Category: Red Wines Page 1 of 2
I am always on the lookout for a satisfying Big Red that meets our criteria as a Value Wine–i.e., high quality and a price of less than $20. We at The Wine Bargain Sleuth have long been a fan of Washington Cabs and Merlots and have frequently recommended the same to our wine sleuths! The Milbrandt Merlot Columbia Valley 2017 is a terrific example of a great Value Wine: at its modest $17 suggested retail, it far outdrinks many Merlots that cost 2-3 times more.
Say you have a birthday or a big anniversary coming up. Or you closed that big deal at work…or just because you are worth it! Some days you…
The Ken Wright 2015 is delightful as a cocktail wine, yet with sufficient substance and acidity to pair beautifully with roasted pork tenderloin or crispy duck. As many Oregon Pinot Noir fans are aware, most Ken Wright Pinot offerings are single-vineyard sourced and typically priced over $60; however the Ken Wright Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2015 breaks the mold as a blend of numerous terrific Willamette vineyards.
So, fellow sleuths, you have a big milestone coming up, say your birthday or perhaps a meaningful wedding anniversary. You are a Big Red drinker and have made a decision to grab a bottle of something out of the ordinary and even extraordinary. However, your budget is not unlimited (have to save your hard-earned bucks for flowers or some other goodies for your significant other!). The solution? This one is easy–the Justin Isosceles 2014. Justin’s delectable blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot is sourced from the Paso Robles area of central California.
Not many Value Wines are impressive enough to make the Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines for any vintage; this Vina Santa Ema Cab Reserva 2015 was awarded the number 29 slot and a strong 91 rating, a pretty amazing bang for your buck for a widely available Big Red that retails for only $15! Or as Wine Spectator said itself, “This reserva punched above its weight in 2015….”
A classic Right Bank blend of primarily Merlot with a healthy dollup of Cabernet Franc, the Chateau Tessendey 2014 is drinkable now as a cocktail wine or as an elegant pairing to a roast pork tenderloin or lamb chops, but it has the structure to lay down for a few more years as well. The Chateau Tessendey 2014 has a mouthful of berry fruits and currants, with a classic Bordeaux earthiness and a long, bone-dry finish. Wine Enthusiast Magazine agreed and bestowed a strong 91 rating on this Big Red to boot! If this description sounds like a French wine that will put a serious bruising on your Visa card, then we have a nice surprise for you!
The Fabre Montmayou Malbec Gran Reserva Mendoza 2013 is just coming into its own, but is definitely drinkable with perhaps 15-30 minutes of breathing to allow it to open up. Clever wine sleuths know that wines that are released from the Southern Hemisphere are actually a growing season ahead, making a 2013 release from, for example, Argentina the functional equivalent of a 2012 release from the USA. The initial flavor profile of this Fabre Montmayou Gran Reserva is of fresh dark fruit, pepper and spice, with a lovely earthiness on the mid-palate, followed by a lengthy finish of chocolate and licorice hints. While the Fabre Montmayou Malbec Gran Reserva 2013 would be an amazing pairing with a charcoal-grilled ribeye steak, it was also silky and elegant enough to be served, as it was to our birthday party, with chocolate truffles and apple pie.
A recent family vacation to idyllic Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic afforded just such an opportunity to try a terrific Argentinian wine — the Trivento Cabernet-Malbec Mendoza Reserve 2013. The very definition of a food friendly Value Wine, the Trivento Big Red contains elegant red berry, earthy green tea and dark current profiles, with a seemingly seamless, lengthy finish.
I don’t know that I tasted a better, more elegant, more nuanced Cab the entire trip to Napa, if not this year to date, than the Lamborn 2008 Howell Mountain Cab. Deep aromas of blackberry and even a hint of black cherry and cassis began the experience, with an oaked but polished mid-palate, with a smooth, earthy and complex finish that felt like it lasted for 2 minutes.
