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    The Top Ten Red Wines from the 2018 Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival

    12799191_1134524279921808_1706357930464291407_nIt was another great wine and food weekend in Newport this year, and as always there were many standout wines.? Every year we list our Top Ten Reds, and Top Ten Whites, as well as a number of honorable mentions.? The only real limitation to these lists is that all wines retail for $100 or less.? We certainly tried several that exceeded this price level, and were great.? The intent here is to highlight wines that an average wine lover would buy, whether for a special occasion, or for everyday, depending on price.
    The overall quality of a wine is one of the deciding factors here, but value is also very important.? In the past few years our #1 wine has been a $20 Californian Syrah and a $40 Cabernet.? You never know how things will turn out.? There are plenty of value driven wines on this list, but this year the top is dominated by wines at the higher end of the range.? They were just too good.

    Here are our favorite reds:

    1. 2013 Ken Forrester “The Bridge” Cabernet Sauvignon – this winery, from Stellenbosch in South Africa, excelled across theIMG_2602 board.? This particular wine was breathtaking.? However is not South African, but instead the result of a collaborative effort between Ken and Sonoma based Jesse Katz.? The fruit is all from Farrow Ranch in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley.? It is 100% Cabernet, rich and luxurious, and beautifully balanced as well.? Only 8 barrels were made.? It retails right about at that $100 price tag, and it is worth it if you can afford to splurge.? We are going to do so.? Just a fabulous, world class bottle of wine.
    IMG_19742. 2012 Trinchero BRV Cabernet Sauvignon – another big and balanced wine, this is from Napa Valley mountain fruit, in this case Mt. Veeder and Atlas Peak.? It is rich and powerful, with all the pieces of a great wine.? This retails at $80, and is worth every penny.? Part of a rather stunning lineup of wines from this producer.? Just a hair below #1, and certainly an argument could be made for either.
    3. 2014 Catena Zapata Nicasia Vineyard Malbec – from the seminar we attended on Friday afternoon, this single IMG_2570vineyard Malbec comes from 3500 feet above sea level, in Mendoza, Argentina.? The gravel soils give it an initial lean quality that opens with time to display beautiful aromas of leather and caramel, along with flowers and dark fruit.? It is incredibly long.? I grabbed a glass of this at the end of the seminar to savor.? Another $100 wine.
    IMG_25854. 2012 Useglian del Vescovo Mille Eottantatre – this Tuscan wine was great and unusual, and poured at Rosecliff during the Friday night gala.? It is from vineyards near Pisa, and is 100% Petit Verdot.? Very complex, very long and very unexpected.? The dark fruits carry the day.? Alas, another $100 bottle of juice.
    5. 2015 Kanonkop Estate Pinotage – let’s take the price level down a notch with this relatively lesser knownIMG-2361 grape, at least to most U.S. consumers.? Pinotage is certainly well known in South Africa, where this wine hails from.? It is a grape which is somewhat Jekyll and Hyde-ish, as we have had very poor ones, and very good ones.? When done right there is a purity to the fruits, which we love.? Here there is caramel and a touch of oak.? This is well done and shows what Pinotage can be.? $45
    IMG_19686. 2015 Pine Ridge Napa Cabernet Sauvignon – a mix of Napa fruit, with 60 % from the Oakville and Rutherford AVAs,? 25% from Stag’s Leap and 15% from Howell Mountain.? This is complex, with berry fruit, vanilla, herbal notes, eucalyptus, smooth tannins and great balance.? Drinking very well right now.? $55
    7. 2014 Bertani Valpantena Amarone – this is aged in small barriques, and is a focused style with a lighter IMG_1926touch then most Amarones.? It is still full bodied, with good fruit, wonderful balance and a very long finish.? They were also pouring the higher end Amarone, which was luscious.? This one is quite different and excellent in its own right. $42
    IMG-23668. 2016 Alexander Valley Vineyards Merlot – a dark red wine with a rich palate and concentrated fruit flavors.? Berry and cherry are front and center.? At the end the spice really comes through.? This has structure and a long finish.? $17 and a great value wine.
    9. 2016 Dafnios Liatiko – a medium bodied wine, with red fruit, earthy tones and a streak of iron that really works.? Tannins build at end.? This is unusual and has a nice long finish.? $15IMG_1990
    10. 2012 Alta Vista Serenade – This is another beautiful Malbec from high altitude vineyards in Mendoza.? A single vineyard wine, it bright and rich, with earthy notes and lots IMG_2587of fruit.? The finish is very long.? $50

    The above represents a great set of red wine, at all price points.? This year the more expensive wines did indeed dominate, yet there were large numbers of other wines well worth mentioning.? Also, interestingly enough, there is not a single Pinot Noir in the Top Ten.? We certainly tried many, and many were very good.? It’s just that none really seemed to stand out above the others.? We certainly do want to be sure we let you know about some of the other wines worth your attention, so here are our Honorable Mentions.

