Soon the leaves will turn and the need for long sleeves will be upon us. With that in mind, I want to use this inaugural issue of a quarterly column on wine to acquaint you with a couple of great wines to consider. In the coming months, I’ll acquaint you with a couple of my favorites (at different price points), why I love them and offer a general tip or two.
Autumn is the time to move to colder weather and heartier meals—and therefore to heartier red wines. Red wine is a challenge, though. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “But red wine is sour.” Please trust me when I say that the wines I share with you won’t be sour. Often what the drinker is experiencing is the taste of less expensive wines that go through a second pressing—you taste more of the stems and seeds of the grapes than after the first pressing.
David Arthur Elevation 1147
This is my favorite wine in the world. Like all things that are favorites, much is driven by emotion and experience. I found this wine slightly before the rest of America found it—the Wine Spectator gave it a 99-point rating shortly after I found it. The wine is very fruit forward (you might experience it as “sweet,” even though there is no sugar at all in the wine). It combines this fruit with a very smooth taste and a long and pleasant finish. It ain’t cheap—the 2007 vintage is online at $135 per bottle—but it is wonderful.
Tablas Creek Esprit de Tablas
When entertaining, many people look for a wine that will please everyone. Not too fruity, not too dry…just right. I have found that Rhône wines are a great solution—except that they can be a bit pricey. Using Chicago’s Binny’s Beverage Depot as a guide, a bottle of the premium Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape will set you back $100 at retail. Double that price at a fine restaurant. Tablas Creek, a winery in Paso Robles, California, has established a relationship with Beaucastel’s Perrin family, and makes a superb, well-balanced red for half that.
Marietta Angeli Cuvee
Angeli Cuvee is a blend of zinfandel, petite sirah, carignane, and sirah from Sonoma-based Marietta Vineyards. Talk about fruity forward…this wine leaps out of the bottle straight to your palette. It shows a great first impression and a very nice finish. It’s perfect for your own at-home entertaining at $30 per bottle at retail.
When you’re serving red wine, always decant. Even Ernest & Julio’s Hearty Burgundy is better when you combine the wine with a little oxygen. The difference will be noticeable every time.