JJF 2017 – Saint-Joseph, France

So I asked the guy working the counter for Georges at Antic Wines for a St. Joseph that is ready to drink now.  Wines from this small appellation tend to be built for laying down for a bit and, thus, in spite of ample fruit, can burn your palate out with tannin.  I followed instructions and opened the bottle about an hour in advance.  I poured out and sipped a glass out of curiosity and to give the wine an opportunity to breath since I was stuck in a hotel room overlooking one of Lyon’s big dining streets.  There’s plenty of characteristic cherry and strawberry on the nose and, at least after breathing a bit, the fruit and mild acid kick on the front end is just perfect.  With some vanilla and leather and echoes of the tannins that make most St. Josephs perfect for aging, this wine is light on complexity, but finishes just as strongly as it starts.  It went perfectly with the porco preto sausage I had hauled from Lisbon with me – a fantastic afternoon snack before hitting the bouchons. Though the price stretches the bounds of our “everyday” category, it’s a steal for the pricey St. Joseph appellation.

Neré – Sicilia, Italy

Cocoa, strawberries, dark chocolate, and a hint of marzipan on the nose.  There’s a caramel, burnt sugar note on the nose as well.  Excellent bouquet.  That dark chocolate note pays off, with added vanilla and more red berries on the front end.  Strawberries and violets take over as it washes across the tongue.  The tight tannins bring things to a leathery end, with strawberry echoes on a long finish.  Excellent and a shocking value.  For the first time ever I’m cross categorizing a wine because I don’t want those looking for lower priced wine to miss this one!  This is a versatile wine and it went great with bonito d’el Norte and a blazingly spicy Roquefort.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Neré 2017
  • Winery: Feudo Maccari
  • Region: Sicilia D.O.C.
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: Nero D’Avola
  • Price: $16
  • Where to Buy: wine.com

Silk & Spice 2017 – non-DO, Portugal

Fresh red berries and vanilla on the nose.  This is a young wine in an atypical style for Portugal.  Tight tannins on the backend.  An overall velvety, vanilla, red berry heavily (American) oaked and fined, like a U.S. wine.  At this price point, it’s perfect as is.  A great BBQ wine.

  • Rating: Everyday Red
  • Name: Silk & Spice 2017
  • Winery: Possibly a custom blend by the importer, Evaton Inc.
  • Region: A blend of Dão, Bairrada, and Lisboa wines
  • Country: Portugal
  • Varietals: 40% Touriga Nacional, 20% Baga, 20% Syrah and 20% Alicante Bouschet
  • Price: $11

Where to Buy:  www.wine.com

Peloro – Faro, Italy

Fresh flowers and moss on the nose.  Yep.  Fresh and mossy.  A light bodied red fruit explosion sneaks up on the front end, with a hint of vanilla.  Some pleasant green tannins bring this one to an abrupt close, and a lingering hit of that same freshness as it fades out to warm tannins.

  • Rating: Everyday Red
  • Name: Peloro Terre Siciliane Rosso 2014
  • Winery: Le Casematte SRL
  • Region: Faro (Sicily)
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: 70% Nerella Mascalese, 30% Nocera
  • Price: $21
  • Where to Buy: S&R Liquors

Bruno Giacosa 2015 – Dolcetto d’Alba, Italy

A pretty little medium bodied red with no surprises.  Luscious, with red fruit and faint leather and grass notes.  This one is easy-drinking and plays well with a variety of foods and moods.  Don’t think, just drink.

  • Rating: Everyday Red
  • Name: Bruno Giacosa Dolcetto d’Alba 2015
  • Winery: Bruno Giacosa
  • Region: Dolcetto d’Alba
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: Dolcetto
  • Price: ~$25
  • Where to Buy: com

Brolio 2011 – Chianti, Italy

Toasted sugar and strawberry cake on the nose.  Grassy, fresh berries, with slate and cocoa on the front of the palate at first taste.  I have to admit being braced somewhat by the tannins – I did not expect them, so they seemed a bit overdone.  Almonds, marzipan, and a leathery chewiness, with a crisp, almost tart abrupt finish.  A fun ride.

  • Rating: Everyday Red
  • Name: Brolio 2011 Chianti Classico
  • Winery: Barone Ricasoli
  • Region: Chianti
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: Sangiovese 80%, Merlot 15%, Cabernet Sauvignon 5%
  • Price: $20

Cantaperdius – Tarragona, Spain

Ripe red fruits, strawberries, red plums, and, oddly, a hint of charcoal and leather on the nose.  Fascinating combination.  A fresh, acidic opening with more red fruit and grass.  This is a medium bodied beauty great for when you really want a red, but it’s hot and, therefore, everyone is trying to tell you to order white wine.  The finish is quick, spicy, and a bit leathery with a cherry aftertaste.  Light, fun, and summery, kinda like Tarragona itself.

  • Rating: Everyday Red
  • Name: Cantaperdius
  • Winery: Moises Virgili Rovira
  • Region: Tarragona
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: Sumoll, Ull de Llebre
  • Price: 8 Euros
  • Where to Buy: Zona d’Ombra, Barcelona

Borsao Berola 2011 – Campo de Borja, Spain

This one starts with musty mushrooms blended with lots of red fruit preserves and blackberries.  Strawberry and fresh sour plum hit the front of the palate, with white chocolate and hazelnuts following.  Everything comes together with a soft airy tannin finish reminiscent of burnt sugar, with hints of cocoa and coffee.  I’m putting this one as an everyday wine, though it borders on impressive.

  • Rating: Everyday Red
  • Name: Berola 2011
  • Winery: Borsao Bodegas
  • Region: Campo de Borja
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: 70% Garnacha, 20% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Price: $16
  • Where to Buy: Calvert Woodley Wines & Spirits

Tamaral Roble 2013 – Ribera del Duero, Spain

Fresh blackberry and currant on the nose, with faint nutmeg spice.  Violets and dark berries, laced with a faint strain of vanilla come together to finish with a solid, abrupt tannin finish.  A chewiness, with peppercorns and aromatic herbs, lingers after the finish.  A nifty little wine, well balanced and nimble, how a Mazda Miata might compare to a Ferrari.

  • Rating: Everyday Red
  • Name: Tamaral Roble 2013
  • Winery: Bodegas y Viñedos Tamaral
  • Region: Ribera del Duero
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: Tempranillo
  • Price: $17
  • Where to Buy: Calvert Woodley Wines & Spirits

Langhe DOC Rosso 2013 – Piedmont, Italy

Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Freisa, Pinot Noir, and Albarossa. Violet and mineral notes on the nose with just a hint of autumn mustiness. Fresh cherry, plum, and florals attack the palate on the front end, rounding quickly with brief tannins and a longer greenish mineral finish. This is a bright, acidic red just right for the onset of spring. I would call it light bodied, if not for some stubborn tannins on the backend that provide some depth and backbone. With toast and goat cheese, it’s stellar and I could not imagine a better foil. I picked this one up at Calvert Woodley for $16 on Mark’s recommendation. Verdict: Everyday Red.

  • Rating: Everyday Red
  • Name: Langhe DOC Rosso 2013
  • Winery: G.D. Vajra
  • Region: Piedmont
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, and Barbera blended with small quantities of Albarossa, Freisa and Pinot Noir
  • Price: $16
  • Where to Buy: Calvert Woodley, 4339 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008