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Wine Review: Red wines also worthy of summertime enjoyment

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A short time ago I wrote about the excellent and affordable chardonnay wines from Josh Cellars while, as the modern expression goes, casting their equally excellent red wines under the bus.

I suspect that I was enraptured by the warm spring weather and assumed that the red wines of winter were being pushed aside in favor of the cooler white wines of the warmer seasons. I overlooked that there are many calls for red wines in warmer seasons, too, among them for barbecued meats.

I will rectify that misstep now.

Josh Cellars Paso Robles Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($23)
The region in and around the city of Paso Robles, which borders the Pacific Ocean and is located between Los Angeles and San Francisco, in recent years has become a source of exceptional red wines. It is from this region that the Josh Cellars vintners drew their grapes for this wine. The Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon glorifies the variety and presents the best features of a cabernet sauvignon. The wine is a full-bodied beverage with a deep, violet color and displays the flavors and aromas of blueberry, plum and blackberry. Those are augmented by suggestions of mocha, cedar, oak and vanilla in the background, adding extra layers of complexity to this excellent wine. Serve this wine with meat, hearty pasta dishes, full-flavored cheeses, roast pork and anything else that goes with barbecue.

Josh Cellars Hearth Cabernet Sauvignon ($18)
This is another wine on the same theme. In this wine, the grapes were sourced from vineyards at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. This wine takes a different turn in the flavor and aroma department. The wine is resplendent with the aromas and flavors of baked plums, cherries, blackberries and cranberries, which all follow through to the long and memorable finish. The wine is a bit different from the rest as it has a higher-than-expected alcohol content of 14.5%.

Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon ($23)
Take a well-made cabernet sauvignon and give it three months of extra aging in recently emptied bourbon barrels and you have a masterpiece of winemaking. To eliminate a question that is often asked about wines aged in bourbon barrels, the answer is that there is no increase in the alcohol content of the wine. What bourbon barrel aging does impart is a warmth and softness with just the barest hint of the flavor of bourbon, melding beautifully with the flavors and aromas of blackberry, plum, cherry, chocolate, vanilla, coffee and a suggestion of spice. This is a wine that nicely will accompany anything that can be grilled or served as an aperitif.

Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon ($17)
While I was sampling the Josh Cellars Cabernet sauvignon, I also tasted a nice cabernet sauvignon from Australia. This, too, is a wine that is true to the variety while not being priced in the stratosphere. Cherry is the featured flavor and aroma, followed very closely by summer berries and a slight amount of oak in the background. The tannins, that component of a red wine that produces the dry sensation in the cheeks, are held in check and combine with the rest of the elements in the wine to produce a velvety smooth mouth feel. I found this to be an excellent wine that can accompany a very broad spectrum of summer meat dishes and should not be relegated solely to be served with heavy red meats.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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