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Reds worth cellaring...Cabs, Pinots, Other
B.E.'s Cellar Notes
Special Aged Wines: B.E.'s Discoveries
Virginia/North Carolina: B.E.'s Discoveries
Interesting Links: see Other Interests
Wine Books for Wine Lovers
see B.E.'s Wine Tips
Articles by B.E. see B.E. in print
Starting a Wine Cellar: B.E.'s Wine Tips
Wines for aging: see B.E. Cellar Notes
B.E. on organic and biodynamic wines see article
Often my preferred wine with roast turkey is Pinot Noir, but this year I'm making it Zinfandel, the quintessential American red—rich in texture with ripe-berry flavors, it nicely handles the variety of dishes on the Thanksgiving table. Also, I'm happy to report, Zinfandel has undergone a bit of sea-change. For a time there Zinfandel meant monster reds 15-16+ percent alcohol, heavy, overly extracted, syrupy reds more like Port than table wine.
There are still such wines for those who like them, but many producers have notched back a couple of degrees. Zinfandel, however, is always a bold assertive red. I've tasted a few samples recently, persuasive and appealing. Here are some recommendations, which will work with many hearty holiday feasts:
Old Vine Zins. Old vines yield the most succulent and concentrated fruit, deep and complex, but these vines can't last forever; many have already vanished, so "old vine" Zins are becoming rarer all the time. Get them while you can.
Dry Creek Old Vine Zinfandel 2016, Dry Creek Valley*** $35 Average age of the vines that produced this wine: 95 years. This is Dry Creek Vineyard's signature Zin—and their best, in my view, among several very good ones. Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma is noted for Zinfandel with distinctive wild berry flavors (often called "brambly") and accents of black pepper. Only 2,000 cases made, so harder to find. Even rarer is Dry Creek Four Clones Vineyard*** (2016, 600 cases, $42/bottle), but it is delicious and beautifully balanced.
Peachy Canyon 2016 Bailey Vyd Paso Robles $42*** Peachy Canyon is noted for juicy Zinfandels and produces several at various price levels. This is from the venerable Bailey Vyd, dry-farmed and organic; brimming with boysenberry and other black fruits. A very seductive Zin.
Alexander Valley Vyds Sin Zin 2014 Alexander Valley $16-20*** The original label (see B.E's Cellar Selections) is so delightful I can't think why they ever change it—but the wine is consistently good, with ripe blackberry and raspberry flavors. Outstanding value!
Other good Zins:
Dry Creek Heritage Vines 2016 $15-18**+ Dry Creek's most widely available Zin--meaty with spicy berry flavors; an excellent buy.
Decoy 2015 Zinfandel Sonoma $18 and up** The cranberry accents in this Zin will strike a nice flavor note for Thanksgiving.
Truett-Hurst 2015 Three Vyds Zinfandel Sonoma $25**+
|Wine Buy of the
Week (Transitional Reds)
This is the season for medium-bodied reds like Cotes-du-Rhone and other grenache wines, as well as Gamay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Italian
varieties (barbera, montepulciano).
La Merrigia Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2015 Abruzzi, Italy $14**+ Montepulciano is a place (in Tuscany), but it's also a grape, planted widely in central and southern Italy. The Abruzzi region on high elevations overlooking the Adriatic Sea produces some of the best Montepulcianos. La Meriggia is an excellent example: richly colored, medium body, dark berry flavors--great choice for autumn grilling. From CapriFlavors in Cary.
Chiarlo Barbera d'Asti 2015 Piemonte $12.99-15** Bright red fruit flavors give this refreshing red great appeal. Barberas from Asti tend to be lighter than sturdy, earthier versions from Alba, very good choices for grilled sausages and vegetables, roast chicken or pork.
Château de Campuget 2015 Costières de Nimes Rhône Valley $12-14**+ Smooth and round this well-balanced quaff is firm but juicy, and an excellent choice for easing into fall with grilled meats.
Chinon Les Terrasses 2015, Lambert Loire Valley $17-18**+ Juicy red fruits (cherry, red currant) in this cabernet franc make it a perfect transitional red, actually quite nice on its own.
Dry Creek Vineyard 2017 Sauvignon Blanc Dry Creek Valley***
$17-20, and well worth it--one of the tastiest Sauvignons I've had recently, due perhaps to 13.5% musqué in the blend which lends spicy accents to the zest of tangerine and the creaminess of lemon curd. Very well-balanced, youthful and fresh, an excellent choice for seafood and shellfish (also beet and goat cheese salad). wbow
Rodney Strong 2016 Sauvignon Blanc 'Charlotte's Home' $14-16*** Best version of this wine to date--dry, but intense tangy flavors, spicy citrus and excellent balance. Great choice for summer seafood, goat cheese-and-beet salad, shrimp or other seafood pastas. Elicio Vermentino 2017 Rhône Valley $15**+ Vermentino, happy to report, is much more widely planted today--its bright, crisp fruit and tangy mineral accents make it an excellent summer white, a very good match for seafood and shellfish. This "Méditerranée" wine from the southern Rhône is dry and most appealing, as well as excellent value.
Jordan 2015 Chardonnay Russian River $32*** Excellent! But don't be in a rush to drink this beautifully structured, deftly oaked Chardonnay—it will be even better in two or three years (2020-21), though its finesse is most enjoyable now. Recently I had the 2012, which was absolutely lovely!
Angelini 2017 Pinot Grigio Veneto $10-12**+ While some consider them the cliché of white wines Grigios are hard to beat in affordable dry whites for summer's seafood and casual sipping--get 'em while they're young and fresh and at their best, as in this 2017 from Angelini: clean, crisp, with tangy bright fruit and a nice touch of minerality. And a bargain!
always have one on ice, just in case. And it's a great way
to launch a fine dinner. Try this one:
Meiomi Sparkling Wine North Coast $20-26**+ Made from the classic pinot noir and chardonnay grapes using the traditional methode champenoise. Dry, lively and well-balanced.