Following up on last month’s article, I’ll share with you my favorite red wines. I wouldn’t classify myself as either a "red wine guy" or a "white wine guy," but I definitely find myself getting more excited by a fantastic red. Over the years, I’ve experienced red wines from around the world. Growing up, I learned the French and the Italians were the best producers of the world’s red wines. However, in the last 30 years, I’ve seen California, Australia, South America, Oregon, Washington, and South Africa emerge as world-class producers as well.
Before we get started, let me reiterate that one will often tire of a "favorite wine" but then begin a search until they find a new favorite. A favorite wine can last a week, a month, a year, and in some categories, even a lifetime. As I thought long and hard, there were many wines that were favorites, but today’s picks are just that-today’s favorites.
- Easy Drinking Red. Beaujolais and Gamay are always the easiest drinking red wines. The Gamay grape is a cousin of Pinot Noir, yet it’s lighter, softer, and a little fruitier. You’ll find the Amity Vineyards Gamay to be a delicious, fruity, and light bodied red.
- Great Red with a Steak. Barolos from Piedmont have all the body to stand up to a big filet. They’re earthy and a little rough, so they need some aging. Look for a 1994 or 1995-or even earlier.
- Great Red with a Steak and under $20. Syrahs go great with steak and are a fraction of the cost of Barolo. You’ll find the Cote de Rhone, Melodie D’Amour to be a lush, groovy red with soft black fruit.
- Bordeaux. Chateau Latour is an enormous Bordeaux with great body but still accessible. The Rolls Royce of wines is very expensive but probably worth the money. I can still remember the 1979 vintage amazing me when I celebrated its 10th birthday.
- Blow Your Mind Red. Talley Pinot Noir is a full-bodied California Pinot Noir that tastes like a $50 Burgundy-but for only a little more than half that price.
- California Cabernet. Heitz Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet was the first California wine that ever blew me away. I guess not too much has changed, as I continue to be amazed with each new vintage. Although, somehow, the 1972 Heitz Martha’s Vineyard still seems to linger on my palate as one of the most incredible wines I’ve ever tasted.
- Zinfandel. You’ll never go wrong with anything from Ridge. Give me any of their vineyard specific wines, and I’ll be very happy.
- Big, Huge Red. Petite Syrah always tends to be a massive wine. Foppiano is well known to be the master of Petite Syrah. They make a peppery wine with black fruit that needs to age a little. It’ll keep getting better for at least five years after vintage.
- Today’s Favorite Red. Coriole Red Stone Shiraz is a great Shiraz for the money. It has everything you want in an Australian Shiraz, with fruit forward raspberry and other black fruit.
I guess I could go on and on with favorite reds. I’m sure we’ll revisit this list again soon, as I’m continually discovering new wineries and new styles of winemaking. Please don’t hesitate to stop by and ask, "Leo, what’s your favorite red…?" AA!