This latest entry looks at three red wines from France, the United States, and Italy. All delicious, all great values.
RED 11/16/12 2010 Christopher Buisson Bourgogne Saint-Romain Cote d’Or (12.5% abv., $25, Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants): Brilliant, light ruby in the glass, this pinot noir offers ample aromas of strawberry and damp earth, with hints of vanilla. In the mouth the combination of bright acids and tart berry and cherry cola flavors are balanced out by notes of herbs and oak and fine, mouth-coating tannins, all leading to a light, lingering finish. Conclusion: this is not a wine for the pinot noir fan who prefers more substantial wines. It’s light, almost to the point of being austere, and would not be enjoyed by the wine drinker looking for something more robust in his glass. But if you like your pinots on the subtle side, this might be just what you’re looking for.
RED 11/23/12 2010 Lasseter Family Winery “Chemin de Fer,” Sonoma Valley Estate (14.8% abv., $35, Winery): This Rhone-style blend of Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre is a nearly opaque, garnet–to-ruby-rose in the glass, with an initially reticent nose offering only muted hints of red fruit. An hour later, the wine flourishes, redolent with notes of raspberry, lavender, and spice. Lush, intense, with a wee bit of alcohol sticking out, and offering tannins that are firm and smooth, almost fatty, this homage to John and Nancy Lasseter’s affection for the railroad, is a balanced, well-integrated, polished wine. Conclusion: this youthful wine is luscious; ready to drink now but capable of being cellared for several more years. The noticeable alcohol, which somehow avoids being hot in the throat or nose, will settle down in time.
RED 11/30/12 2009 Cavalchina Bardolino, Veneto, Italy (12% abv., $16.99, Du Vin Fine Wines): I’m not normally one to relate a wine’s label to what might be in the bottle, but I’ll confess that this wine’s plain design, which is something I usually appreciate, kept telling me that Cavalchina’s bardolino wasn’t worth my time. So it sat in my cellar, passed over time and again, for wines I thought would be more interesting. What a mistake. This light, cherry red wine, with pronounced aromas of raspberries, cherry syrup, and stone dust, was a pleasure from the moment it left the bottle. Low in alcohol, tannins, and body, but with bright acids and flavors mimicking the nose, this simple wine is the absolute definition of refreshing, which is not a word red wines tend to evoke for me. Conclusion: this is a solid quaffer; versatile, well-made, and perfect for light meals, and guaranteed to be a winner for those sunny afternoons on the patio, no matter the time of year.