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Top 5 Red Wines for Spring

Top 5 Red Wines for Spring


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Light and fruity options to welcome warmer weather

Quick, don’t blink or you’ll miss spring!

One moment it’s here, the next it’s not. You have to be prepared if you want to enjoy some springtime fresh wines before the summer rolls in! I laid out a plan for some spring whites recently, and today it is time to follow up with some bright reds that also remind me of spring.

When I think of spring I think fresh berries, first flowers, a gossamer-soft airiness, meadows in bloom and, of course, lazy afternoons and brisk evenings. Let’s see if I can find five red wines to make you think of spring today.

Click here for the Top 5 Red Wines for Spring.

— Gregory Dal Piaz, Snooth


5 Must Try Wines for Spring

Is there any other color that sings spring more than green? The color calls to mind sprouting plants and fresh grass after rain. Even the vegetables dress in season: asparagus, artichoke, peas, lettuce, and “spring greens” (which are in the brassica family, FYI). Delicious and crisp, the season’s produce also tastes of the green astringency that makes wine pairing difficult with spring dishes. The right wine can make those flavors shine, but the wrong one will make the wines AND food seem bitter. Keep reading our take on the essential wines for spring.

Grüner Veltliner

Austria’s golden child, Grüner Veltliner, literally has green in the name. Its characteristic white pepper aroma gives it a spicy profile that pairs with spring vegetables perfectly. That’s why Grüner Veltliner is one of our top choice wines for spring. It varies from very light to unctuous (pro tip: in Wachau, which claims the grapes most famous expression, Steinfeder, Federspiel, and Smaragd roughly indicate light, medium, and full-bodied respectively). Put this with asparagus or cabbage and you’ll be feeling gut.

Sauvignon Blanc

You know the grape, but this is its time to shine. Sauvignon Blanc has a flavor compound in its berries that gives its wines a vegetal aroma. The green pepper taste compliments peppery or green flavors, which are often so hard to pair. As a naturally high-acid grape, it also feels in balance for the lighter, acidic dishes of spring. Sancerre is often the best-suited expression, as it is more mineral than fruit driven. Although some new-world expressions are still friendly.

Arneis

Piedmont’s indigenous white grape is softly textured with an aroma of meadow flowers and fresh grass. If that doesn’t sound like Spring, I’m not sure what does! It was once overlooked, but many artisan, quality producers are making strides here. Pair it with herb sauces, vegetables, fish, or mushroom.

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc has the same compound as Sauvignon Blanc that gives it a green note beneath the fruit and spice. It also tends to be more elegant in the body- less dense than its popular offspring, Cabernet Sauvignon. Chinon in the Loire Valley is the classic region for the grape, although good expressions can be found worldwide. This is an easy wine pairing for grilled vegetables or lamb.

Red Bordeaux

Tobacco, sage, dark fruits, gravel…all the savory flavors of Red Bordeaux make it aromatically pleasing with many Spring dishes. The region as a whole offers a diversity of texture and weight, from the tannic wines of the Medoc to the plush Merlots of Saint-Emilion. For being more full-bodied, Bordeaux has surprisingly approachable with many dishes. The obvious choice is red meat, but anything umami is a slam dunk.

Spring is a season that is easy to enjoy if you embrace the greenness. Wines that pair for Spring flavors compliment these flavors, rather than contrasting. Save your fruity wines for summer and sip on something savory until the days get longer.

In the mood for great wine yet?

Take our quiz to discover the best wines from around the world matched to your taste.


The best way to drink red wine

When it comes to drinking red wine, we&rsquod recommend serving in your largest bowl-like glass. This will give you room to swirl like a pro and release all the wonderful aromas. After all, much of what we perceive as taste is actually smell.

Some lighter styles, such as beaujolais, can be served chilled, although we&rsquod avoid adding ice as this will dilute the flavours &mdash just below room temperature is ideal. For very full-bodied reds, you might want to creep up to 18 degrees. Everyday reds won&rsquot need decanting, you can save this for your very oldest vintages.

