Wine Reviews: Warm Winter Reds

Wintertime is here, and I hope you’re looking forward to the holidays. It’s getting colder, and I made my first cassoulet of the season, so it’s time for warming red wines.

And with the World Cup going on, I decided to round up some red wines from around the world that would be great options for the winter season. I also wanted to highlight some serious values as well, and many of these wines fit that bill.

From Chile to Napa, I have some Cabernets that offer a lot of richness and depth for not a lot of money. And there’s a delightful Tuscan red and Barossa Shiraz in here as well.

Rioja is always a good call in my book, and this week I have three from Bodegas Montecillo – a producer that has 150 years of winemaking history and sources their grapes mostly from the Rioja Alta subregion. The value in these wines is seriously impressive, and they have the ability to age and improve in the cellar for a while.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2017 Colle Massari Montecucco Rosso Riserva – Italy, Tuscany, Montecucco
SRP: $25
Vibrant purple color. Lovely nose of black cherries, tart black currants and some fig paste, with lovely depth of spicy and herbal tones, including roasted meats, rocky hillsides, violets, wild herbs – a lot to parse out. Refreshing acidity and dusty tannins make for a finely balanced wine, full of tangy currant fruit. I love the stony, mineral, sun-roasted rock feel to this wine, along with the complexity and enticing nature of the herbal, earthy, and savory nuances. This begs for cold nights and your best braised meat recipe. Serious value alert! (91 points IJB)

2018 Yalumba Shiraz Samuel’s Collection – Australia, South Australia, Barossa
SRP: $20
Deep purple color. A dark but juicy Barossa nose of plums, blueberries, with a mix of spicy, peppery, savory elements, including black pepper, balsamic glaze and anise. The palate is jammy but fresh with chewy tannins and moderating acidity, with ripe blueberries and sweet black cherries. Notes of pepper, sage, leather, black olive and spiced tea add a lot of fun and complexity. An accessible but shows depth and balance, too. (89 points IJB)

2020 Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon Cuvée Alexandre Apalta Vineyard – Chile, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley
SRP: $26
Dark purple color. Juicy but deep on the nose with dark currants and saucy plums. Notes of charcoal, anise, pepper, mesquite and grilled steak add complexity. Moderately grippy tannins balance nicely with vibrant acidity and a core of dark, tangy fruit (blueberries, blackberries). I get notes of earth, anise, paved road, graphite and some coffee. Forward but complex, this is delicious now but could also hold for a few years. (90 points IJB)

2018 Bodegas Beronia Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
SRP: $15
Vibrant ruby color. Aromas of raspberries and red currants, with tones of tobacco, sage, earthy vibes, with floral potpourri. The palate sports dusty tannins an lively acidity, and this medium/full-bodied wine has a nice lively balance. Tart currants and strawberries, the fruit is crunchy and juicy, mixed with tobacco, pepper, rose petals, and earthy, mineral undertones. A reliably delicious Rioja value, here.  (88 points IJB)

2017 Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
SRP: $13
Medium ruby. The nose has a nice compote of raspberries, cherries and cranberries, with notes of cigar box, white pepper and dried roses. Plums and sweet cherries with soft tannins and smooth acidity. Black cherry and cranberry relish fruit mix with notes of tobacco, cedar, white pepper, some smoky, graphite elements, too. Fresh, fun, a crowd-pleasing style at a great price point. (87 points IJB)

2017 Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
SRP: $13
Deep ruby color. The nose sports juicy cherries and raspberries, with a floral-spicy combo, black pepper, tar, anise – a lot going on. The palate is tangy and ripe with dusty tannins and crisp acidity, backed up by black cherries and dark plums. There’s a complex mix of sage, oregano, pepper, tobacco and some sweeter-savory tones of violets, roasted red peppers and coffee. Fun and forward, but the level of balance and complexity at this price point is impressive. Aged 18 months in American oak. (88 points IJB)

2014 Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
SRP: $20
Bright ruby color. So spicy on the nose, with pepper and paprika, over classic Rioja goodness: tangy red and black currants, topped in smoky, earthy, clay and pencil shaving tones. On the palate, the tannins are structured but refined, with moderate-plus acidity, balanced so nicely with tangy currant and tart plum fruit. The non-fruit elements are really what make this wine shine: clay and dusty earth, light roast coffee and pine tar, these floral and cigar box tones. Delightful now, but holding for a few would benefit this wine. Aged 24 months in French and American oak. (89 points IJB)

2011 Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Gran Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
SRP: $23
Deep ruby color. Dusty, earthy, floral and savory tones are very expressive on the nose, with black cherries, cranberry relish, and mulling spices, beef broth, mushroom, dried flowers. On the palate, the dusty tannins are refined and provide effortless structure, while the acidity is crisp makes the wine so fresh. The cranberry and mulled cherry fruit has a lot of cool nuances, and the non-fruit expression is great: roses, violets, light roast coffee, chewing tobacco, earthy-gravelly elements, soy and mushroom flavors This is really vibrant, spicy and nuanced, and could offer even more in a few years. Crazy value in this Rioja! Aged 28 months in French oak. (90 points IJB)

2019 Castello di Amorosa Pinot Noir Carneros – USA, California, Napa/Sonoma, Carneros
SRP: $42
Deep ruby color. The nose shows sweet cherries and plums, tart blueberries, along with rhubarb, spiced tea and cola tones. Sweet tannins on the palate, moderate acidity, with a host of juicy fruits (raspberries, blueberries, black cherries). Notes of violets, rose petals, spiced tea, light roast coffee and toffee add complexity. Fun and juicy but some nice spicy complexity as well. Aged 11 months in 45% new French oak. (89 points IJB)

2019 Barra of Mendocino Petite Sirah – USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino
SRP: $26
Dark purple color. Deep nose of black cherries and blackberry jam, mixed with spicy pepper, tobacco, violets and some coffee and magic marker. Full but fresh, a chewy but smooth feel with lively acidity, nicely balanced example of this variety. Black cherry and roasted fig fruit, dark and suave, with flavors of smoky earth, anise, toffee, mocha and vanilla. Delicious, fun Petite Sirah and a great cold weather wine. (89 points IJB)

2019 Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Sonoma County
SRP: $22
Medium purple color. Aromas show jammy plums and blueberries, along with sweet coffee and toffee, some clove and mint chocolate chips. Ripe and jammy on the palate with soft tannins and medium/low acidity, with flavors of plum sauce and sweet black cherries. Notes of pepper, toffee and coffee add yumminess. Juicy, fun, straightforward style. From Mendocino and Sonoma County fruit. (86 points IJB)

2018 Gamble Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
SRP: $60
Vibrant purple color. Saucy and enticing on the nose, with lovely earth, pepper, smoked meats, brisket, dried violets and graphite over the deep core of black currant and blackberry fruit. On the palate, this is refreshing and deep, with grippy tannins and lovely freshness from the acidity. Deep, tangy fruit (blackberry, dark currants), which is laced with complexities of smoky earth, graphite, roasted red pepper, sage and cracked pepper. Hints of toast are woven in expertly and there’s a deep, mineral-laden presence on the finish. This will age wonderfully. (93 points IJB)

By: Isaac Baker
Title: Wine Reviews: Warm Winter Reds
Sourced From:
Published Date: Sat, 10 Dec 2022 16:06:16 +0000



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