Wines for a Summer BBQ

Viognier: Julien Pilon Collines Rhodaniennes 2015      $26

A relatively new kid on the block, Julien Pilon produced his first vintage in 2010, made in his parents’ garage in the small village of Condrieu in the Northern Rhone Valley. In the new world new wineries pop up at a dizzying pace, but it’s very uncommon for an“upstart” winemaker to make a mark in this tiny region of France, where vineyards have been established for hundreds of years.  Pilon, now working out of his own domaine, makes a miniscule amount of wine, focusing on the aromatic white grapes of the Northern Rhone, including Viognier.

This lusciously dry Viognier comes from a section of vineyard land that lies across the river from Hermitage, Collines Rhodaniennes. The wine is crisp, dry and mineral with intoxicating aromas of jasmine, honeysuckle and ripe peach. The granite and sandy soils of the region shine through with a mineral core and vibrant finish.

Grenache: Domaine La Manarine Côtes du Rhône 2014            $19

Domaine la Manarine’s Cotes du Rhone shows all that’s so delicious and inviting about great Grenache. This 100% Grenache comes from 35-year-old vines in the Southern Rhone Valley. Translucent black-ruby in the glass, Manarine’s Cotes du Rhone conveys vibrant wild cherry fruit accented by notes of lavender, garrigue, bitter orange peel and sappy vine stems. Fleshy and supple on the palate, the wine spotlights its deep, tangy core of big cherry and loganberry fruit before revealing plentiful, chewy tannins and hints of tar, camphor and cracked black pepper.

Delicious, tangy and vibrant, Manarine’s Cotes du Rhone is a terrific and affordable choice for year-round enjoyment. Serve it with a slight chill at summer BBQs and at room temperature in cooler months with roast meats, game, burgers, ratatouille and grilled eggplant.

Syrah: Yves-Cuilleron “La Vignes d’a Cote Collines Rhodaniennes 2015 $25

Yves-Cuilleron is one of the undeniable super stars of the Northern Rhône, crafting some of the most exciting cool-climate Syrahs of the region. Yves, who took over the domaine from his uncle, farms vineyards in rocky granite hillsides of Côte Rotie, Condrieu and the up and coming region across the Rhône River, Colline Rhonaniennes. Syrah is the red wine grape that rules the Northern Rhône Valley. While Syrah is planted all over the world, more Syrah is planted in France, than in any other country. It’s the only red wine grape planted in the Northern Rhône Valley, and today, Syrah is one of world’s most popular and widely planted red wine grape varieties.

This 100% cool-climate terroir-driven Syrah is loaded with ripe blackberry and black pepper notes, enchantingly aromatic violet, rose petal and dried herbs. The freshness and mineral core in this wine is the perfect match for smoky barbecue, steak or grilled lamb chops.