Many people associate the summer with rosé, but there are also red wines perfectly suited to warmer temperatures. These bottlings often emphasize bright fruit flavors and searing acidity, apropos for even the hottest days of the year.
The next time you’re choosing what to drink in the heat of summer, and want something with a little more heft than your average rosé, pop open one of these light and refreshing reds. Don’t be afraid to serve them chilled, too.
Savage Grace 2019 Cru Carbonic Red Willow Vineyard Cabernet Franc (Yakima Valley); $34, 92 points. This is a one-of-a-kind wine, carbonic macerated from one of the state’s top vineyards. There are upfront aromas of green pepper, peat, cranberry, pomegranate and strawberry. Light, bright flavors follow, with an intriguing, grainy, almost tacky feel. Food required. Pair it with grilled flank steak with chimichurri. Editors’ Choice. —Sean P. Sullivan
The Adroît Initiative 2019 Carbonic Mourvèdre (Chalone); $30, 92 points. The current carbonic craze often produces similar tasting wines, so it’s refreshing to see it applied to Mourvèdre, whose rustic soul brings new flavors. Light in the glass, this bottling moves from strawberry, hibiscus and dried meat on the nose to tea spice, oregano and thyme on the palate. That earthy edge is not so common for the fruity carbonic style. Editors’ Choice. —Matt Kettmann
Woodward Canyon 2018 Estate Barbera (Walla Walla Valley); $32, 92 points. This variety is an extreme rarity in the state let alone in the valley, though this producer has been making it for more than 20 years. The fruit-forward notes of cherry, dark raspberry and bramble capture the attention. Bright, tart, acidity-driven flavors deliver. It’s thoroughly delightful. Pizza anyone? Editors’ Choice. —S.S.
Two Vintners 2018 Make Haste Olsen Vineyard Cinsault (Yakima Valley); $25, 91 points. The aromas boast notes of freshly peeled Satsuma orange, funk, crushed flowers, black olive and peat. The palate is richly flavorful while retaining elegance. It sticks around on the savory, orange peel and flower-filled finish. —S.S.
Allan Hancock 2019 Pinot Noir (Santa Barbara County); $18, 90 points. Rusty aromas of tart cherry meet with wild mint, thyme, pine and forest floor on the engaging nose of this bottling. The wild cherry and sagebrush combination shines on the palate, which is refreshing, zippy and pleasantly tart. —M.K.
The Hermit Ram 2018 Whole Bunch Pinot Noir (North Canterbury): $32, 90 points. Brace yourself. The defining feature of this minimal intervention wine is not the whole bunch character—it’s the acidity. Everything else takes a back seat. Sure, there’s tightly held red fruit, earthy, herbal and saline notes, with a general rustic, stripped back vibe. But this wine is all about that thirst quenching acidity that crunches and crackles and makes the acid-hounds amongst us crave another sip. Wine Dogs Imports LLC. —Christina Pickard
Gorghi Tondi 2019 Dumè Frappato (Sicilia); $20, 90 points. Mouthwatering aromas of crushed, ripe strawberry and white pepper follow over to the tangy, savory palate along with a hint of orange zest. It’s fresh and incredibly easy drinking, with lively acidity and pliant tannins. It closes on an almost salty note. Sheehan Brothers. —Kerin O’Keefe
Halos de Jupiter 2018 Grenache (Costières de Nîmes); $14, 89 points. Rose petals and raspberry perfume this fruity, forward varietal Grenache. It offers all the juicy, easy fruit that you want from a quaffable red but it’s elegant and nuanced too, etched by whiffs of dried thyme, mint and a subtle mineral finish. At peak now–2024. Saranty Imports. Best Buy. —Anna Lee C. Iijima