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Wines for every weekend this summer!

Hey everybody!

I hope you are all enjoying this graduation and summer season. It seems as though many of my high school friends have kids graduating high school and college. As such, I have been busy recommending wines for their celebration parties. Also, since we are well into the barbecue season here in sunny Southern California, I have selected this week's wines for just such occasions. Enjoy this week's picks!

Starting us off this week is a very nice unoaked Chardonnay from Lockwood vineyards in Monterey County.

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The bouquet of this wine is very light, as one would expect. Faint hints of lemon, apple, white flowers, and a wet stone minerality fill the glass. On the palate, the crisp acidity wakes up your salivary glands and hints of apple, pear and an ever so slight note of honey, delight your taste buds.

Pair this wine with pre-dinner snacks such as cheeses and crackers, hors d'oeuvres, salads, or entrées such as pastas with olive oils, or light cream sauces, chicken and fish dishes, and even some pork dishes.

Price range: $8-$12

The first of our four reds this week comes to us from the folks at Merryvale Vineyards in Napa.

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The Merryvale Starmont Merlot exudes notes of blueberry and blackcherry fruit, with a touch of violet flowers on the nose. On the palate, flavors of aged plum and blueberry fill your mouth. There is a slight, spicy note on the finish, reminiscent of anise-flavored licorice. Pair this with grilled lamb, or braised pork loin. The fruit flavors of the wine will compliment the sweet notes of the cooked meats perfectly. Enjoy!

Price range: $15-$22

Our next red is the "entry level" Cabernet from Athenaeum (Pronounced: Ath-uh-nay-um) in Napa Valley.

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On the nose are the big cherry, blackberry and sweet oak notes one would expect from a Napa Cabernet. The palate does not disappoint either, with the same big cherry and blackberry fruit notes. The oak however, is very light and the finish is almost non-existent, making this a wine better suited to pairing with barbecued meats, rather than for sipping and drinking by itself. Pair this with grilled burgers, ribs, brisket, you name it, if it's beef and its barbecued or smoked, this wine will suit your needs just fine.

Price range: $20-$28

Our next red is one that I was introduced to back in 2010, during my wine tasting initiation in Paso Robles: Four Vines "Biker" Zinfandel.

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This is what I have come to expect from Paso Zins. The nose hits you with big notes of fresh black fruits, blackcherry, black raspberry, blackberry. There are also notes of rich fig jam, dates and cracked black pepper. This wine is a pure delight to Zinfandel enthusiasts. On the palate, all the same black fruits and the fig jam fill your mouth with big, bold juicy flavor. The finish is smooth, long and shows off the peppery spice in a complementary and pleasing, not overpowering way. Pair this with its naturally intended soulmate: Santa Maria style Tri Tip! Or... you can always enjoy this wine all by itself.

Price range: $14-$20

Our final wine for this week comes from Paso Robles as well, from the up and coming McClean Vineyards. This is the second style of their "Clemence" wines and is a blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Barbera and Petit Verdot.

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Their McClean "Clemence X" was a blend of Cabernet and Cab Franc. On the nose, the Clemence red blend shows its dark fruit qualities. Blackberry and fresh raspberry notes pour out of the glass. Other fruit notes, such as red plum and blueberry are soft, but detectable. On the palate, the soft velvety tannins and full fruit flavors make this a very approachable and drinkable wine. This wine is a great example of just how good Bordeaux-style blends can be, if given the right climate and soil. The fruit realizes it's full potential in the, (ugh, here we go again), "terroir" of the Paso Robles AVA. Pair this with barbecued or smoked meats of any kind, even poultry and pork. Or, gather some good friends and enjoy a bottle or two by itself.

Price range: $10-$18

Well, that wraps up another round of tastings. As things are changing at my store, things will also be changing here at the Wine Old Owl. Look for my wine picks and reviews every other week, and my "grape of the week" picks will fill in the weeks in between. I'm looking forward to the new wines we are getting in my store, and sharing their reviews with you.

Now get out there and enjoy your summer with these great barbecue friendly wines! Cheers!