The Biscayne Times

May 21st
Holiday Reds PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jacqueline Coleman, BT Contributor   
December 2017

Red, white, and you: Agreeable wine for $12 or less

DPix_Vino_12-17ecember marks the start of our busiest event season here in South Florida. From Art Basel to the Orange Bowl, there’s never a dull moment as we get glammed up to attend gallery openings and galas galore. Throw in some holiday mixers and a few football games, and you won’t have a full night’s sleep until well into the New Year  -- if you try to do it all. Lucky for us, we can do it all here without having to pull out a snowplow.

The wonderful thing about the holiday season is that even in Miami, where it’s still too hot for ugly-sweater parties, big red wines are back in style, and we can open a bottle of our favorite Cabernet, Merlot, or Bordeaux without worrying about violating a seasonally appropriate wine-drinking rule.

Even though many of us will be taking some time off over the next few weeks, between the stress of buying presents, attending fancy functions, and the BCS bowl games, it’s nice to really slow down and enjoy the once-a-year yuletide cheer.

One of my favorite things to do when the days get shorter and the mall checkout lines get longer is grab some friends, a few bottles of bold red wine, and have an intimate, no-frills dinner party where pleasant conversation and relaxation are also valued guests. If you’d also like to take some time to welcome our big reds back to the dinner table, here are a few bottles to consider.

When you think of a bold Cabernet, California is often the first region to come to mind, but I challenge you to venture further north to Washington State. It’s no secret I’m a big Washington wine fan, and I’ve never been disappointed by Chateau Ste. Michelle. The Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon is a consistent non-vintage Cabernet from the Columbia Valley, with smooth tannins and dark chocolate and berries on the palate for a perfect dinner accompaniment.

Back down in California, the 2015 Handcraft Dark Red Wine blend by Cheryl Indelicato shows a little more flavor from the red fruit category, with raspberry and cherry predominant on the nose and palate. A touch of vanilla spice from light oak aging and an ambiguous “Italian” varietal profile give this wine a mysterious complexity that will intrigue your favorite wine-loving friends.

If Bordeaux is your bold go-to, check out the 2015 Vallon d’Arche Bordeaux, which is much earthier on the nose than the fruit-forward California Cabs. Bright red fruits are expressed on the palate, but a hint of pepper from the Cabernet Franc in this blend gives the 85 percent Merlot a little more weight. Soft tannins and a brief finish round out the experience of tasting this budget Bordeaux.

South American wines have emerged as strong contenders for respectable reds, and the 2016 Trivento Malbec Reserve from Mendoza in Argentina is a good example. Deep purple with dark cherry and spicy chocolate flavors from six months in French oak, this wine offers something more interesting to drink. Full and fleshy tannins, along with a full-bodied finish make this Malbec an Argentine star.

The 2013 Santa Ema Merlot Reserva out of the Maipo Valley in Chile is slightly lighter, but still holds its own with a relatively strong structure for this medium-bodied wine. With its good balance of red berries and vanilla with a hint of spice, a fair amount of acidity, and mild tannins, this is an extremely pleasant and economical Merlot.

For a velvety crowd pleaser, consider a 2016 Andrew Peace “Masterpeace” Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon out of Australia. Predominately Shiraz, this blend has a kick of spice that would work perfect for a peppery meal. Enjoy rich black fruit flavors, followed by a dark chocolate surprise on the back of the tongue, layered with decent tannins and a strong Down Under structure.

We complete our journey through big red season back in California with a classic 2013 Cloud Break Zinfandel. This is a typical Zin with juicy cranberries and cherries exploding through your nose and palate. A hint of pepper and a smidge of vanilla, but it’s more about the fruit for this wine. Tannins are light, and drinkability is pleasant, making this a lovely wine for holiday time.


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