The July 4 holiday is certainly an occasion for American wine, even though French would be appropriate, too, in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette and the help he gave our cause. Here are five U.S. wines to celebrate the red, white and, well, pink while enjoying this year’s festivities.
Our greatest value of the week is a California zinfandel, an inherently American wine, from Bogle Vineyards. Bogle is a reliable choice for delicious, affordable bottles, with the added benefit of being widely available. Other choices include two exceptional rosés, a thought-provoking riesling from the Finger Lakes and a delicious merlot from Washington state.
• Bogle Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel 2016: Two stars, California, $13; Bogle Vineyards is one of those notes you should keep in your pocket, to pull out and look at whenever you’re shopping for an inexpensive wine. The entire Bogle line is delicious and affordable, as well as widely available. The Old Vine Zinfandel displays the raspberry and cranberry flavors typical of the grape, with some savory herbal notes. Give it a slight chill if you’re dining outside, and enjoy with burgers and sausages. Alcohol by volume: 14.5 percent.
• Brooks Pinot Noir Rosé 2018: Three stars, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $22; Brooks makes one of my favorite rosés, year after year. It’s sneaky good, in that it doesn’t zap you with refreshing acidity at the first sip, like many rosés do. Rather, it embraces your palate with a comforting layer of strawberry and melon and some magic trick that stops time for several seconds before slowly fading into desire for another sip. This wine is all about texture, and it is delicious. ABV: 14.2 percent.
• Frog’s Leap La Grenouille Rouganté Pink 2018: Three stars, Mendocino, California, $22. Frog’s Leap has always displayed a sense of humor. Wine lovers of a certain age may remember the riesling-based “Leapfrogmilch,” a play on the German liebfraumilch. This label mimics a classic French rosé, proclaiming “Vin Rosé du Pays” and “Appellation Mendocino Controlée.” The blend is mostly old vines carignan from Mendocino County, with some valdiguié from Napa. The wine is not quite as pale as its Provencal versions tend to be, but it is lively and delicious, with a sprightly acidity and relatively low alcohol level to keep it refreshing on a hot day. ABV: 11.7 percent.
•• Keuka Lake Vineyards Upper Eastside Dry Riesling: Two and one-half stars, Finger Lakes, New York, $30; Riesling from the Finger Lakes leans toward citrus, especially lime zest. This single-vineyard wine shows a more minerally character, reminiscent of Alsatian rieslings. This isn’t a patio pounder; instead, the wine wants you to savor it. Pay attention - this bottle has something to say. Keuka Lake also makes a semi-dry riesling ($20) that is more typical of the region, and a delicious fruity white from the hybrid vignoles variety ($17). ABV: 12.4 percent.
• Milbrandt Merlot 2017: Two stars, Columbia Valley, Washington, $16; Maligned by the popular movie “Sideways” 15 years ago, merlot’s standing in popular culture still hasn’t recovered from the hit. Milbrandt’s merlot, however, could be a candidate for reversing that trend. It is rich and plush with plum and cherry flavors, but also with a minerally graphite character that suggests Bordeaux and gives the wine verve. Enjoy this with any sort of grilled steak. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Note: Three stars: Exceptional, Two stars: Excellent; One star: Very good