WINE: Summertime and the sipping is easy

It's time to turn the burner up on summer reds.

For those in a heated rush for great wines to serve up with charred flesh on the back deck, do we ever have some hot bargains. I sifted through dozens of wines, many new arrivals, that are widely available.These are the ones that truly fired up my taste buds.

Most intriguing is the Café Culture from South Africa. It showed up at Vintages first. The fans it generated from that limited exposure has now earned it a spot in all stores.

Yes, it smells and tastes with a definite coffee bean accent. However, the winemakers did not add coffee beans. The mocha stems from how they toasted or fired the oak barrels. The grape variety is pinotage, created as a cross between cinsaut and pinot noir in 1925. Believe me, coffee is preferable to what regular pinotage can smell like, which many critics have likened to rusty nails!

We also have two reds with the famed tempranillo grape in them, the Montecillo a classic from its homeland, in Rioja, Spain, and the Deakin Estate an Aussie blend using 30 per cent tempranillo to round out and soften the harsher more fiery cabernet sauvignon.

Do you like tar and asphalt in your reds? No? The Ribshack hints of those, and I can testify it does wonders to augment the smoky flavours of spare ribs and burgers.

We have Emiliana as well, a merlot that is soft, super smooth and mellow on the palate, for those intimidated by coffee grounds and asphalt accents in their wines.

You may notice three of my summer reds rate 90. I confess I hate giving such a high score to wines under $15, but I can live with it if you can!

Emiliana Reserva 2012 Adobe Merlot
(Chile) LCBO #322024
Rating: 90

Lovely plum, blueberry and cherry aromas and a gush of spicy black cherry, plum and vanilla accented flavours, all very smooth.
Food suggestion: Marinated flank steaks.

Montecillo 2010 Crianza Tempranillo
$14.95 (Spain)
LCBO #144493
Rating: 90+

Rich ripe summer plum, violets, vanilla bean, black cherry, and mint leaves wow in both the aromas and flavours. A brand new gem.
Food suggestion: Butterflied leg of lamb.

Deakin Estate 2013 Artisan's Blend Cabernet Tempranillo
$12.80 (Australia)
LCBO #399238
Rating: 90

A stylish blend with seductive aromas and flavours of plum, anise, blackberry and a finish of vanilla-laced summer black cherry fruit.
Food suggestion: Duck confit or T-bone steaks.

Ribshack 2014 Red
$12.85 (South Africa)
LCBO #392761
Rating: 89+

Big smoke, tar, black cherry and plum aromas with cured meat, vanilla bean and mocha layered in the super smooth flavours.
Food suggestion: Gourmet burgers or ribs.

Cafe Culture 2014 Pinotage
$13.90 (South Africa)
LCBO #292466
Rating: 89+

Smokey coffee beans, tar, scorched earth and black fruits aromas, with strong mocha, spicy black cherry, big vanilla and cedar flavours.
Food suggestion: Coffee rubbed steak.