Marqués de Riscal Rioja Reserva


A typical Rioja blend of 90% Tempranillo, 7% Graciano and 3%Mazuelo is dark ruby in color, shading to a water-clear edge. Its ripe, delicious black cherry aroma adds a distinct back note of oaky vanilla. Ripe, tart black cherries appear on the palate, framed by firm acidity and raspy tannins. Its 14% alcohol shows as a distinct warmth in the finish.

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Viña Alberdi 2011 Rioja Reserva

Viña Alberdi

From the classic producers La Rioja Alta, this 100 percent Tempranillo Rioja is medium-dark ruby, with a clear edge. Fresh and ripe cherries emerge from the glass, framed by earthy oak, a whiff of black coffee, and a mineral scent of red clay. Bright acidity bursts on the palate with cherries and red cherry-berry fruit.

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Beringer Bourbon Barrel Red Blend

Beringer Bros. 2016 California Bourbon Barrel Aged Red Wine Blend

Bourbon isn’t obvious in the initial aroma of this bourbon-barrel aged wine, which offers black plums and blackberries, but there’s a pleasant sweet caramel note in the background that may come from a bourbon barrel but isn’t far from the scent of a traditional oak wine barrel. Sweet black fruit fills the palate, too, pleasant and sippable. Soft acidity is sufficient to provide structure, and a hint of tannins tickle at the edges of the palate. A hearty 14.5% alcohol, it’s a soft, smooth, slightly sweet wine, a crowd-pleaser.

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Castello di Radda’s Chiantis


Chianti is arguably the most popular Italian red wine in the U. S., says Neil Duarte. “Older wine drinkers like me remember the wicker-basket bottles of Chianti that were prominent 50 years ago in many small family-owned Italian restaurants.” But today’s selections are generally better than in the past, he writes. Read his notes on several Chiantis from Castello di Radda. Read article.

Cozzo Mario “Surì Mesdì” Langhe Nebbiolo

Cozzo Mario

This 100 percent Nebbiolo from the Langhe is a medium garnet color shading to a clear edge. Its attractive scent of plums adds an earthy hint of red clay and a faint back note of wildflowers. Good, mouth-filling red fruit is framed by fresh acidity and soft tannins. Tart plums, earth, and bright acidity last in a very long finish.

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