California Reds are summer friendly wines...

With the summer sun shining, it’s easy to forget that most of coastal British Columbia is situated in a rainforest. This is Canada’s Riviera. Sometimes it feels like California North. We are blessed in B.C. to have the widest selection of California wines of any province. California reds are built for summer sipping.

When it comes to easy, fruity summer drinkability at an affordable price, California Cabernet Sauvignon is hard to beat. To be labeled ‘California’, regulations require 100 per cent of the grapes to be grown in the state; to be labeled ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ – or any other specific wine grape – similar regulations require at least 75 per cent of the grapes to be of that variety.

Beringer is a well-known California wine producer making a wide range of wines in a variety of styles and price-points. Beringer’s everyday 

wines are transitioning into their own new label: Beringer Main & Vine. Almost there with the 2015 vintage, Beringer California Cabernet Sauvignon (90225) $10.99 flaunts juicy cherry-berry fruit aromas and flavours with a swish of vanilla and candied plums in the finish.

E &J Gallo is based in Modesto California. One of their newest labels in the B.C. market is Carnivor. Starting out a few years ago with a Cabernet Sauvignon clearly aimed at meat eaters, Carnivor Wines have since branched out to making a big, bold Zinfandel, too.

Made primarily from fruit from the sun-drenched Lodi, Carnivor Zinfandel (35637) $14.99 is aged in French and American oak to 

balance the deeply fruited juice. Some Cabernet Sauvignon was added for color and structure, and Merlot for a soft mouthfeel. Aromas and flavours of blackberry, plum and boysenberry slide into notes of mocha, dark chocolate, black pepper, cinnamon, vanilla and toasted almond.

Back in 1985, around a friendly game of Liar’s Dice, Tim Murphy, Dale Goode and Dave Ready decided to make their love of fine wines official. Murphy and Goode were growers who helped to pioneer grape growing in the Alexander Valley, introducing wire trellising and broad scale drip irrigation.

Take a base of 79 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, add 10 per cent merlot for soft ripe plummy fruit and two per cent Petit Verdot for spice an colour and the result is Murphy Goode Cabernet Sauvignon (905810) $20.99. Black cherry and liquorice aromas and flavours lead with dark chocolate, vanilla and a touch of toasty caramel show up in the finish.

Carneros, in both Sonoma and Napa Counties, is the region closest to San Pablo Bay and instrumental in controlling the moderated cooler climate. Acacia Vineyard’s pioneering founders – Mike Richmond and winemaker Larry Brooks – recognized the climate of the Carneros region was ideal for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir long before Carneros was designated as an official American Viticultural Area (AVA).

 

With aromas of ripe red cherry and berry fruit and soft tannins Acacia Pinot Noir (766865) $28.65 is surprisingly rich for such a lightly coloured wine – typical of many California Pinot Noirs. Cherries, berries and ripe plum flavours dominate, with sweet tea and earthy geranium and rose petal notes in the finish.

The Mettler Family has roots in the wine industry dating back to the 1770s and has been growing wine grapes in the Lodi appellation since the late 1800s when their first Lodi vineyards were planted. Their oldest vines are planted in rich, sandy loam soils.

The grapes for Mettler ‘Epicenter’ Old Vines Zinfandel (32100) $36.99 come from a 50-year old vineyard in the ‘epicenter’ of Lodi’s old vine Zinfandel district. These vines are organically and sustainably grown. Blending 85 per cent Zinfandel with 10 per cent Petite Sirah, three per cent Cabernet Franc and two per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, this is a powerful mouthful of black plum and dark berries, tobacco, cinnamon, molasses, coffee and sweet oak.

Planted in the most favourable sites in California’s Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon routinely produces deeply coloured red wines that overflow with red and black berry fruit flavours and earthy mint and leathery eucalyptus complexities.

With the generous addition of Merlot and smaller measures of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (561126) $52.60 showcases raspberry, blackberry and blackcurrant flavours over intriguing layers of mint, fresh cut tobacco and cedar.

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