Donkey & Goat are a trailblazing and highly committed natural producer who make sensational wines at their urban winery in Berkley. Founded in 2004, they’ve paved their own path, have been fundamental in the rise of the ‘underground’ minimal intervention wine movement, and are more than devoted to sustainability, both in the vineyard and the cellar. They are, however, much more than a niche brand. Their wines are inspired by those from the Rhone Valley, and their dedication to natural is driven by a desire for the best wine possible, as opposed to a fashion or trend led USP. This wine is a blend of Merlot, Grenache and Mourvedre, which is delicious chilled.
Chilled red wine?
Red wine can often be serve chilled, and lighter red wines are often better served a little cold. But the science goes a little further than this, and there are a few points to note on the way in which temperature affects red wines.
As red wines get warmer, the alcohol becomes more pronounced. So any wine that has 14%+ will feel quite alcoholic and ‘hot’ if it gets a bit warm. Often producers of ‘big’ red wines will suggest that they’re served at ‘cellar temperature’ which is normally around 18*. This tightens the wine up and gives it focus. Lighter wines, where the alcohol is lower, are designed to be easy drinking, so chilling them well reduces the alcohol and gives their flavour room to shine.
This is the most dominant argument for not over chilling reds - those wines with tannin, like many Cabernet Sauvignon wines, don’t take chilling well, as the tannins become dominant, bitter and astringent, and can often end up shutting the rest of the wine down, so the fruit flavour disappears. However, lighter wines that don’t have much tannin aren’t affected, so can be chilled the same way you would a white.
The flavour in a red wine is affected by the temperature. The warmer the wine, the more jammy, concentrated and stewed the fruit can taste. With big reds this is another reason for the ‘cellar temperature’ argument, as it keeps the fruit flavour pristine and fresh. With lighter reds, chilling them further takes the fruit the other way, causing it to taste crunchy, lively and as though just picked.
So to conclude, with lighter reds there is certainly a good argument for chilling them as you would a white, as the negative implications (namely the affect of tannin) are not applicable and the wine can take on a fresher, more lively character. But don’t be fully dissuaded from chilling bigger wines a little bit, as the focus and balance can be positively affected by chilling them down to cellar temperature (10-15 mins in the fridge should do it).
You can easily see how good Donkey & Goat are at what they do when you taste this wine. It has a crunchy red apple note, which you often find with natural wines, yet it is miles away from being funky or overly rustic. In fact it’s polished, controlled and supremely confident - full of bright, crunchy red fruit and white pepper character. It has a classically Californian richness to it, it’s not remotely austere, which means that when you do chill it, it retains much of it’s beauty and complexity, while becoming vibrant, and ludicrously drinkable. If the weather is hot and al fresco dining on your mind, then fill the fridge with this and you’ll be extremely happy.