As the weather drives changes in dress, blankets on the bed and kitchen smells (bubbling beef bourgignon instead of chicken, shrimp and fish on the barbecue), the ratio of white to red wine purchases flips. White values were covered last, as fall days shorten toward winter. Now, a few reds worth pursuing:
Cabernet Sauvignon, Blends
- Columbia Crest ’09 Amitage (red blend), Wash. $10. Ripe grape nose; berries; jam; mid-body; good structure; decent tannins. w/beef
- Guenoc ‘10, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lillie’s, $12. Mid-dark garnet; light varietal nose, vegetative; mid-body, better flavor than nose; a little hot (14.5 alc.). burger wine.
- Pasta wine value Calif Cabernet ’11 Guenoc Lillie’s North Coast $11. Berries, jam nose; mid-body; decent Cab flavor, fruity finish. Better than 2010 version.
- 2009 Michael Mondavi Family Cabernet Sauvignon Tyler Florence Blend #5 $12
- Dark purple; herbaceous peppery nose; soft, round, smooth fruity finish; some Cabernet character. w/cheeses, appetizers.
- Layer Cake ’01 California Cabernet Sauvignon $13. Dark garnet (not sharp); berry, tar, cocoa, herbaceous nose; mid-body; decent fruit, tannins; semi-tight fruity finish. w/burgers, BBQ
- Value Cabernet ’09 Mockingbird Hill Sonoma $14. Ripe Cabernet nose; mint; wood; mid-body, round finish; good Cab flavor. w/beef
- Twenty Bench ‘12Napa Valley Cabernet, $15. Mid-dark garnet; sharp woody nose (American oak?), berries, mint; odd structure and flavor; mid-body; soft tannins for the age; decent acids; some style but hard to pin down. w/beef
- Ch, Bernadotte, 07 Haut Medoc $17. Dark purple; ripe grape, chocolate, herbaceous nose (Merlot and Cab Franc in the blend?); mid-body, mid-viscosity; a little hot; life left; fruity finish. w/beef
- Maroon ‘10, Napa Cabernet Barrel Select $20. Mid-garnet; berries, mint, clean varietal nose; mid-body; balanced; soft tannins, decent acids; mid-viscosity. Very drinkable food wine. w/beef.
- 2006 Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon Flora’s Legacy $34. Dark purple; big mint nose; prunes (14.2 alc), jam, wood; mid-fat bodied; round; older Cab structure; good flavor; a little hot. w/prime rib
- Rhone-like Calif. blend ‘11 Novy Family Four Mile Creek $12. 60 percent Syrah, 30 Zin, 10 Grenache. Dark garnet; jammy, berries, peppery nose (alcohol/prunes); grapey, fat; good tannins; a little hot. BBQ wine.
- Paso Robles BBQ/rib wine ’12 Chronic Cellars Purple Paradise $12. Mid-garnet; berry, wood, bramble, Zin nose (73% Zin, 18 Syrah); mid-body, tight, tannic, a little hot (14.5 alc.), fruity finish. w/ribs
- Stylish Mendoza Malbec ‘07 Poesia Clos des Andes Reserva $15. Mid-dark garnet; licorice, mint, wood nose; mid-body; good balance, structure; tannins holding well; long fruity finish. w/beef
- Runquist ‘10 Petite Sirah $21. Darkest purple, Port-like; cocoa, jam, wood (American? Hungarian?); big fruit extract; soft tannins; long rich fruity finish. w/beef
- Rombauer ‘08, Merlot, Carneros, $32. Dark purple; varietal nose, berries, anise, French oak; mid-body to soft; round; good fruit and flavor. Food wine.
- Sequana ‘11, Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir. From Hess Family Estates. Used 667 and Pommard clones. Mid-dark garnet; distinct varietal nose; stemmy, cherries, wood; good structure; tight; balanced acids at the beginning, semi-velvety finish; a little hot (13.5 alc).
- Domaine Drouhin ‘05, Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, Laurene. Mid-dark garnet, brick edges; stemmy Pinot Noir nose; jam; wood; cherries; mid-body, mid-viscosity; good structure; berries and wood on the palate; long fruity finish.
- Value Chianti Classico ’10 San Felice $12. 80% Sangiovese. Smokey, berries, briar nose; mid-body, smooth tannins, acids. Food wine.
- Castelgiocondo (Frescobaldi) ’97 Brunello di Montalcino. Mid-brick, garnet, amber edges; spice, pepper, smoke, tobacco nose; balanced; good structure; mid-viscosity; full fruity finish. w/veal
- Domaine Moillard ‘05 Clos du Vougeot Grand Cru. Mid-garnet, brick edges; earthy, stemmy, leather nose; mid-body; tight tannins; semi-smooth finish; improves w/air.