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Red Wines to ward off the El Niño blues

Hello! I'm back with some new reviews and a new segment I'm going to call: "Grape of the Week." 

The past few weeks have seen some major changes in my company. As such, I have been extremely busy working on a massive side project that has taken up much of my free time. I hope when it is complete, it will make things much easier for our clients to find the wines they are looking for. More on that later. Right now, let's check out some delicious wines!

 For this week's installment I have selected three amazing red wines for under $20: DeLoach's (Central Coast) Pinot Noir; Haut Logat's (Haut Medoc) Bordeaux; and Frattoria del Cerro's (Tuscan) Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

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One of the best things about DeLoach's Central Coast Pinot Noir for me, and one of its biggest draws for many of my clients, is that it does not taste like traditionally light-to-medium-body Pinot Noirs. As my tasting experiences have added up, and my palate has become more "sophisticated," I have found that I prefer more 'Old World' wines—wines that are more rustic, full bodied, and full of flavorful nuances like rich tobacco and a leathery, earthiness.

The DeLoach Central Coast Pinot Noir appeals to me because it has more deep, dark, rich fruit and earth notes to it than most other Pinot Noirs.

On the nose you get a big hit of those deep, dark black fruits: black cherry, black raspberry, plum, and baking spices. The wine is darker in color, too, compared to typical Pinot Noirs. The palate is a mouth filling delight of red plums, black raspberry, cherries, and a spiced citrus finish.

This wine will pair nicely with a seared ahi tuna salad, braised lamb, and even a nice, juicy Central Coast tri-tip sandwich.

Price Range: $14-$18

Looking for a delicious wine to pair with your beef stew on these cold, wet El Niño winter days? Look no further that Haut Logat's (Haut Medoc) Bordeaux blend. This wine is more Merlot than Cabernet, so it's softer and more balanced than heartier California red blends.

The nose of this wine greets you with aromas of dark plums and a soft earthiness. As you would expect from a good Bordeaux, the palate is not too fruity, not too earthy, it is not too tannic or too acidic. This is a very nicely balanced wine. The chalky earth allows the fruit to come through with just enough intensity as to make this a very drinkable wine. Pair it with beef stew for best results, or try it with rotisserie chicken and steamed veggies. It even makes for a nice pre-dinner wine with cheese and crackers.

Price Range: $15-$19

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And now, one of my favorite "Old World" wines: Fattoria del Cerro's Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Do not confuse this with Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. Unlike Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, which is its own grape varietal and grown primarily on Italy's eastern coast, Vino Nobile de Montepulciano is actually a varietal of Sangiovese grown near the town of Montepulciano near Siena, in Tuscany.

For those who love Sangiovese, Brunello Montalcino in particular, but don't want to spend a small fortune, Vino Nobile de Montepulciano is the way to go. With this wine you get pleasing aromas of bright Cherry, cured meat, and well seasoned oak barrel. The palate fills your mouth with a medium-to-medium-plus body of deep, dark cherry, baking spice, (particularly cinnamon and clove), rich, leathery tobacco, and a port-like raisin finish. Pair this wine with anything from Charcuterie and flavorful cheeses, to lasagna, wood fired pizzas, or Steak Melanese.

Price Range: $17-$22

Grape of the Week

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In my new segment, "Grape of the Week", I'm going to introduce you to ALBARIÑO. Some of you may already know this delicious, crisp, light Spanish wine, and some of you may also know it by its Portuguese name, Alvarinho or Vinho Verde. For those of you who have never heard of it, or who have heard of it, but never tried it, you are in for a treat!

Depending on where it is planted (cooler climate vs warmer climate), and when it is harvested (early or late), Albariño has a range of flavors, from Honeydew Melon and Quince to White Peach and Citrus, and has aromas of melon fruits to white flowers. 

It is a fairly acidic wine that wakes up your palate and prepares it to taste the delicious fruit flavors that accompany it. Albariño is typically paired with Paella and other light dishes, including seafood. It is a great summertime alternative to Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. Albariño is not an expensive wine, most can be bought around the $10-$15 price range, but I have seen some in the low $20 price range. The next time you are looking for a new or different wine to pair with your seafood, try an Albariño, you just might be surprised at how delicious your meal tastes compared to previous times. And don't forget it when Summer rolls around. Albariño makes a refreshing, pool-side drink.