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exploring wine with tim fish

At Long Last, Time for Summer Wines

After a long and nasty winter, it’s time to fire up the grill and uncork 12 Memorial Day wine values, priced at $20 or less
Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: May 24, 2017 12:00pm ET

I'm ready for summer. I'm waaay past ready. It was the wettest winter in Northern California in 122 years and a dark, chilly, mushy, brain-numbingly long winter in most of the country.

What we need is sunshine and warm breezes, tasty tunes on the speaker and the Weber smokin' up the whole neighborhood. With the Memorial Day weekend upon us, I've been deciding what to cook. I could smoke baby-back ribs or maybe a Texas brisket, and I also have a knockout Tuscan-style pork roast that's stuffed with rosemary and garlic and lemons.

Or I could keep it simple and just grill burgers. Everyone will be happy that way: kids, teens and adults. I don't fuss around a lot with my hamburgers, just salt and pepper, sometimes minced garlic or onion.

I do prefer blending different types of ground meat. Good beef is the foundation, and I'll start with ground chuck or sirloin, depending on how much fat content the other meats provide.

Frequently, I'll blend in ground lamb, but never more than a third. Lamb needs a boost in the fat department to make a juicy burger, otherwise the patties cook up like pucks on a bun.

Ground pork adds another layer of flavor and, potentially, fat. If I'm feeling a little decadent, I'll blend one-third ground chuck, one-third lamb and a third mild ground pork sausage. Makes an incredible burger.

And lest we forget the wine, I've pulled together a mixed case of reds, whites and a rosé to inspire your holiday imbibing. All of these wines are sold widely and retail for $20 or less. WineSpectator.com members can read the full reviews by clicking each link.

Whites and Rosés

14 Hands Hot to Trot White Washington 2015 (88, $10)
A bouncy kitchen-sink blend with easygoing pineapple and spice flavors.

Banfi Gavi Principessa Gavia 2015 (88 points, $16)
Rich and buttery style with soft peach and almond flavors.

Bonny Doon Vin Gris De Cigare Central Coast 2016 (88, $18)
A crisp and easygoing rosé with strawberry and watermelon flavors.

Calera Chardonnay Central Coast 2015 (89, $20)
Fresh, fruity and loaded with spice, plus lemon-lime and Asian pear.

Reds

Artezin Zinfandel Mendocino County Old Vine 2015 (88, $18)
Zesty black cherry and licorice aromas flavors.

Bodegas Campo Viejo Tempranillo Rioja 2014 (88, $13)
Supple and polished with savory black cherry flavors.

Castello Banfi Cabernet Sauvignon-Sangiovese Toscana Col di Sasso 2015 (88, $10)
A mouthful of cherry, currant and spice flavors.

Castle Rock Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2015 (88, $14)
Snappy and easygoing with strawberry and spice flavors.

Charles Smith Merlot Washington The Velvet Devil 2014 (88, $12)
Velvety and pretty currant and floral flavors.

Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley Grand Estates 2014 (91, $12)
Inviting and generous with cherry and creamy oak notes.

Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir California Vintner's Reserve 2014 (91, $20)
Offers spicy raspberry, black cherry and wilted rose notes.

St.-Cosme Côtes du Rhône 2015 (91, $16)
Ripe and vivid with boysenberry, anise and violet accents.

Daniel Sherer
Windsor, CA, USA —  May 24, 2017 12:45pm ET
Tim...nicely done! Solid wine choices and about 90% readily accessible at your local merchant and/or big box store. As for firing up the Weber, burgers are always a good choice and fan favorite. We went with fish last weekend as I grilled 1/2 inch thick swordfish, pronged holes from a fork when they came off the grill sizzling and doused with a sauce of olive oil, lemon, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes and garlic. Covered for 5 minutes under foil and then topped with fresh arugula and the leftover sauce. Popped open a chilled bottle of Roth Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc 2016...yummy!
Homer Cox
Virginia —  July 6, 2017 2:18pm ET
At $8.50 per bottle the 2014 CC Cab is good anytime of the year. Buy this by the case(s).

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