Growing respect for lighter style red wines

Bridlewood Estate Winery 2012 Pinot Noir (left) and Louis Jadot 2011 Combe Aux Jacques Beaujolais...

Bridlewood Estate Winery 2012 Pinot Noir (left) and Louis Jadot 2011 Combe Aux Jacques Beaujolais Villages. (Handout)

Christopher Waters, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:43 AM ET

One of the most beautiful things about wine is that it comes in so many shapes and sizes, from a multitude of varieties and vineyards in far-flung regions around the world, that there’s bound to be something suitable for anyone with an interest.

What is curious about fermented grape juice, however, is how some varieties or styles are considered outcasts and others celebrated as stars by so-called experts.

Case in point: Lighter style red wines, especially those produced from Gamay Noir or Barbera, are soundly dismissed by lovers of SUV-sized Cabernet, Shiraz and Malbec. A recent example of this affliction happened on Twitter this week when New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov posted a link to a column singing the praise of Beaujolais.

“This wine appeals directly to the soul,” Asimov said of the Gamay-based reds from the French region that he clearly holds dear. “But if you pay close attention, it offers a lot to think about as well.”

Retribution came swiftly.

“Beaujolais?! Sorry,” sniffed one snarky Twitterer. “I don’t drink water!”

Such is the all too prevalent “bigger is better” mindset that all red wines need to be robust, concentrated, blockbuster styles. Elegant means watery. Refreshing means under-ripe. Soulful means wimpy.

Certainly not all Beaujolais or other lighter style reds are soulful, elegant and deliciously refreshing. But a good many are, and as we anticipate warmer days ahead, they can do yeomen’s’ work as patio, picnic and party wines. They can be plunged into an ice bucket to beat the heat or sipped out of a jam jar or red Solo cup without losing their aura of respectability.

Winding my way through New Zealand’s wine regions earlier this year, I came to enjoy how many winemakers referred to their lighter Pinot Noirs as summer reds, marrying the style of wine to the season where they’re best appreciated.

To be sure, wine lovers aren’t likely to embrace every possible style and grape variety available. But can you seriously dismiss an entire section of the wine store because it doesn’t appeal to you personally? You certainly need not buy any, but other folks might just love the object of your aversion. Drink and let drink.

Asimov’s response to his cyber-critic? “More for the rest of us.”

Wines of the Week:

**** Bridlewood Estate Winery 2012 Pinot Noir, Monterey County, California, United States

ON $19.95 (361824)

Monterey County's typically cool, foggy climate combined with the cool 2012 growing season gave Bridlewood Estate Winery the raw materials to craft this ripe and supple Pinot Noir. Oak-derived vanilla and butterscotch notes nicely accent its concentrated sweet fruit flavours. A touch of residual sweetness gives this generous, balanced red mass appeal.

***1/2 Louis Jadot 2011 Combe Aux Jacques Beaujolais Villages, Burgundy, France

BC $21.99 (469924) | AB $20 | MB $17.91 (469924) | ON $17.95 (365924)

The juicy appeal of the Gamay grape is evident here in this medium-bodied, mildly tannic red. Bright fruit flavours and a vibrant acidity make this a solid option for warm weather sipping, especially when served slightly chilled.


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