Our selection is extremely food-friendly, pairing well with rich tomato-based vegetarian mains through to salty steaks. And don&rsquot limit yourself to red meat &mdash there are plenty of reds that will complement poultry, including your Christmas Day turkey.

Mencia might not be the first grape you think of when it comes to Spanish wines but if you&rsquore a fan of pinot noir, this fresh and fruity style is one to look out for. Medium-bodied with fine tannins, this unoaked but complex wine is bursting with tangy cherries and plums. The ideal red to serve with your Christmas lunch.

Claret is never going to be the cheapest vino to get your mitts on, and although this is one of the pricier styles in our round-up, it&rsquos great value for what you get. Beautifully perfumed with cedar wood, ripe plum and blackcurrant, it&rsquos super-smooth and well-balanced. Notes of sweet cinnamon, spice and nutmeg make us want to drink this full-bodied red all winter &mdash preferably with a big, juicy steak.

California is home to so many great wines and this is no exception. In true pinot noir style, this one is light-bodied with tangy red cherries and an underlying florality. Earthy and well-structured but with none of the drying tannins often found in bigger reds, this easy-drinker is the ideal accompaniment to roast lamb or rich veggie dishes such as BBQ jackfruit.

Support healthy soil and sustainable farming with this certified-organic drop, free of unnecessary pesticides. With notes of ripe and juicy black cherry and plum, this would support a roast chicken or pork dinner nicely, without overpowering.

This is a classic claret for every day, with plenty of change from a tenner. A blend of merlot, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon, this one&rsquos unoaked, letting all the black fruit come to the fore. Smooth, soft tannins and well-balanced acidity make this a great budget bordeaux.

Looking for something light and refreshing? Silky, floral Beaujolais loves being served lightly chilled. It&rsquos all about the red fruit here &mdash juicy strawberries, red plums &mdash with a little sweet spice on the finish.

A dinner party favourite, this easy-drinking rioja is sure to be a hit. Aged for 24 months in oak, this smooth reserva is packed with creamy vanilla, black fruit and hints of cedar. Just add a roaring fireplace and cosy blanket for maximum vibes.

Made from gamay grapes, grown on 50-year-old vines, this bright, tangy red wine is filled with red berries and just a touch of spice. With a floral note on the finish, this slightly earthy, light-to-medium-bodied wine is super smooth, which our expert loved.


Top 30 Spring Wines

White

Illustration by Holly Wales

1. 2016 Duchman Family Winery Vermentino, $18

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Redolent of tart and juicy citrus, this vintage of Duchman’s signature white wine is alive with yellow flowers and a touch of tropical fruit.

2. 2016 Duchman Family Winery Trebbiano, $15

With a swirl of the glass, this vibrant wine tenders an array of tropical fruit notes led by passion fruit and kiwi. It makes an elegant aperitif as well as a perfect complement to lighter seafood fare.

3. 2017 Fall Creek Vineyards Vintner’s Selection Sauvignon Blanc, $22

Pretty in the glass, this Sauvignon Blanc offers aromas of lime leaf, white daisies, and a touch of peach blossom. Crisp and bright, it offers a juicy, citrus-dominated mid-palate that leads to a refreshing finish.

4. 2016 Grape Creek Winery Cuvée Blanc, $24

Refreshing and light, this beautiful white blend offers bashful aromas of stone fruit and wet limestone that leads to a palate with notes of tart green apple and delicate flowers.

5. 2017 Haak Vineyards & Winery Blanc du Bois Dry, $19

A beautiful nose is framed by playful tropical notes and fleshy lemon pulp. This wine is light and delicate but with a dry character.

6. 2017 Kuhlman Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, $19

With aromas of ripe stone fruit and a kiss of citrus, this wine is simply lovely. It’s bright and balanced.

