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Wines for BBQ Night

With Fourth of July upon us I wanted to choose wines that would pair well with BBQ foods. When I think burgers and steaks on the grille I want big reds with fruit tannin and whites that have a fuller mid-palate with a backbone of acidity.

Tierra Divina Vineyards “Reds”

This wine begins in some of the oldest vineyards in California. The Carignan vines are 130+ years old, Zinfandel is 90+ years old, and just a splash of a youngster Petite Sirah (only 50+ years old) is added for color and depth. The wine is fermented in steel, and there is a minimum use of oak in the cellar to keep the flavors and aromas pure fruit. Winemaker, Patrick Campbell moved west after graduating from Harvard and joined a Buddhist community on top of Sonoma Mountain and found a vineyard called, Laurel Glen.

He bought, farmed, and later expanded it to make cult wine before finally selling it. At this point, he expanded his interests into Lodi and ancient vineyards in the foothills of the Andes in Argentina. He actually happened to be the first North American winemaker to take advantage of the high desert-like climate of Mendoza. This is where he sources fruit for the Tierra Divina Vineyards ‘Reds’ using all sustainable farming and low impact winemaking. The blend exudes a bouquet of dark berries, herbs, and strawberry fruit tape and has an opulent palate full of cassis, raisin, tart cherry, and herbal tea.

Foxen Chenin Blanc

“To make great wine, it starts in the vineyard. You can’t make excellent wine if you don’t have high-quality grapes.” This quote said by winemaker Bill Wathen explains Foxen’s philosophy and style. The “Foxen Boys”, Dick and Bill, established the winery in 1985 and their focus has always been on small production, sustainably farmed, terroir driven wines using minimal intervention techniques in the cellar. This current release of their 50-year-old vine Chenin Blanc is one of the more anticipated alternative whites coming out of Santa Barbara each year. The wine shows light honey brittle, tangerine, yellow apple, pear, and yellow raisin. On the palate it exudes peach pit character, sweet floral, and spice nuances with an intensely structured finish. These boys really know how to make some serious juice.

Mazzocco Dry Creek Zinfandel

Zinfandel is an excellent pairing with barbecue – it’s deep jammy fruit and significant acidity practically mimic a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce itself – and the ideal terroir, the Burgundy of Zin, lies in the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma, and Mazzocco’s is among the best examples. This wine has a special place for me as it was one of the vineyards I visited on my first wine trip! I can remember trying Zin after Zin in Dry Creek and almost calling it quits when we decided to drive onward and up a hill onto Lytton Springs Road.

Just on top of the hill perched Mazzocco winery and tasting room with wall to wall glass windows to look over all of Dry Creek and their estate vineyards. Mazzocco had no distribution outside of their tasting room when I visited three years ago so I was ecstatic when I found they had finally made their way to Florida and into your Wine of the Month!

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