4 Excellent Reds

Although it’s fun to change up the routine and try some new rose’s (see last month’s column), it’s also nice to try some mid-priced reds as well.  This month I’m highlighting 4 lovely red wines ranging from $18.00 to $28.00.  While not exactly low end bargains, they offer excellent value for the quality.  If you’re lucky enough to find a good restaurant locally without an outrageous corkage fee, these would be good candidates to bring along.2010 Morande Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, $18.00 14.5% alc. ChileLight aromas of oak, vanilla, toast and black currant.  Some notes of cassis and burnt plum with earthy, barnyard, black cherry and blackberry aromas. Full-bodied with ripe fruit flavours such as black cherry and blackberry, along with cassis, licorice and eucalyptus. Complex with good structure and mouth-watering acids. Long, warm finish.  Highly Recommended

2009 Hahn Winery Merlot, $20.00 14% alc. California, USA
Purple going to red color. Classic California Merlot nose. Black currant, chocolate, berries and herbs.  Dried herbs, black tea and earth.  Ready to drink.

2011 Ventisquero Cabernet Sauvignon, Grey, $24.00, 14% alc. Chile
Great for the price and style. Dark ruby color. Appealing cassis, menthol, violet, black and green pepper on the nose. Berry, ripe blackberry, mocha palate. Dark cherries and blackberry with a touch of volcanic minerality on the first taste. Touch of cola on the finish. Oak is in the background. Highly Recommended

A bit of explanation about the term “Meritage”.  Several years ago, there was a lot of discussion in the American wine trade about finding a term for a high quality wine produced from a blend of different grapes.  Hostorically, in Europe, the finest wines were usually blends of several different grapes.  In the USA, many consumers were confused and assumed a blend must be an inferior wine.  So the phrase “Meritage” was created to describe a wine made of the traditional French grapes of Cabernet Sauvgnon, Merlot and a few others.  As the wine trade evolved and consumers became a bit more sophisticated, Meritage has faded into the past.  But a few wineries still use the phrase.

2009 Hahn Winery Meritage , $28.00, 14.5% alc.  California, USA
A lovely, bright crimson in the glass. Engaging, pretty aromas of crushed fresh red and black berry fruit laced with camphor and eucalyptus. Some straw and vanilla and baking spice from the oak as well with a slight hint of white pepper. Nice mid-weight palate. It's supple and sleek with powerful flavors without feeling dense or heavy. Rich and layered with fresh currant, blackberry, strawberry, raspberry, cassis, as well as some bay leaf, green fig, plum skin and a peppery, loamy quality. On the finish, suggestions of tobacco and some cedar. Evolves nicely on the palate and has nice structure and balance. Great affordable meritage wine.

M. Stefan has over 20 years experience in the wine trade and has traveled extensively throughout the wine producing regions of the world.  His column is a regular feature of La Playa Community.  He can be reached at mark@playacommunity.com and appreciates your comments.