7. 2016 McPherson Cellars Les Copains White, $18

A happy blend of white Rhône Valley varieties—Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, and Picpoul Blanc, this wine is a summer pleaser, offering a bouquet flush with summer yellow flowers, ripe peach, and a finish of tart lemon pulp.

8. 2016 McPherson Cellars Piquepoul Blanc, $18

Known as a lip-stinger in Southern France, the Picpoul Blanc grape has found a home in Texas. The taste of green apple and white blossoms rushes the palate and fades to notes of lemon curd.

9. 2016 Pedernales Cellars Viognier Reserve, $32

This Viognier has characteristic floral notes folded in with ripe apricots and quenchy citrus. High tones of grapefruit and minerality transition into a crisp, memorable finish.

10. 2017 Rivenburgh Picpoul Blanc, $38

Delicate notes of creamy saltwater taffy and lemon curd rise from the glass, coupled with lush summer flowers that transition to a crisp palate with vibrant acidity and a dusty limestone finish.

11. 2016 Ron Yates Viognier, $27

Those looking for the Texas answer to rich California chardonnay will love this wine. Characteristic floral notes lead, followed by aromas of green apple and lemon pith framed by a toasty flint character. This wine is bright and balanced with a beautifully broad palate.

Illustration by Holly Wales

12. 2015 Becker Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Wilmeth Family Vineyards), $40

A beautifully complex wine, this Cabernet Sauvignon offers a mélange of red and black fruit led by black currant and followed by distinctive eucalyptus-menthol aromas. The fruit-driven palate is framed with an evocative smokiness that ends in a dry, grippy finish.

13. 2015 Becker Vineyards Petite Sirah Reserve Estate, $40

If you’re looking for a robust wine, this is your jam—and I’m not just referring to its qualities of macerated black and blue fruit. Hints of flowers, cocoa powder, and cigar are propped up by a layered structure and persistent tannin.

14. 2014 Duchman Family Winery Aglianico, $28

A stunning red wine, this Italian native grape has found a home in Texas, particularly with this producer. Tart red fruit leads the palate with a touch of savory tomato and dusty red earth for a wine with stark tannic structure that will evolve beautifully in the glass or with more time in the cellar.

15. 2015 Fall Creek Vineyards Tempranillo, $35

A lush yet elegantly structured wine, this Tempranillo from the Salt Lick Vineyards, of Driftwood, is brimming with rich black and blue fruit, Kalamata olive dust, and a kiss of graham cracker from time in an oak barrel.

16. 2016 Kuhlman Cellars Alluve, $28

A velvety, approachable red blend, this wine balances notes of pipe tobacco, ripe red raspberry and cherry, and eucalyptus that transition to an elegantly structured palate with a smoky, alluring finish.

17. 2016 Kuhlman Cellars Gypsum, $19

A lighter style of red wine, this blend of Mourvèdre, Malbec, Carignan, and Tempranillo is brimming with notes of Tarja cranberry and raspberry framed by baking spices and followed with notes of forest mushroom.

18. 2013 Lewis Wines Terry County Mourvèdre, $30

Offering a deep complexity and elegant structure balancing tannin and acidity on a tightrope, this wine is a joy, with notes of cranberry and eucalyptus as well as a rustic earthiness.

19. 2014 Llano Estacado Winery THP Tempranillo, $20

With initial aromas of tobacco, savory tomato leaf, and herbs, this wine offers a tart red and black fruit palate with notes of sautéed mushroom, spice, and leather that usher through a soft, velvety finish.

20. 2016 Lost Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, $30

Luscious and complex, this wine offers a laundry list of aromatic descriptors, from fresh tobacco leaf and savory herbs to ripe strawberry and tart black cherry. On the palate, tannins are soft and well integrated.

21. 2016 Messina Hof Private Reserve, Double Barrel, Petite Sirah, $25

Led by cordialed fruit notes of cherries and blackberries and a touch of cola, this wine is fragrant with violets and cherry pipe tobacco. Flavors of candied strawberry dusted with cocoa powder finish out the opulence.

