Easing toward autumn, the appeal of big-flavored reds grows.
If you're ready for a steak on the grill, consider the 2013 The Federalist Lodi Zinfandel, which fittingly comes in at $17.76. The label sports an image of George Washington. Earlier ones heralded Alexander Hamilton. There's plenty of old-vine fruit in this purple, potent wine, to go with the fine varietal character.
The 2012 Edmeades' Folly ($26) is a zinfandel blend, boosted with syrah, petit sirah and merlot. The result is heady with black fruit and plum, with an undercurrent of pepper and a hint of vanilla. It's a match for red meat, from hamburgers to steaks. You'll also like it with sausages and with lamb.
For a richer, ripe, concentrated red, try the 2012 Mount Veeder Winery Reserve ($90), which is primarily cabernet sauvignon with splashes of merlot, Malbec and petit verdot. The Napa Valley wine delivers berry and cassis notes, along with suggestions of cocoa and pepper. Prepare a porterhouse for company.
There's a statement in red fruit from the 2013 Patz & Hall Gap's Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($70), a mouthful in many ways. You'll detect lush cherry and considerable spice and herb qualities in this smooth, delightful pinot. It continues to mature at a leisurely pace.
And the 2012 Pahlmeyer Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast ($75) brings a harvest of cherries and blackberries with it, in an intense package. Pepper and vanilla contribute to the earthy, layered, very satisfying wine, which calls for roast chicken or duck, grilled beef or loin of pork, grilled salmon or tuna.