Down The Road – The Wine Guy

    As with many other things, sometimes it can be a good idea to buy some of your Fall wines a little early-like now. Why? For one thing, value. Retailers often get better than good terms from their wholesalers at this time of the year for wines that will be in demand later in the year and many are inclined to pass some of that savings onto their customers; you should ask your store. Another reason is variety; the period between Labor Day and Columbus Day is a great time for retailers to bring on new labels and many times, those wines arrive early, so again, ask your retailer if there’s anything new.


    Alright, let’s take a look at some wines that are great to buy now and hold until the cooler temps are here;(not an option at my house, but that’s another column). Take a look at these:


    Rioja 2013 Tempranillo, Santiago, Spain, ($14.95), founded in 1870 in Haro, Rioja Santiago is the second oldest winery in La Rioja, one of only three wineries in the world that, due to age, are permitted to use the word ‘Rioja’ on the label. Today Rioja Santiago is a modern winery, but the philosophy that surrounded the wines for more than 100 years has not changed: producing the highest quality Rioja wines. This wine is 100% Tempranillo fermented over 20 days in temperature-controlled tanks. It aged for 12 months in American oak. It shows ruby red color, red fruit and subtle spicy aromas on the nose. On the palate it is round, well-balanced, well-structured with a pleasant finish. This wine is great with roasts, as well as game meats; try it with a duck confit or prime rib.


    Fidelity 2015 Crazy Creek Estate Red Blend, Alexander Valley, Nick Goldschmidt, ($18.99), Nick Goldschmidt is a rare bird indeed; a superstar winemaker on three different continents starting in New Zealand and ending up in California. And with his years as Chief Winemaker at Simi Vineyards in Sonoma, he knows Alexander Valley like few others. He rates the Crazy Creek Estate where the grapes for this wine are sourced, as one of the top five sites in the region. An amazing value, this Bordeaux-style blend of 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot was aged 12 months in 15% new French Oak barrels. 2015 was an stellar vintage and this wine scored 95 points in the North Coast Wine Challenge where it went head to head with California’s best. They called it “Sassy with class. Beautifully blended.” An enduring and unmistakable value. A one-time Wine Express Wine of the Year!


    Freemark Abbey 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, ($39.95), back in 1976, Freemark Abbey Cabernet was one of the winning wines in the famous Judgment in Paris Tasting. It’s been a Napa Valley staple for decades and today Freemark Abbey is owned by the Jess Jackson family and has a renewed focus and vitality. Robert Parker just wrote “Freemark Abbey has hit pay dirt big-time, with plenty of terrific offerings that are being released now and early in 2019. Winemaker Ted Edwards seems to go from strength to strength and readers looking for top-flight Napa wines priced under $50.00 need to check out several of these immediately, as I’m sure they’ll be huge crowd-pleasers.” This 2014 is 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 6 % Petit Verdot, 6% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc. Decanter Magazine scored this 95 points saying “The estate known today as Freemark Abbey was established in 1886 by one of the first female wine-growers in Napa. Today Ted Edwards is head winemaker, working for the past three decades to develop relationships with growers, allowing exclusive sourcing rights to specific plots, which is crucial to the winery’s success. This wine has been aged for 28 months in a mixture of French and American oak.


    Purple Hands Lone Oak Ranch Oregon Pinot Noir, 2016, ($32.99), just-rated in Wine Spectator’s Insider and ready to drink now, the Purple Hands Lone Oak Ranch Oregon Pinot Noir is utterly delightful. In the summer, we like to have it a little cooler than room temp; set that up and it’s the perfect aperitif as you’re contemplating what to eat or just slowing down as your day is coming to a close. Plank-grilled salmon over a cauliflower puree is a delicious dinner option. Lollipop lamb chops with a mint, basil and tomato salsa for dipping is another great choice. It can be an appetizer or entree. Or, to make the cooking super simple, marinate a butterflied chicken with garlic, shallots, white wine, thyme, rosemary and a spoonful of apricot preserves overnight. Then grill to perfection today and serve it with a green salad tossed with good olive oil and sea salt. Easy as pie and really tasty with this great red!

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