22. 2014 Rivenburgh Mourvèdre, $40

This happy find from a newer Texas producer offers aromas of bright cranberry and black cherry mingled with fresh tobacco leaf, and is tart and racy on the palate.

23. 2016 Ron Yates Sangiovese, $29

Offering a lighter side of the grape commonly found in Chianti, this Sangiovese is elegant and refined, bordering on Burgundian Pinot Noir in style. It features characteristic flavors of tart red cherry and dried sage, with a smoky finish.

24. 2016 Stone House Vineyard Claros, $30

Made from 100 percent Norton, Claros is hypnotic from the very beginning, with the brooding character of stewed plum and baking spices. This wine is bold and an utterly hedonistic indulgence.

25. 2014 Tatum Cellars Mourvèdre, $50

Rich and concentrated, this Mourvèdre is reminiscent of classic French Bandol, with tones of rich blackberry and blueberry dusted with dried savory herbs. Time in the glass reveals deep complexity.

26. 2016 Trilogy Cellars KAB, $48

Rich aromas of macerated black cherry and stewed strawberry commingle with savory notes of balsamic vinegar and transition to a palate that lingers with candied fruit and a rustic grip of tannin.

27. 2016 Trilogy Cellars 331, $36

High tones of lush red strawberry and summer cherries are framed by brûléed brown sugar and smoke with this balanced blend of Malbec and Merlot. On the palate, red characters are provocatively tart and earthy, transitioning to a velvety finish.

28. 2015 Westcave Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, $40

A big wine for Texas, this Cabernet Sauvignon offers notes of vanilla and cocoa dust backed by macerated cherry and black currant. Leathery and beautifully structured on the palate, this wine is grippy now but will soften with time in the bottle.

29. 2016 William Chris Vineyards Sangiovese (Narra Vineyards), $36

A concentrated style of Sangiovese, this wine is savory and earthy, with aromas of tomato and sautéed mushroom. The fruit is tart on the palate and framed by a bold, complex structure.

30. 2015 William Chris Vineyards Skeleton Key, $34

If a wine could exemplify the word “brooding,” this red blend would be the one. While Cabernet Sauvignon dominates, the best characteristics of Tempranillo, Malbec, Sangiovese, and Syrah culminate to offer rich, jammy notes of blackberry and currant with dusty earth and cocoa powder.


Best California: Rutherford Hill Barrel Select Red Blend 2016

  • Region: California, Napa Valley
  • ABV: 14.5%
  • Tasting Notes: Plum, oak, chocolate, cherry, raspberry

Napa Valley outfit Rutherford Hill has for many decades specialized in making their fantastic merlot. That top-notch merlot makes a splash in this 2016 red blend, an excellent representation of Napa Valley ingenuity from their celebrated winemaker, Marisa Taylor. Bold and fairly dry, this wine is packed with pleasant acidity and limber tannins.


Top 5 Mother's Day Wines

Terramater means "Mother Earth," and this wine marries the distinctive character of Chilean soil with grapes that are more associated with California (Zinfandel) and Australia (Shiraz). As always, mother knows what works best: The wine has delicious flavors of blackberries, spice, and smoke. It reminds me of the advice my own mother used to give me: Be firm but warm.

Meaty Recipe Pairing: Slow-Braised Short Ribs, Lardons, And Baby Vegetables

The Zin-Shiraz combo matches the smoky sweet flavors of the ribs with its own smoky/sweet flavors.

Slow-Braised Short Ribs, Lardons, and Baby Vegetables

Meatless Recipe Pairing: Grilled Pizza Margherita

Both Zinfandel and Shiraz often make for great pizza wines because they are packed with berry flavors but none of the mouth-drying tannins found in Cabernets.

