I have written in recent weeks about white and rosé wines for summer sipping to beat the heat. But I still crave the character of red wine, so this time I focus on reds that can be enjoyed chilled.
By chilled I mean 50-55 degrees. These are young, ready-to-drink with higher acidity, softer tannins, moderate alcohol, and little or no oak to bring the refreshing fruit flavors to the forefront.
There are many options from just about every wine region. As I searched through my sample notes, though, I realized Italy was heavily represented. So, that's where I focus.
Chianti, a wine with many affordable and elegant styles, is a good place to start. Mostly sangiovese, these wines are fresh and tangy with cherry and forest-like notes, and sometimes white pepper and a hint of anise.
- 2015 Badia a Coltibuono "Cetamura" ($11) - This entry level Chianti is typically fresh, accessible and ideal for daily drinking.
- 2015 Castello del Trebbio Chianti Superiore ($15) - This wine from a 12th century estate in Rufina offers nicely balanced earthy and fresh fruit nuances.
- 2014 Selvapiana Chianti Rufina ($17) - With a history dating to medieval times, this organic winery has produced a juicy, minty and woodsy wine.
- 2013 Castello di Albola Chianti Classico ($19) - In the Radda district for about a thousand years, today it is consistently one of Chianti's best values.
- 2014 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico ($20) - Top notch organically grown and vinified grapes from the 11th century "Abbey of the Good Harvest" in Gaiole.
In the Veneto, corvina (usually combined with other local grapes) is used to make the ultra-light Bardolino and the more characterful Valpolicella. The Alpine region of Alto Adige, best known for distinctive whites, also sources light, fresh reds.
- 2014 Tommasi "Rafael" Valpolicella ($19) - From near Verona, fresh and elegant but with traditional notes of spices and earth.
- 2015 Scaia Corvina ($12) - A special project of Tenuta Sant' Antonio, this 100 percent corvina wine is brisk and bold.
- 2016 Castel Sallegg "Bischofsleiten" ($14) - From the Alto Adige/Südtirol and the indigenous grape shiava, this single vineyard wine is typically light, low tannin and effusively fruity.
- 2015 Peter Zemmer Pinot Noir ($18) - Also from Alto Adige, this is soft, flavorful and elegant.
From the south, three wines from Le Veli (who renovated a historic property in Puglia) made from certified organic native varieties.
- 2015 "Contrade" Negroamaro ($10) - Produced in collaboration with select local grape growers, it shows surprising elegance and structure.
- 2015 "Orion" Salento ($13) - From primitivo (a relative of zinfandel), one of the primary grapes of the region, this is exuberant and lightly spicy.
- 2014 "Passamante" Salice Salentino ($13) - Featuring the region's other principal grape, negroamaro, it's spicy and characterful.
Finally, two wines from either end of the boot.
- Lambrusco from Emilia-Romagna - not the cheap, sweet sparkling wine but the refreshing, juicy and balanced one from a caring producer like Cleto Chiarli, whose nonvintage Vecchia Modena Premium ($15) will cool even the warmest summer days.
- Etna Rosso from the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily - the 2014 Alta Mora ($24) is a fresh but velvety nerello mascalese.