cherry coulis with sprinkles of pepper; light juicy red which tastes even fresher from the icebucket.
Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy: PINOT NERO 2020 Tunella
£14.50 Corney & Barrow
From the far north east of Italy close to the Slovenian border, the Zorzettig family converted from local to international varieties like Pinot Noir. A light juicy red berry-fruited elegant wine with soft supple tannins.
Vittoria, Sicily: FRAPPATO DI VITTORIA BELL’ASSAI 2019 Donnafugata
£23 Valvona & Crolla; Vinvm; Loki Wine
Soft juicy red made from Sicily’s native light bodied Frappato grape from one of Sicily’s finest producers, Donnafugata. This has fragrant violets and roses with sweet red berry fruits and smooth soft tannins – suit those who normally love Pinot Noir.
Burgenland, Austria: ZWEIGELT 2021 Sepp Moser
Heady perfume of ripe cherries, soft spicy palate with no oak used. Grapes are grown using biodynamic viticulture – this is a handcrafted Zweigelt from the southern part of Neusiedlersee where Zweigelt gives its brightest juiciest fruits.
Beaujolais, France: FLEURIE COTE DES LABOURONS 2021 Pardon & Fils
£11.99 Majestic Wine
The Fleurie ‘Cru’ in Beaujolais is a great choice for a more fragrant delicate style of Gamay. Pardon’s example from acclaimed Cote des Labourons is beautifully ripe with soft silky smooth texture.
Loire, France: SAUMUR CHAMPIGNY LES VILLAISES 2021 Caves de Saumur ***STAR BUY***
£13.50 Corney & Barrow
Smooth silky version of Cabernet Franc from a tiny named vineyard on the site of an ancient Roman villa. The chalky soils give it such freshness. Ripe raspberry fruits with cassis undertones.
Elgin, South Africa: THE FLEDGE PINOT NOIR 2020
£17.99 / £19.99 Laithwaites
Sweeter styles of Pinot Noir work best with chilling and their pretty aromas will be enhanced with the cooling. This small batch hand-crafted little beauty from cool climate Elgin shone out like a beacon at a recent tasting with overt cherry fruits.
Etna, Sicily: ETNA ROSSO 2019
Etna’s local grapes Nerello Mascalese & Nerello Cappuccio can produce quite earthy formidable examples, but this is so easy to enjoy with its mellowness, soft silkiness, juicy red fruits and minerally length. Great value for Etna Rosso – well done Lidl.
Veneto, Italy: BARDOLINO LE FRAGHE 2021
£11.95 The Wine Society
In the Adige valley near Lake Garda, Matilde Poggi makes this enchanting light red. Whilst the grapes used are local Corvina and Rondinella, used locally to make Amarone, this wine actually reminds me of crunchy ripe cherry and cranberry-fruited reds from Cabernet Franc.
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand: PINOT NOIR 2020 Sileni
£13.30 Great Grog
Hawkes Bay on the east coast of North Island is not an obvious destination for Pinot Noir, but this is very good value if you like your Kiwi Pinots on the lighter side. It has just enough cherries and berries, creamy soft light tannins and mellowness – with added juiciness and refreshing acidity to the fore if chilled in the fridge.
Bierzo, Spain: CUATRO PASOS BIERZO MENCIA 2021 Bodegas Martin Codax
£13.49 / £14.99 Laithwaites
Smells of leather and red cherries, the palate is so soft and smooth – but with a refreshing bite of acidity to finish which is enhanced with a quick chill – made by top Spanish winemaker Katia Alvarez
By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 10 June 2023
Join Rose’s Escorted Wine Tour to South America 29 January – 10 February 2024 www.rosemurraybrown.com