Grilled Pizza Margherita

Gallo Family Vineyards Sonoma Reserve 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, California

Gallo's image as a jug wine is changing, not only with terrific bottles such as this one, but also with a new generation of winemakers. Foremost among them is Gina Gallo, who completed the viticulture program at UC Davis and learned her craft from her grandfather Julio, who started the business in 1933. This full-bodied number is bursting with aromas of dark plums, blackberries, and spice.

Meaty Recipe Pairing: Roast Racks Of Lamb With New Potatoes And Mint Pesto

Cab is a classic match with lamb because of its complementary dark berry and mint aromas.

Roast Racks of Lamb with New Potatoes and Mint Pesto

Meatless Recipe Pairing: Vegetarian Cassoulet

This crunchy, rustic cassoulet needs something full-bodied to stand up to it this Cab does the

Vegetarian Cassoulet

Peter Lehmann 2007 Eden Valley Riesling, Australia

Peter Lehmann is not only famous for his wines, but also for the artwork on his bottle labels. Often these feature women, such as the Queen of Clubs, who represents the gamble that winemakers took in the seventies to establish the Australian wine industry. The wine has vibrant floral and citrus aromas, a product of the cool climate in the Eden Valley.

Riesling-Poached Trout with Thyme

Meaty Recipe Pairing: Riesling-Poached Trout With Thyme

It's easy to match a wine with a dish when they have similar flavor components: In this case, both share refreshing lime notes.

Meatless Recipe Pairing: Caesar Salad With Herbed Croutons

The zesty Riesling cuts through the creamy, tangy flavors of this classic salad.

Caesar Salad with Herbed Croutons

Veuve Clicquot Non-Vintage Champagne, France

Many of the famous Champagnes of France bear the names of the young "veuves" (widows) who ran these wineries when their husbands died due to illness or the ravages of war. Bollinger, Pommery, and Perrier-Laurent are just a few of their names, but perhaps the most famous of all is Barbe Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin of Veuve Clicquot. She was a brilliant marketer and a tough old bird. This bubbly has alluring aromas of ripe pears and hazelnuts, with a long toasty finish.

Ham, Leek, and Three-Cheese Quiche

Meaty Recipe Pairing: Ham, Leek, And Three-Cheese Quiche

The refreshing acidity in the bubbly cuts through the rich and creamy quiche for the perfect brunch combo.

Meatless Recipe Pairing: Asparagus With Morels And Tarragon

The effervescence in the Champagne prepares the palate for the exuberant flavors in this green, classic spring dish.


Spring Pasta Dinners

When you need a meal that’s light yet satisfying, reach for these recipes. From delicate noodles tossed with tender green herbs to plates of penne topped with seasonal veggies — these pasta dishes celebrate the best of spring’s bounty.

Related To:

Photo By: Kate Mathis ©© 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Kate Mathis ©(C) 2013 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Antonis Achilleos

Penne with Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes

Giada's quick penne is easy to whip up on a weeknight but impressive enough that some fans have even served it for a holiday dinner.

Lemon Spaghetti with Shrimp

Giada&rsquos yummy pasta is the perfect dish for a warm spring night. After tossing the spaghetti with shrimp and a lemon dressing, add fried capers for a crisp, flavor-packed bite.

Spring Vegetable Fettuccine Alfredo

Spring Pasta Salad

"The little green peas and salty ricotta salata make a killer combo," says Jeff.

Gemelli with Pesto, Potatoes and Green Beans

This savory pasta dish combines potatoes and green beans with pesto and lemon juice to give your weeknight dinner a refreshing burst of flavor.

Pesto Pasta with Shrimp

Greek yogurt gives this classic pesto recipe a creamy, tangy finish. Top your dish with toasted breadcrumbs for an added crunch.

Chicken Piccata Pasta Toss

Spaghetti Puttanesca with Escarole Salad

To infuse the escarole with tangy flavors, make a dressing with anchovies, grated garlic, vinegar and mustard.

Lemon and Pea Alfredo

Giada uses creamy mascarpone cheese and freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano to coat this curly pasta dish in a dreamy alfredo-like sauce.

