Province wine columnist James Nevison.
Jason Payne / PNG
James Nevison offers up some seasonally-appropriate reds to whet your whistleAdmittedly, by the time late May rolls around, wine-wise I’m generally deep into rosé. As in rosé is the darkest shade likely getting poured in to my glass.There are all hues of white wines in my glass as well, to be sure, but that’s a topic for another column!That said, recent hosting duties had me contemplating seasonally-appropriate reds given the guests’ taste preferences. Truth be told, it was a good exercise in wine pairing, as there certainly is a canon of summer-ready reds.Savian Winemaker 2016 Cabernet Franc, Italy ($18.49, #4432)In short, a summer-savvy red dances across the tongue without bogging the taste experience down. This is not the time to bear hug the palate — it’s more about tickling the tastebuds. Which of course turns into a treatise on certain grapes, after all not all cultivars can walk the fine line of robust flavour and fresh structure. But Cabernet Franc certainly can, especially when it hails from the unexpected northern reaches of Italy’s Venezia region. Savian’s Cab Franc brings a genial blend of smoky berry and herby aromas to a plush yet elegant style overall. Good balance and nicely integrated oak make this an enticing — albeit vivacious — summer-ready red ripe to pair with grilled taco feasts and charcuterie-laden picnic dinners.Bottom line: B+, Plush but structuredEric Texier 2017 Chat Fou, France ($24.99, #416198)Indeed the “crazy cat,” or chat fou wine may seem like a wild idea at first, but in the glass it is all classy red for the summer! A red blend from “artisanal and natural” Côtes du Rhône-based vigneron Eric Texier, the 2017 vintage of Chat Fou brings together the classic red Rhône grape varieties of Grenache, Cinsault, and Carignan with a 10 per cent splash of white Chasselas (all organic or biodynamic-grown). Winemaking adheres to a minimalist process, with spontaneous fermentation followed by unfined and unfiltered bottling, and minimal sulphite addition. The end result is an elegant and fresh, lighter-bodied red with great elegance and mineral notes. Pair with barbecue all night long.Bottom line: B+, Easygoing eleganceCatena 2016 High Mountain Vines Malbec, Argentina ($23.99, #478727)Pushing the robust boundaries of summer-worthy reds, we alight on Catena’s High Mountain Vines Malbec. Fair enough, Malbec is more-often scene as a plush and bold wine, ready to warm the cockles and palate alongside cold-month comfort meals. Which it certainly can be, but there is also a crop of elegant, fresher style Malbecs. In this cohort alights Catena’s HMV. As the name suggests, the grapes for this Malbec come from high-altitude estate vineyards (located at heights ranging from 920 to 1,450 meters above sea level), and in this cooler vintage the geography lends this stylish red a smooth but structured stance, with nicely integrated oak and an elegant kiss of a finish.Bottom line: B, Like a wine marinade for the tastebudsThe Swirl: Tofino Food and Wine FestivalReturning for its 17th year, the annual Tofino Food and Wine Festival is set to take place June 7 to 9. Featuring the signature Grazing in the Gardens event along with a myriad of luncheons, winemaker dinners, and cocktail parties, the Tofino Food and Wine Festival showcases local culinary talent alongside bottles from B.C. wineries, cider houses, breweries, and distillers. For complete details and tickets head to tofinofoodandwinefestival.com. Contact James: @hadaglass