At the time of writing, the view from my window is of a grey, chilly, rain-filled sky. With luck, you are currently looking at blue, warm, and sunny. But this summer, who can ever guess? There is a saying in Wyoming, a state notorious for its rapidly changing meteorological conditions: “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes”. Wyoming seems to have come to Britain for its summer holidays.
Such unpredictability calls for wine buying strategies covering all eventualities, from barbecue to braised brisket. Normally, at this time of year, we gravitate towards light-bodied reds that can, if you choose, be served lightly chilled. Beaujolais fits that bill perfectly, but the hefty price increases may intimidate some of us.
In any event, I am suggesting an approach that does not leave much room for Beaujolais. Not at a barbecue. Those charred, smoky flavours need something bigger than Beauj. And for me, wines from the south of France – power, gripping tannins, approachable fruit – are perfect. I make sure the wines are not too warm, even if the weather is. These wines are best between 16°C and 18°C (60-65°F). If necessary, chill them down in the fridge.
And so, most spectacularly, a pair of Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the house of Ogier: Galets Roulés 2009 and Safres 2009. (The names refer to local soil types, if you’re interested.) These boys are not cheap, but good Châteauneuf never is. Both are powerful (15 per cent) and wonderful. The Safres has become harder to find after getting some rave reviews, but Galets Roulés is at Fine & Rare Wines (www.frw.co.uk), four Morrisons Fine Wine stores, and Berry Bros & Rudd (www.bbr.com). Price in the low £20s. Worth it.
Less exalted but still really memorable: a serious but easy-going Corbières, Château Trillol 2008. Nearly equal parts of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan, with notably supple tannins. It is £8.95 from The Wine Society (www.thewinesociety.com) and FromVineyardsDirect (www.fromvineyardsdirect.com).
And finally, Les Jamelles Mourvèdre Réserve 2011 (Co-Op, £6.99). A rich, herb-scented, savoury wine. Perfect for barbecue, perfect for brisket. Versatility is vital, now that we live in Wyoming East.