Lemon-Butter Sauce with Chiles

Take a shortcut to dinner with this five-minute sauce.

Orecchiette with Ramps and Favas

"Nothing says spring like ramps. Their garlicky flavor pairs perfectly with the spicy Italian sausage," says Michael.

Asparagus Pesto Pasta

Want to sneak some veggies into your pasta for a healthier meal? A homemade pesto sauce will do the trick, livening everything up with plenty of flavor.

Farmer's Pasta

This easy pasta dish has it all: a creamy sauce, golden-brown crust and fresh green herbs. Best of all, it only requires 25 minutes of prep work.

Gnocchi Primavera

Store-bought potato gnocchi makes this dish a quick weeknight meal. Some Parmesan cheese and lemon zest make the perfect sauce to use up spring produce.

Spaghetti with Chianti and Fava Beans

Add some color to your dinner table (and menu) with this wine-infused pasta dish. To make your noodles purple, boil them directly in a pot of Chianti wine. Top with spicy Italian sausage, velvety mascarpone and sweet fava beans for a one-of-a-kind meal.

Cacio e Pepe with Pancetta and Arugula

Take classic cacio e pepe to the next level by adding in crispy pancetta and peppery arugula.

Fettuccine with Creamy Pesto

Not only is this velvety pasta dish done in just 25 minutes, you can also cook the pasta and spinach together in the same pot!

Garden Pasta With Bocconcini

This simple pasta dish is light, bright and refreshing thanks to cherry tomatoes and zucchini, tangy red wine vinegar and plenty of fresh basil.

Linguine with Asparagus

Don't have asparagus on hand? Nancy Fuller recommends adding fresh spinach or artichoke hearts instead.

Whole-Wheat Pasta with Sausage and Swiss Chard

Keep your chard stems for this one. They add texture to the pasta sauce &mdash and add extra antioxidants.

Creamy Farfalle with Cremini, Asparagus and Walnuts

Orecchiette with Truffle-Asparagus Pesto

You'll find an unexpected umami flavor in this pesto thanks to truffle pecorino cheese, plus a bit of texture from toasted hazelnuts.

Penne with Baby Artichokes, Black Olives and Peas

Fiery Angel Hair Pasta

Giada takes basic pantry ingredients to the next level with her simple (but oh-so-flavorful) pasta. The secret? She infuses olive oil with crushed red pepper flakes. It takes a few hours to make the chili oil, but it can be done ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Warm Tortellini and Roasted Vegetable Salad

This veggie-packed pasta salad is the perfect dish for those colder spring days. It&rsquos heavy enough to fill you up without being dense.


Six red wines that you should be drinking this spring

The French and Italian wines offer exceptional value.

2015 Vermeil XXXIV Frediani Vineyard Red Wine Blend

Dale Robertson / Contributor Show More Show Less

Dale Robertson / Contributor Show More Show Less

2018 Marchesi Incisa della Rocchetta Valmorena Barbera d’Asti

Dale Robertson / Contributor Show More Show Less

2018 Acumen Mountainside Red Wine Napa Valley

Dale Robertson / Contributor Show More Show Less

6 of 7 2016 Mt. Brave Mt. Veeder Merlot Dale Robertson / Contributor Show More Show Less

2017 J. Lohr Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles

Dale Robertson / Contributor Show More Show Less

These recommended reds, each evaluated by a member of the Chronicle&rsquos tasting panel, represent very distinct terroirs, although three of them were made from Napa Valley grapes. The French and Italian wines offer exceptional value.

2015 Vermeil XXXIV Frediani Vineyard Red Wine Blend

19.2 (9.2 for quality, 10 for value)

The wine: The vintage was the first for Thomas Brown, already a Napa Valley rock star, as Dick Vermeil&rsquos consulting winemaker, working alongside the in-house winemaker, Andy Jones. For the XXXIV &mdash that was the Super Bowl Vermeil won coaching the St. Louis Rams &mdash they went with a four-grape blend: cabernet sauvignon (35 percent), cabernet franc (28), zinfandel (23) and petite sirah (14).