Without a doubt, the State of Washington is producing some terrific wines, and you savvy wine sleuths should definitely pay heed. Exhibit A is the Columbia Crest 2013 Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, which is an delicious medium-bodied Cab that is widely distributed. I picked up hints of cocoa, blueberries and blackberries, with a noticeable but delicious oak overtone. Not overly tannic, this is an everyday Cab that can be served as on its own, or it would be a delicious pairing with a grilled filet or even a pork tenderloin.
Looking for a new house Big Red that impresses your savvy wine buddies but still leaves a few quid in your pocket from a $20? The great state of Washington and one of its shining wine stars, Chateau Ste. Michelle provides this month’s answer in the form of its Indian Wells Merlot 2014. A full-bodied but lush expression of Merlot, the taste profile for the Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Merlot 2014 is that of ripe dark cherries, cocoa, spice and just a hint of oak for balance.
As prices of our favorite Bordeaux and Napa Valley Big Red offerings continue to soar, much to our chagrin (I remember the good old days when I nearly had a stroke when I paid $40 for a top rate Napa Reserve Cab!), we wine sleuths are constantly on the lookout for a satisfying steak wine but still need change back from our $20 bill. Add bonus points if you are willing to look south of the Equator for sometime somewhat exotic and really amazing. Well, my thirsty friends, your humble Wine Bargain Sleuth has your solution for this month: the Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva 2014.
On a visit to Oregon’s Willamette Valley earlier this year, your humble Wine Bargain Sleuth and our festive group had the opportunity to taste many excellent examples of…
As your humble Wine Bargain Sleuth is ever vigilant and on the lookout for value Pinot Noir that actually resemble high quality Pinots and Burgundies, the Wine by Joe project…
As temperatures creep up to the dreaded 100’s in the Great Southwest, one might think that it is not an opportune time to look for a new house Big Red. On the contrary, my fellow wine sleuths, when others zig we like to zag, and your humble Wine Bargain Sleuth has a real treat for you in this month’s Value Wine No. 1: the Cameron Hughes Lot 457 Meritage Napa Valley 2013. We have reviewed and highlighted other Cameron Hughes wines previously, as the negociant’s philosophy and ours tend to align. However, the CH Lot 457 Meritage is a cut above even the typical high quality of Cameron Hughes offerings.
Your humble wine sleuth has previously confessed to being a fan of the Napa Valley “Rutherford Dust” said to be from the terrior of certain Valley Floor grapes bottled in Rutherford. I was fortunate to have the recent opportunity to travel to Napa Valley and sample the offerings of Round Pond Estate which included the delightful Round Pond Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 2013. Round Pond Estate is located within walking distance of several notable Rutherford neighbors, including Beaulieu Vineyards, Peju Provence and Caymus, to name a few, so fans of those world class Big Reds should definitely take note of their this vineyard’s wines. Although arguably lesser known than some of its Napa Valley floor neighbors, Round Pond Estate has been delivering some terrific Cabs and Cab blends over the past several years, including its own highly acclaimed Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 2012.
Are you wine sleuths looking for an aged, elegant Bordeaux blend Big Red to get you through the winter chill that doesn’t set you back the equivalent of a January gas bill? We have just the wine for this month’s Value Wine No. 1, the Chatter Creek 2008 Blend 105 from Columbia Valley, Washington. Yes, that’s right, this Northwest Big Red is actually a 2008 vintage, meaning that it is perfectly aged at the vineyard and refined for your immediate enjoyment. Reminiscent of a Right Bank Bordeaux, the Chatter Creek 2008 Blend 105 is a Merlot based blend, with helpful dollups of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc to complete the classic five Bordeaux blend varietals.
Those of you who follow The Wine Bargain Sleuth regularly are undoubtedly familiar with Cameron Hughes’ terrific value wines. In fact, it is fair to say that we could easily feature a Cameron Hughes wine as a recommended Value Wine each month. Savvy wine sleuths understand the value that all Cameron Hughes wines bring in terms of bang for your hard earned buck, and the Lot 403 2012 Russian River Valley Pinot is no exception.
