Roast Lamb or
Many reds work with beef and lamb but fine Cabernet
Sauvignon is a
noble match. There are some excellent ones out there
Jordan 2012 Cabernet
Valley. Jordan's latest, and it's
and supple, with enticing flaovrs of cassis and ripe
superbly balanced. It's easy to see why Jordan Cabernet
holds the #1
restaurant wine lists. Winemake Rob Davis knows how to
select the right
lots to produce consistently flavorful, complex,
that are also accessible in their early years. So if you
spot the 2012
(or the 2011, or the 2010) on a
good list, snap it up to complement your grilled steak
or lamb. But
you'd be wise to
cellar a few bottles till at least 2022--it will go long
Sauvignon 2012 Napa
founded in 1991, makes several
Cabernets, this being the basic one, but it is
intriguing black fruit flavors that will surely grow
more complex and
aromatic with aging. Definitely one to cellar and
enjoy from 2020-2025,
though some will love its youthful vigor and grip
"The Mariner" 2012 Dry Creek Valley
classic Bordeaux blend, well - balanced but rich and
blackberry, black currant and spicy oak flavors;
and can only improve but drinks
well now with roast or grilled lamb or beef.
Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Napa Valley.
Napa Valley Cabernet, with plum, black berries and
cedary flavor notes,
well-structured to age a decade or more but can
accompany roast meats
or game now, though it's a bit chewy.
Tip: a nice gift for North Carolina wine
lovers, since it is a
namesake for our esteemed Chapel Hill
author, Elizabeth Spencer.
Dragon's Tooth, Napa Valley
$60-70 That cool red dragon adorns this
very toothsome red--a
blend of darks:
berry-ripe malbec (66%), petit verdot and cabernet
each). Lush, very succulent malbec, big but balanced.
Great for grilled
or roast meats.
Franc 2013, Dry Creek Valley (Sonoma) $27.
in Asheville, North Carolina, is making some outstanding
sourced from grapes grown in California. This is another
Franc, with ripe red currant flavors, excellent balance.
Tasty now, but
with the structure to improve with a few years on
bit more intense is Biltmore's The
Hunt 2012, Sonoma County,$39.99. A blend
of 40 percent
cabernet sauvignon, 35 cabernet franc, 25 merlot, aromas
berries, oak and vanilla, flavors of black cherry, this
solid red can
handle hearty fare, such as roast meats, venison, duck
confit now, but
will develop wonderful complexity and rich texture with
some years of
bottle age--say, in 2020-2022 (it will be here before
you know it!).
Syrah and Rhône
Bonny Doon Le Cigare
2011 Central Coast This
Rhône blend (37% mourvedre, 34% grenache, 20%
venerable vineyards along California's Central Coast is
winery's best, rich and deep, the earthy wild-berry
flavors braced with
tannins that allow aging a good decade or beyond.
Rather in the
style of such Catch it in the near
term, but definitely lay down a pair or so of bottles
Noir. A frequent pick with many of my
spicy, ruby-rich flavors so nicely complement roast
(especially duck, goose, wild turkey)
love the various incarnations of Pinot Noir,
from the taut well-structured wines of France's Burgundy
regions -- the Côte de Nuits (richer,
appellations such as Nuits-St. Georges,
Vosne-Romanée) and the Côte
Beaune (the lighter but elegant Volnays,
Beaunes) and Côtes
but simpler Givry, Mercurey), to the elegance and
balance of Oregon
Pinots, to the extravagant
fruit of Sonoma's Russian
and the engaging flavors of Pinots from California's
(Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Santa Lucia Highlands).
New Zealand is also producing intriguing Pinots:
Road in Otago. They age extremely well -- recently
enjoyed the rich and
velvety 2009, but it has several years ahead of it, at
2018. Cellar more recent vintages for similar
think one of the things Pinot
Noir/Burgundy fanatics love about the variety is a
certain sauvage character--a
wildness of flavor that sometimes expresses as
rose...wild berries rather than cultivated...a
certain woodsiness (not woodiness)--that is,
forest floor, woodlands after rain. When pinot noir
is allowed to get
too ripe this "wild" character is obliterated and
the result is a ripe
fruit bomb that could be almost any variety.
a Pinot/Burgundy fanatic, so I
love this flavor characteristic. It's showing now in
the Merry Edwards
2012 Klopp Ranch, a
wine of dense, brambly, wild cherry fruit. When I get that
in RR Pinots, I'm thrilled, captivated--wish that I
had more bottles
because -- though very drinkable now, with the likes
of grilled duck
breast, roast loin of pork, even roast leg of lamb
-- I think it will
be even better with some bottle age (I recently
tasted the 2007--nigh
on to perfect!). This one is beautifully balanced,
the key to aging,
and likely will be even more interesting and
intriguing from, say,
At dinner with friends recently we opened their
bottle of Merry
Edwards 2002 Windsor Garden Vyd--wow!
It was beautiful--aromatic, silky in texture, spicy
flavors, smooth and
long. Oh, the delights of aging!
you're out in
the Russian River Valley, put Merry Edwards Winery
on your list to
visit. Tastings are complimentary, and the winery
is one of the
handsomest in Sonoma--not to mention the
wines! Don't miss the
Sauvignon Blanc--possibly the best in America.
M.E.'s current 2013 Sonoma Coast Pinot
($39), the winery's
lightest , is rich
and luscious for drinking now, and I highly
Outstanding Pinot Noirs:
Noir RRV Rich and dark
contours that make it exciting to drink now but with the
balance to develop complexity with 3 to 5 years in
bottle, and should go a decade or more.
Amici 2013 Pinot
Noir Russian River Valley $35
concentration of black cherry plus hints of raspberry
make this Pinot
quite enticing now--but a few years in bottle should
broaden and deepen
the complexity; very well-balanced, excellent length.
J Vineyards Misterra
Small amounts of Pinot Meunier and Pinotage inform
svelte limited production red -- most likely found on
restaurant wine lists. More widely available is J Vineyards 2013 Pinot
Russian River Valley ($28-30).
Seductive Russian River fruit
envelops this Pinot as well--flavors of black raspberry
and cherry in a
frame of ripe tannins, good acidity; good length.
Rodney Strong 2013 Pinot
Noir Sonoma Coast Very young;
full-bodied; appealing spicy fruit with prominent
acidity. A year
or so in bottle will round that off nicely, but it
worked well recently
with a rich and somewhat fatty beef brisket.
If you are out
in Sonoma, be sure to include the
Russian River Valley on your itinerary. Just out from
Santa Rosa is Russian
Hill Vineyards, a wine
commands a spectacular view of the eastern portion of
the valley, with
vineyards stretching in all directions--a must-visit if
yourself in or near Santa Rosa.
Hill 2012 Estate Pinot Noir, $40, an excellent
buy. Rich dark
cherry and ripe berry fruit, deep and well-balanced.
Drinking well now
but can only improve in complexity of aroma and flavor.
Russian Hill Tara
2012. This is my favorite Pinot from
Hill--consistently intriguing for its spicy fruit and
balance. I loved the 2010, quite beautiful, deeper and
the other wines of the vintage. Expect the 2012 to
intense dark cherry and ripe berry fruit with a nice
grip of tannin and oak. Try it now with roast duck or
grilled duck breast.