Taster&rsquos take: &ldquoBright blueberry notes. Fresh, clean and light.&rdquo

Critical acclaim: The Wine Enthusiast awarded it a score of 93.

$27.97 at Spec&rsquos

2019 Saint Cosme Côtes-du-Rhone

19.1 (9.1 for quality, 10 for value)

The wine: From a stellar vintage, arguably the best since 2010, it&rsquos a blend of syrah grapes from the Gard on the right bank of the Rhône and Vinsobres on the left, where the vineyards are at about 1,200 feet.

Taster&rsquos take: &ldquoRich and vibrant with cooked cherry notes. Begs for a barbecue pairing.&rdquo

Critical acclaim: Three awarded it scores of at least 9, including a 91 from Robert Parker&rsquos Wine Advocate.

$15.49 at Spec&rsquos

2018 Marchesi Incisa della Rocchetta Valmorena Barbera d&rsquoAsti

19 (9 for quality, 10 for value)

The wine: The hand-harvested barbera grapes were vinified in stainless-steel tanks, with malolactic fermentation occurring naturally, before resting for several additional months in the bottle.

Taster&rsquos take: &ldquoBright acidity with red fruit. Spicy, peppery.&rdquo

Critical acclaim: It earned three scores of at least 90, including a 91 from Wilfred Wong of wine.com.

$15.19 at Spec&rsquos

2018 Acumen Mountainside Red Wine Napa Valley

18.7 (9.2 for quality, 9.5 for value)

The wine: From what&rsquos considered a dream vintage with above-average yields, it&rsquos about two-thirds cabernet with merlot, petit Verdot and zinfandel making up the rest. Winemaker Henrik Poulsen barrel-aged the wine for 18 months in French oak.

Taster&rsquos take: &ldquoBright red and dark fruit flavors. Spicy. Chewy.&rdquo

Critical acclaim: It earned a 92 from wine.com&rsquos Wilfred Wong.

The winery: Entrepreneur Eric Yuan (not to be confused with the founder of Zoom Communications, who has the same name) launched his Acumen and Peak wines in 2012. All the grapes are grown either organically or sustainably.

$45 at acumenwine.com

2016 Mt. Brave Mt. Veeder Merlot

17.8 (9.3 for quality, 8.5 for value)

The wine: In 2007, winemaker Chris Carpenter launched the Mt. Brave project, using fruit from what was once the Chateau Potelle Vineyard, located between 1,400 and 1,800 feet in elevation on the hillside, where the gravelly loam soils, lacking minerals and nutrients, produce tiny berries with concentrated, complex flavor profiles.

Taster&rsquos take: &ldquoBlackberry and cherry flavors with a hint of chocolate.&rdquo

Critical acclaim: The Wine Enthusiast awarded it a score of 94, deeming it a Cellar Selection: &ldquoBest from 2026 through 2031.&rdquo

$94.99 at wine.com

2017 J. Lohr Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles

17.8 (9.3 for quality, 8.5 for value)

The wine: Created to celebrate founder Jerry Lohr&rsquos 80th birthday, the blend includes small amounts of cabernet franc, malbec and a rare Bordeaux varietal called Saint-Macaire. Aging took place in new French oak for 18 months.

Taster&rsquos take: &ldquoChecks all the big cab boxes, brings density and a savory character. Malbec add structure, color and a component of bright fruit.&rdquo

Critical acclaim: Jeb Dunnuck awarded it a score of 93: &ldquoA beautiful wine &hellip I&rsquod give bottles two-three years to shed a touch of baby fat and develop more nuances, and it should keep for over a decade.&rdquo


Top Five Red Wines for Fillet Steak

A whole fillet of beef is one of my favourite things to cook on a braai. Actually, it’s one of my favourite things to cook in the oven as well, because it’s quick, easy, incredibly tasty and fabulously decadent as well!