When I think of the Turley Juvenile Zinfandel 2013, I think of elegance and balance, with a pleasant but not overpowering nose of cherry and strawberry, followed by a hint of spice and a touch of green pepper, followed by a lovely and lengthy smooth finish. The winemakers at Turley have the reputation of being one of California’s foremost Zinfandel experts, and this bottle should quickly convince a wine sleuth that they are not just whistling Dixie on their mass-production Zins.
Those who follow this blog have likely discovered that your Wine Bargain Sleuth is becoming an increasing fan of Spanish red wines in general and those emanating from the Rioja region in particular. My experience is that a good Rioja red often delivers tremendous bang for your wine buck. This month’s Value Wine No. 2, Bodegas Burgo Viejo Crianza 2012 is definitely one of those Spaniards!
You have probably noticed the recent trend of wine reviewers spotlighting the wines of Portugal. Or stated differently, Portugal’s liquid imports are not just about Port dessert wines anymore. As an example, 3 of the top 4 wines in this year’s Wine Spectator Top 100 wines were Portuguese offerings. If you haven’t had the opportunity to travel to Portugal or otherwise familiarize yourself with the Portugal wines, your Wine Bargain Sleuth has an excellent opportunity for you as one of this Chapter’s Value Wines: Feuerheerd’s Anchor Wine 2012 from the Douro region.
This month’s Value Wine No. 1 is the cleverly named Seven Deadly Zins 2012 Old Vines Zinfandel. This Lodi-sourced example of the robust Zinfandel grape is a worthy match for your backyard BBQ ribs or that extra-juicy burger fresh off the old grill. This inky purple wine (it contains a small dollup of Petite Sirah) has a profile of blackberry jam with multiple layers of earthiness, pepper and minerality woven throughout. Its fine tannins ensure that the Zin is seamless and remarkably elegant for a wine at this price point of $16 retail. I would describe this bold Red as the ideal mid-week wine for those who enjoy grilling out during the warmer months. Widely available, this Zinfandel was recently awarded an impressive 91 rating by Wine Enthusiast. My recommendation is that Wine Sleuths should stock up immediately!
This month’s Worth a Splurge wine is a treat for those who enjoy the polished, earthy Tempranillo wines typically associated with the Rioja region of Spain. The craftsmen of Epoch have offered their Paso Robles, California interpretation of this European classic wine in the form of the Epoch 2011 Tempranillo. I recently had the opportunity to sample this robust red on two different occasions, once pairing the wine with aged cheeses and fruit and once pairing the Epoch wine with one of the absolute best bone-in filets that New York City had to offer. May I say that the Epoch Tempranillo was magnificent in both instances, and my only disappointment is that my cellar is now empty of more bottles of the 2011 Tempranillo.
Your humble Wine Bargain Sleuth was introduced to the Argentine vineyard Trivento nearly two years ago, and recently had the unique opportunity to sample the Trivento 2012 Golden Reserve Lujan de Coyo Malbec against several other high quality producers hailing from Argentina, the Rioja region of Spain, the US and Mexico at the Cancun Wine & Food Festival. How did this South American red fare, you ask? Well, to my palate it was the star of the Cancun Star Chefs Dinner event!
Last night, I ventured off the obvious path and paired a terrific Spanish Rioja with a world-class aged bone-in filet and was blown away. That particular wine was the Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Reserva 2008. What is even better is that this balanced, nuanced Spaniard retails for $16, meaning that even in a typical restaurant with a 200-250% markup from retail, the Montecillo Rioja Reserva will not cause your Amex to spontaneously combust at the cashier!
Better known for its terrific Sauvignon Blancs, Kim Crawford’s 2012 South Island Pinot Noir serves notice that it intends to be a player in the Pinot game. This wine has a nose of cherries, cola and spice, and the mid-palate adds a bit of strawberry and earthiness. It is medium bodied and smooth drinking. Apparently Wine Spectator was favorably impressed as well, and awarded a solid 89 rating to the Kiwi Pinot Noir.
