We don’t think anyone will dispute the fact that the last several months have been challenging. For many the challenge has been struggling with a virus that maims and kills. For others, the challenge has been coping with financial stress. Perhaps there is little to celebrate, but we like to look on the bright side. Better times are ahead. Let’s celebrate what we have.
Father’s Day is just around the corner and there is probably a man in your life who has braved exposure to the virus in order to keep food on the table. Maybe he is a doctor, a police officer, fireman, teacher, truck driver, grocery worker who has saved lives and risked personal danger to provide for our families. Let’s show the love.
Below we list some expensive wines – and a few not so expensive – that would make great Father’s Day gifts. Add a steak for him to grill and we are confident he will be a happy man.
- Viader Black Label 2016 ($150). Delia and Alan Viader – mother and son – make this luxurious blend of cabernet sauvignon, syrah, malbec and cabernet franc. It sports huge floral and cherry aromas followed by concentrated blackberry, red currant and plum flavors and a hint of pepper and mocha. Soft tannins on the palate and drinking well now.
- Beaulieu Vineyard Tapestry Reserve Red Blend 2016 ($65). Using all five Bordeaux grape varieties, BV has assembled a layered and complex blend that exudes fruit-forward character. Dark fruit notes with a floral nose and hints of sage and cinnamon.
- Gamble Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 ($60). With deep roots in farming, Tom Gamble carries on the family tradition with tis luxurious rendition of a serious yet approachable Napa Valley cabernet.
- Newton Napa Valley “The Puzzle” 2017 ($175). All five Bordeaux grape varieties are used in this colossal blockbuster from the winemaker’s Spring Mountain Vineyard. Layered aromas of black cherry, cedar and anise are chased by concentrated dark fruit flavors with hints of licorice, cocoa and forest floor. Tannins abound in a blend that embodies Newton’s philosophy of bypassing filtering to show the best in wine.
- Lion Tamer Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 ($58). Another winner from the Hess Collection, this blend is 81 percent cabernet sauvignon with the balance made up of petite sirah and malbec. Classic berries and cherries with a hint of mocha.
- Flora Springs Trilogy Red Wine 2017 ($85). Cabernet sauvignon, petite verdot and malbec got into this very smooth, approachable wine from Napa Valley. Cherry and cassis with some cherry and spice.
- Arnoldo-Caprai Montefalco Rosso Reserva 2015 ($55). This is a very well-balanced blend of 70 percent sangiovese, 15 percent sagrantino and 15 percent merlot. Although sagrantino has a reputation for intense tannic wines, here it tames sangiovese’s varietal acidity.
- Sea Smoke “Ten” Pinot Noir 2017 ($82). The top wine in this venerable pinot noir producer’s portfolio, “Ten” uses 10 clones to create a very expressive pinot noir from Sta. Rita Hills. Floral and blackberry aromas lead to layered dark fruit flavors with beautiful umami notes and soft tannins.
- Mi Sueno Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 ($75). An additional year of bottle age warms this concentrated wine from Napa Valley. Plum and boysenberry aromas with additional ripe cherry flavors and a hint of pepper.
- Black Stallion Gaspare Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 ($75). From the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, this wine is named for the family patriarch, Gaspare Indelicato, who planted the estate’s first single vineyard in 1924. Good balance, complex and rich in ripe blackberry and blueberry character. Black Stallion also makes a more affordable 2016 cabernet sauvignon that for $28 delivers a lot of rich, dark fruit flavors.
- Brandlin ThS Proprietary Red Wine 2015 ($135). Named after owner Thomas Schmidheiny, ThS is a complex, rich blend of 66 percent of mountain-grown cabernet sauvignon and 34 percent petit verdot. With grapes from Mt. Veeder, ThS has integrated but plentiful tannins to give body to generous cassis and blueberry flavors. Hints of chocolate and tea. Winemaker Steve Rogstad’s impressive resume in California demonstrates the talent that goes into this impressive wine.
- Bodegas Bianchi Oasis Sur Malbec Mendoza 2019 ($16). This is a great Argentine malbec to serve with your next grilled beef entrée. Some malbecs come off a bit coarse in the mouth, but not this one. Round and fruity with plum and blueberry notes, this is a terrific bargain wine. We also enjoyed the Bodegas Bianchi Oasis Sur Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 ($16) that also is a great value. The cabernet sauvignon presented delicious cherry, spice, and integrated oak notes that made a compelling table wine.
- Steele Centennial Vines Catfish Zinfandel 2016 ($25). Zinfandel is another perfect wine to marry with grilled food, such as ribs, pulled pork and slathered chicken. This one from Lake County is actually a field blend of zinfandel, carignan, alicante boushet, cabernet sauvignon, petite sirah and cinsault. Ripe, juicy and ready to drink.
- Lucas & Lewellen Rose of Pinot Noir 2018 ($20). This Santa Barbara producer has created a rose with complexity. Effusive floral aromas are chased by raspberry and peach flavors.
- Passione Sentimento Veneto Rosso 2017 ($16). This is a tasty and unique blend of merlot, corvina and croatina grapes. The grapes were put in a drying shed for 4-6 weeks until they lost 15 to 30 percent of their water. The result is higher concentratio, and a rich texture. Lots of cherry and plum flavors.
- Anarchrist Wine Co. Conspiracy Theory North Coast 2016 ($38). We thoroughly enjoyed this rich, eclectic blend of petite sirah (40 percent), syrah, malbec, sangiovese and zinfandel. Dark in color, it has a fun and creative label as well as red berry flavors and soft mouthfeel.
- Zenato Ripassa Valpolicella Superiore 2015 ($30). The two dominant grapes in this ripassa are the classic corvina (85 percent) and rondinella. Ripassa is sometimes called “baby amarone” because the spent seeds and skins are used to bolster the denseness and alcoholic content of Valpollicella. This deliciously complex and intense wine features cherry and plum notes in a very long-lasting package. Delicious and perfect for the Italian father who loves to make pasta.
- Panthera Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2017 ($45). Golden in color, this rich and lush chardonnay has peach and apricot flavors with lemon curd and toasted oak.
- Argyle Nuthouse Chardonnay 2017 ($45). Golden in color with ripe apple flavors and a dash of lemon, mineral and toasted oak. Heavily textured with a long finish.
- Qupe “Y Block” Chardonnay Santa Barbara 2018 ($22). We liked the balanced in this cool-climate chardonnay. Citrus and apple aromas with apple and pear flavors, brisk acidity and moderate oak notes.
- MacCrostie Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2017 ($46). In a flight of chardonnays, this one stood out for its austerity. Aged in oak in just 17 percent new barrels, there is just a kiss of oak flavors. That plus only some malolatic fermentation and you have a clean, unadorned chardonnay that goes well with food. Tropical fruit flavors.
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Tom Marquardt (email for questions) and Patrick Darr have been writing a wine column since 1985. They’ve traveled extensively to vineyards in France, Spain, Italy, Greece and the U.S.
Tom lives in Florida with his wife, Sue, where he conducts wine tastings. Patrick is in the wine retail business in Annapolis, Md.