I love camping. We are always waiting for that season, we spend a big part of our vacations doing some and many weekend are planned to get away in the nature. But how can one combine this passion for the outdoor with wine? Can they even go together? Since I’m not a beer drinker (simply a matter of taste), I say yes!
What am I searching at when looking for « camping » wine? It must be good, that’s simple logic, but I am also aiming at drinkability and versatility. Since camping only happens in summer (I’m not that geek to camp in other season…), a time of the year when I open a lot of Gamay based wine, I am bringing some with me for sure! Camping doesn’t have to be dull and sad, you have to use a grill with some meat over a BBQ or a fire! Then you can pair ribs with Zinfandel wines of steak or brochette with a Cabernet-Sauvignon.
But does it all have to be about pairing wine and dishes? No. Then I simply go with personal favorites, wine that pleases me and won’t break the bank.
I’m about to end my camping season (that is not over yet!) of over 30 nights out breathing fresh air, travel, seeing new places and spending time with friends. What did I had (and shared of course!) during those trips? Here are some of them with short comments of my appreciation of these wines:
Norman Hardie Cabernet Franc VQA Prince Edward County 2013
To me, I cannot think camping without this wine. It is more than a “classic”, it’s a must have! Fruity, fresh, it have just enough concentration, low alcohol level (the higher I ever had is this 2013 with a level below 12%) and the bottle is equipped with a twist cap which ease its opening! Since I went twice at the winery this summer, it might a reason why I had many bottles of it!
Juvé y Camps Reserva de la Familia 2010
Camping is and must be a celebration. To highlight friend’s wedding anniversary, we “sabrered” a bottle of this bubbly, and it was a perfect moment! And this wine is good, so the pairing with the moment was ideal…
Clos des Fous Cabernet-Sauvignon Valle de Cachapoal 2011
I am a fan of this Chilean winery (and of my wife’s favorites), this good and fresh Cabernet-Sauvignon wine is a perfect companion for BBQ grilled dishes.
Gérard Boulay Sancerre 2013
Available in Québec though private import only, this is a personal favorite, especially in that 375ml bottle size. A ripe fruit flavors/aromas Sauvignon Blanc wine that is not heavy at all but concentrated enough with its tropical fruit profile, great acidity level and freshness. A real delight!
Domaine Catherine et Pierre Breton Bourgueil Cuvée Trinch Épaulé Jeté 2013
Cabernet Franc wines are good anytime, anywhere, even in camping. It had some “brett” (distinctive unpleasant animal aromas) when compared to previous bottles opened earlier this year, but air and campfire proximity helped forgetting this default and focusing on enjoying the moment.
Ridge Vineyards Three Valleys Sonoma County 2012
Ridge Vineyards wines are a personal favorite to us and a couple of friends. As I mentioned earlier in the text, Zinfandel goes well with ribs. That’s exactly what we had! Less good than the Geyserville and Lytton Springs wines also from Ridge (and also a lot cheaper!), this one got the job done. But if you’re into Zinfandel wines, look out for the one from Hobo commented just below (a wine that I prefer to this one…)
Hobo Wine Company Folk Machine Valdiguié Redwood Valley 2012
The Valdiguié grape used to be known as the « Napa Gamay ». Lightly colored, very aromatic, tasty and fresh and is out of the classic boundaries of international grape varieties. Also have a good acidity level and a low alcohol level. Perfect to be astonished and have a great moment by the campfire.
Hobo Wine Company Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Sonoma County 2013
Same producer as the Folk Machine Valdiguié also commented here, this Zinfandel have smoky black berry flavors, spices, a touch of brown sugar and a level of alcohol below 14%, which is rare with that grape variety. Perfect to satisfy the full-bodied but balanced wine amateur in you!
El Coto Crianza Rioja 2010
A Tempranillo grape based wine paid less than $7 us with a good amount of fruit flavors, some spices and oak. It drank pretty well by itself over again, a campfire…
Lan Crianza Rioja 2010
I bought this wine to compare it with the El Coto and paid $3 us more for it. More serious and deep with oak not being as well integrated for now, but well worth the asked price from the SAQ (around $19). Since I do not drink that much Spanish wines, I was pleased with the two we had!
Michael Skurnik The Pinot Noir Project California 2013
When I travel, I like to try some « locally » produced wine. Chosen to drink during the evening by the fire, I did not had the intention of buying a Grand Cru level wine (I keep my money for bottles I’m bringing home instead – will talk about that in a further blog post). Well it did the job, but preferred the Spanish wines. A rather modern style Pinot Noir with some heat, cooked berry flavors, spices and oak being too powerful for me and on the finish some residual sugar. Not bad, but not my style of Pinot either.
Writing these lines are reviving my desire to take the road for some new areas and places to camp on, enjoy the few last days of warm weather left to this summer, breath some fresh air and of course, having some great wine!