    2015 Catena Appelation Altamira – a favorite at the Malbec seminar.? Very smooth.? $20
    2015 Sonoma Loeb Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir – so close to the Top Ten.? Excellent wine at $45IMG_2583
    2014 Casa Lapostolle Le Petite Clos – Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Merlot blend.? Think an excellent Bordeaux and you’re close. $50
    2015 Gran Moraine Yamhill – Carlten Pinot Noir – rich with dark cherry flavors,? long and full bodied.? $40
    2013 Dry Creek Vineyard – The Mariner – red blend with floral notes and berry fruit.? Seamless, but builds with a quiet power.? $35
    2015 Justin Justification – rich and full bodied red, but has good balance. $40
    2017 Ken Forrester Pat’s Garden Merlot – ripe fruit with lots of spice.? This is a great deal at $21IMG_2580
    2015 Sequoia Grove Napa Cabernet Sauvignon – another great vintage and $45
    2016 Duckhorn Migration Pinot Noir – Russian River fruit, rich and bright – $35
    2016 Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – classic cab for about $20
    2013 Trinchero Mario’s Cabernet Sauvignon – rich and velvety, with balance and depth.? $50
    2015 Skouras Aghiorghitiko – beautiful fruit and easy drinking, with more depth and structure than you think at first.? $15

    We think that anyone can find something they like on the lists above.? We liked them all.

    We’ll publish the list of the Top Ten White Wines next.? Lots to talk about there as well.

    A votre santé!

    1 comment to The Top Ten Red Wines from the 2018 Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival

    • […] 1. 2013 The Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon – a wine by South African wine icon Ken Forrester, but not a South African wine.? This is a collaboration with Sonoma’s Jesse Katz.? It was our top wine from the September Newport Mansion Wine & Food Festival.? Rich yet focused.? Complex and long.? Just a baby but oh so good.? $100, and worth every penny.? Only eight barrels were made. 2. 2015 Hickinbotham ‘Brooks Road’ Shiraz – from a storied vineyard, in the McLaren Vale of South Australia, which has supplied grapes to great wines of the past made by Penfolds and Hardy’s.? Now it provides the material for great wines under the Hickinbotham label.? This was a fruit laser beam.? We also reviewed two Cabs and a Merlot from Hickinbotham, and you’ll see one of them later on. $75 3. 2015 Clif Family Petit Sirah – from one of our favorite winemakers, Laura Barrett.? This is rich, layered and had a beautiful caramel note.? Another focused, yet concentrated and powerful wine.? As with the great reds, you sense the power but appreciate the subtleties. $45 from the winery. 4. 2014 Qupe Rousanne – yes Virginia, we do drink white wine.? This is a great one.? A somewhat unusual, 100% Rousanne from California, the wine is a complex basket of bright, clean but significant aromas and flavors. We loved it. $40 5. 2012 Trinchero BRV Cabernet Sauvignon – another great Cab from the Newport festival, this is big and so rich.? Luxurious is a word that fits perfectly here. Trinchero had a run of great wines that day on their table. This was the best.? $80 6. 2017 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc / Viognier – a blend of 80% Chenin Blanc and 20% Viognier, this is full of peach and pear that just presents beautifully.? Beautiful price too at $12. Big time value wine here. 7. 2016 Dr. Loosen Erdemer Treppehen Riesling – from the Mosel region, and the perfect balance between a touch of sweetness and bright acid, which only a Riesling can do this well.? (O.K. – maybe a Chenin Blanc could too, and a couple of others.? In fact-? just forget I said anything).? This is quality.? $40 8. 2014 Bertani Valpenta Amarone – aged in small barriques, and very focused with a lighter touch than your typical Amarone. Still full bodied and balanced.? $42 9. 2015 Saint Bris Sauvignon Blanc – from vineyards in Burgundy,? 20 miles outside Chablis, but not Chardonnay.? Right there this is different, and it is delicious, bright and clean, but brings some serious elements along for the ride.? $15 and a case buy candidate. 10. 2016 Bernard Griffin Columbia Valley Syrah – from Washington State, this wine is full bodied, has dark fruit and a long finish.? It is a great value as well at $16, and about as good a red wine as you’ll find at that price point. 11. 2018 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages Nouveau – released with the other, young Beaujolais Nouveau, this wine drinks more like a Cru Beaujolais.? It is rather stunning actually, and one of the biggest surprise wines of the year.? I just wasn’t expecting this much depth and substance from a Beaujolais Nouveau.? At $14 it is a steal.? 2018 looks to be a vintage to remember in Beaujolais. 12. 2016 Ken Forrester ‘The FMC’ – always an excellent Chenin Blanc, in some years this goes to ridiculous heights of greatness.? This was also at Newport, and several people dragged their friends to the table to try this while we were going through the wines.? We know why.? Amazing wine.? $65. 13. 2014 El Enemigo Cabernet Franc – Cab Franc is so underrated as a stand alone varietal.? When done right it is just wonderful.? This wine is from the Catena Family of Argentina, and it is done right.? Full body, focused fruit and lots of complex nuances.? $28 14. 2014 Catena Zapata Nicasia Vineyard Malbec – also from Catena, but in another league, this is a single vineyard, high […]

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