My top tips for cooking a fillet are 1) oil the meat, not the pan or the grill and 2) let it rest somewhere warm for at least two minutes longer than you think you need to! I like it rolled in cracked black pepper before hand and, if I’m feeling unusually organised, I will make a creamy wholegrain mustard and mushroom sauce to go with it as well.

So when I have gone to all this trouble over the food, I want to make sure that my wine matches it to perfection. I’ve been very fortunate recently to have come across some top-class red wines, all of which would be amazing with fillet steak, none of which comes in at what I would term an ‘everyday price.’ But, as my mother would say, ‘a little of what you fancy, does you good’, so next time you fancy fillet – why don’t you splash out and give one of these a go as well??

Russo 2007 Bordeaux Blend R102 from the farm www.russowines.co.za
This is the maiden harvest from Durbanville boutique cellar, Russo – an Anglicised version of owners Henk and Teresa Rossouw’s name. Teresa is the winemaker and in this Bordeaux blend of Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot, it is the Cab Franc currently dominating on the nose with tomato leaves and licorice. Well-integrated tannins, supple, spicy oak and plenty of lively black fruit. An impressive debut.

Nitida Calligraphy 2009 R115 from leading independent retailers

This has been missing from the shelves for the last few years as Nitida waited for the vineyards to be replanted. Five years after the last Calligraphy was released, it has stormed back into contention winning medals within a month of bottling,and tasting as if it never went away. A large dollop of Cabernet Franc adds spice and liveliness to the soft, rounded Merlot whilst the Cabernet Sauvignon brings colour, depth and length. One of my favourite Bordeaux blends and I am delighted to see it back at such a good price.

Hartenberg Shiraz 2006 R130 cellar door and leading independent retailers
This is the cheapest of the trio of Shirazes I am recommending today – which does not surprise me one whit. Hartenberg is a true class act with nothing to prove when it comes to making top-class wines of power, elegance and longevity. They have the largest privately-owned maturation cellar in SA and winemaker Carl Schultz says his wines can go for 20 or even 30 years with ease. Full of spice and red fruit with ripe tannins and perfumed aromatics.

Cape to Cairo Syrah 2006 R150 OR R350 for 6 bottles in wooden case with map.
This is made by legendary Syrah winemaker, Nico van der Merwe of Saxenburg but the owner of the brand is patent lawyer, Otto Gerntholtz and the groovy packaging is inspired by his travels in Africa. The wine itself is extremely approachable with lush, elegant tannins, ripe, sweet black fruit and a pleasing backbone and length. All the typical Syrah notes – pepper and violets – wrapped up in dark spicy oak.


Make it at home: Russian spring punch

30ml vodka
15ml lemon juice
7.5ml crème de cassis (a good one makes all the difference)
10ml simple syrup
Dry sparkling wine, to top

Build all but the sparkling wine in shaker. Add ice, shake to chill, and double strain into a collins glass filled with ice. Top with whatever sparkling wine is going. Garnish liberally with fresh raspberries, blackberries, lemon slices and so on.

Pair with a novel: To the Hermitage, by Malcolm Bradbury


How to Serve Red Wine

Serve most red wines, including Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots, slightly cooler than room temperature (about 60-65 degrees), and serve lighter reds, such as Pinot Noir, anywhere from 55-60 degrees. Chilling red wine briefly (10 minutes in an ice bucket or 30 minutes in the refrigerator) can help bring it to the temperatures listed above.

Next, see our favorite recipes to pair with red wine.

Based on the basic wine and food pairing suggestions from the first page, we&aposve chosen three of our top recipes that pair well with each red wine. Whether you make these recipes for a special occasion, a party, or dinner tonight, you&aposll know the perfect red wine to complement your food.


Watch the video: Έφτασε η Άνοιξη (May 2022).