I don’t know of a better value wine at this moment than the remarkable 2012 Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills H3 Cabernet Sauvignon. We have previously recommended some great wines from the Washington state winery, and there’s a better than zero chance that friends might find a Columbia Crest daily drinker in my personal cellar at any given time due to their consistent high quality and true value price. The 2012 H3 Cabernet Sauvignon is certainly no exception. Indeed, if anything, the bar has been reset even higher with this vintage.
If you are a fan of the Spanish Tempranillo wines like your humble Wine Bargain Sleuth, here is a simply unbeatable deal: the 2011 Mano A Mano Tempranillo from Vino de la Tierra de Castilla. This lovely Spaniard retails for the absurd price of $9 per bottle, literally the typical price of some very pedestrian starter wines. Wine Enthusiast raves about this 2011 Mano A Mano, remarking “It’s almost absurd how good this $9 Tempranillo is.” Wine Enthusiast also awarded the wine a stellar 90 rating and named it Number 5 on its Top 100 Value Wines list last month.
In short, folks, there’s a lot going on in that Pinot! Still a young wine, the 2012 Walt The Corners nonetheless balances the cherries and sweet strawberry nose in an interesting finesse of earthiness that seems to gain even more balance with 15 minutes of air. The wine takes on a rounder, elegant feel that will delight even the drinkers of the Big Reds.
Although in the past Chapters we have talked about Italian wines and extolled their virtues, until now we have neglected to recommend a full throttle yet elegant Italian Red. However, this month we remedy this situation by naming a gorgeous Brunello, 2008 Antonio Sasa Martina Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, as a Worth a Splurge wine. I had the opportunity to taste the 2008 Antonio Sasa Martina at a great wine event hosted by my friends Rex and Michele at Ronin Wines, and I was simply blown away by the Italian beauty. Deep tastes of blueberry and a bit of cherry and raspberry, polished fine tannins and just a mouthful of luxurious smoothness and balance with a finish that seems to lengthen with each sip describes the fine red wine.
As the warmer months are gaining on us, your humble Wine Bargain Sleuth continues his quest for quality, affordable Pinot Noir to stash away. In that vein, we have a treat for you this month in the 2012 Handcraft Pinot Noir California! The 2012 Handcraft Pinot Noir has classic Pinot Noir notes of strawberry, cherry and cola, but the blend grapes add a bit of structure and interesting tea and spice flavors with a silky smooth finish.
The 2012 vintage of the Louis Martini Sonoma Cab is a true Bordeaux blend, of which 87% of the juice is sourced from Sonoma Valley Cab Sav grapes. This widely-available value Big Red has a nose of dark fruit, plenty of structure and still manages a lovely, smooth finish, due perhaps to the fairly low 13.9% alcohol content.
One such world class wine is the 2010 Epoch Estate Blend Paderewski Paso Robles, a unique, Rhone-style blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Tempranillo grapes. This unique red, from grapes more often associated with European rather than domestic wines, is best described as a rich and fruit-forward wine which at the same time manages to be quite balanced and complex, with a lovely acidity that makes it food-friendly.
As with all Chianti’s, the Castello Banfi is primarily Sangiovese, and this particular vintage provides a glimpse at just how delicious that varietal can be when placed in expert hands. To my palate, the Banfi Chianti Superiore is a complex, elegant wine, with a nose of cherry and currant flavors followed by well-integrated spice and packing a moderately long, earthy yet smooth finish.
Sometimes a man (or woman) just has to say “What the Heck” and reach for an amazing, world class Big Red, the cost be damned, and that time is right now! I briefly mentioned the 2008 Howell at the Moon The Knoll Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon in Chapter 17 as a standout after I sampled this amazing wine at the 2013 “Taste of Howell Mountain” festival in June. After a recent advance tasting of the 2010 vintage Howell at the Moon The Knoll Cab, I have confirmed my initial impression that this vintner is onto something special.
Like many of the high quality offerings from Columbia Crest, the 2010 Les Chevaux (French for “the Horses”, for the wild horses who formerly inhabited the area) is sourced from the high quality Horse Heaven Hills AVA in Washington state. This complex yet affordable wine is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, with a touch of Syrah for structure. It features dark berry fruits, along with a touch of cocoa and mocha and polished tannins on the finish. I am confident you and your guests will peg this red for a much more expensive wine.
The cool climate of Oregon allows for yet another amazing Pinot from that region in the King Estate Acrobat. This bright red colored wine has ample tastes of cherry and cranberry, with spice and that unique earthy, smooth finish that has reminded so many Pinot Noir fans of Burgundy rather than a domestic wine. It is the complexity of this medium bodied Pinot that sets it apart at this price point and in turn makes the King Estate Acrobat 2011 such an outstanding Red House Wine for bargain sleuths
At $35, the 2010 Chateau Lilian Ladouys offering eminates from an up-and-coming vineyard from the storied Left Bank of the Bordeaux region of France. The Chateau Lilian Ladouys is a remarkable value, particularly with its spectacular 2009 and 2010 vintages.
The Susana Balbo Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is a fine reminder that some remarkable Cabs, as well as Malbecs, are being bottled in Argentina these days. This full-bodied, deep ruby colored South American offering gives your palate the full Cabernet Sauvignon experience, with lots of dark fruit, spice and even a hint of red pepper, followed by a lingering, earthy finish. Folks, there is a lot going on in this glass!
Wine negociant and entrepreneur Cameron Hughes has traditionally reserved Lots 200, 300 and 400 from what he considers some of the finest producers in Napa Valley, and the 2011 Cameron Hughes Lot 500 Napa Valley (Oakville) Cabernet Sauvignon follows suit with a blockbuster Big Red.
While perhaps not quite as impressive as the highly rated 2007 and 2008 vintages, the 2010 Franciscan nevertheless is an excellent “go to” or house Cabernet, garnering a solid 89 rating from Wine Enthusiast. That publication is obviously a fan of the Franciscan Cab, describing it thusly: “Good price for a Cabernet this elegant and classy. It’s not something for the cellar, but offers everything it has now, with ripe blackberry, black currant and cedar flavors that are wrapped into sturdy, smooth tannins.” You can grab this one and enjoy it immediately.
When I think of Washington’s Columbia Crest label, I think consistent quality and remarkable bang for your buck. Exhibit A to this theory is represented by
the 2010 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Although I am very fond of red Rioja’s, the Spaniard was certainly not my initial choice for a pairing with a traditional Thanksgiving meal. However, the 2007 Ondalan is so remarkably balanced that it would be a welcome guest at your Thanksgiving celebration.
Experience teaches us lessons that sometimes need to be overcome. Your humble Wine Bargain Sleuth loves surprises, and I found a delightful one in this month’s Value Wine No. 1: the Cameron Hughes Lot 343 2011 IGP Pays d’Oc Meritage. I say that lessons sometimes need to be overcome because I rarely think of quality French wines as values when sampling the candidates for our monthly recommendations. In the case of the Cameron Hughes Lot 343, that would be a huge mistake!
After giving props to Italy for becoming the world’s largest wine producing nation in this month’s Chapter, it seemed only fair to demonstrate a great reason that dynamic has occurred. From the legendary Italian wine region of Tuscany hails the remarkable 2011 Cecchi Sangiovese Toscana.
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to taste a terrific Cabernet Sauvignon from one of California’s upcoming but lesser known wine regions, Paso Robles. I was so…
One outstanding development I have noticed is the increasing occurrences of wine festivals across the country. On a recent weekend excursion I was fortunate to attend a local…
An undeniable treat and this month’s Worth a Splurge Wine is the 2010 Catena Malbec from Argentina. Retailing for a very reasonable $26, this may be the Malbec…
During the recent heat wave in my neck of the woods (read, a few degrees shy of the surface of the sun last week!), I have been in…