Moving into spring, let us take one last look at this winter’s best red wine for 2021. These wines can go with a hearty stew, a steak, lamb, or even pork. Many of these wines are suitable for any time of the year as they have the versatility to lend themselves to a lighter fare.
Winter’s Best Red Wine for 2021
Here are five wines to enjoy as we move into daylight savings time.
Au Contraire Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2019
The name Au Contraire takes a somewhat humorous approach to wine and winemaker. Looking at the title seriously, it is very apropos during the pandemic. It tells us to try and make our day extraordinary and learn to celebrate our challenges no matter how hard it gets. As we live in our stay-at-home world, we try to find one thing special about each day.
The winery pays tribute to David S. Taub because he often used the words Au Contraire to motivate the people around him to find a creative solution to a problem and to cherish the unexpected results.
This Pinot Noir celebrates grapes from the Sonoma Coast. The grapes come from vineyards in Sebastopol and Fort Ross Seaview AVA. They are warmer vineyard sites that sit above the fog line. The wine ages 12 months in French oak, 35% new oak, followed by 11 months in bottle before its release this month.
I found a vibrant yet elegant light-bodied wine with aromas of cherry, raspberry, and violet. On the palate, this flavorful wine exhibited red fruit flavors, especially cherry, accented by the forest floor’s earthy freshness.
Casleah Wines Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2019
Like Casleah’s, Rosé her Pinot Noir is vibrant and reflects Casleah’s upbeat personality. The wine’s vibrancy reflects Casleah’s goal, as noted on the back of the bottle, “I created this wine label to spread the message of love, joy, and hope.” This Pinot Noir has a zestiness that is quite inviting. Casleah also says, “This wine pairs perfectly with positivity and random acts of kindness.” In my opinion, the wine signals a bright optimism in its demeanor.
The label is reflective of the wine within as it bursts with the life of Pinot Noir. In its subtle way, it tells one of what lies within the bottle.
This Pinot Noir comes from the Lakeville Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap of Sonoma County. The wine aged in French oak with 30% aging in new oak.
I found a spicy yet lively Pinot Noir that is bright and balanced with aromas of red fruit. Flavors of strawberry and pomegranate dominate and are highlighted by the spicy notes of baking spices.
Dancin Synergy 2020
If you have ever been to Dancin Vineyards in the Rogue Valley, you will know that everything dances at all times of the year, whether it be the love that brought Dan and Cindy Marco, the owners together in marriage to create their outstanding wines or the dance between science and art that produces the wines. For Dan and Cindy, it is the dance of harmony brought together by soil, sun, old-world winemaking, modern technology, and humans.
Dan Marco says. “This wine is sort of an allusion to our marriage. A couple, each born in two very different places, with two very different cultures. New York and California. Dan, the Italian from the east representing the Barbera with high acid (high energy), but yet with low tannins (easily approachable) alongside Cindy from the west, representing Pinot Noir (delightful) with relatively low acid (easy-going) plush, round, fruity, floral with refined tannins (great company) forming a synergy of two very unlikely participants.”
My observation of Dancin Synergy is the cooperation and interaction of two grape varietals Barbera and Pinot Noir. The wine ages 18 months in 33% new oak. I loved the bright structure and depth of the wine. The wine has a powerful side but with the elegance of the ballerina depicted on the bottle. With aromas of violets and dark fruit, the dark fruit flavors are accented with nutmeg.
Domaine Bousquet Gaia Cabernet Franc 2018
Gaia referenced the ancient Greek goddess of the earth and an inspiration for the Bousquet family when they left their native France to cultivate grapes on barren land in the Andes’ foothills in the 1990s. Today this area has become known as the Uco Valley, a prominent wine region of Mendoza.
The high altitude promotes cool nights that preserve fresh fruit flavors and acidity in the wine. In these conditions, the grapes develop thick skins to protect them from the sun. The soils consist of gravel and sand. In this area, the vines do better if they struggle.
The Bousquet’s chose to grow their grapes organically because the dry, low-humidity soil prevents the need for pesticides or chemicals, making organic farming easy. Being sustainable has a different meaning for the Bousquet’s. It is not just about organic farming or reducing their carbon footprint. The economic portion of sustainability placed great importance on building a community in this rural region. Its success was paramount in the establishment of this winery.
The Cabernet Franc is herbaceous. I recommend aerating the wine as it softens and opens up the wine. The Cabernet Franc displays a big, rich, full-bodied wine with dark fruit accented by spice and minerals.
Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas “Terres Brûlées” 2018
Sometimes we find hidden gems, or one should say wine gems, in our search for great wines. The wines of Jean-Luc Colombo’s excel at telling the story Côtes du Rhônes and more specifically the northern Rhône appellation of Cornas, which is known for Syrah. These exceptional wines symbolize the typicity of their terroir with elegance and character.
Jean-Luc Colombo started as a pharmacist, but his love of food and wine prevailed, persuading him to turn his chemistry background in a different direction; that of wine consultant and winemaker. Jean-Luc passed his passion down to the next generation. His daughter Laure is now a significant influence in the wine of Jean-Luc Colombo.
The south-facing vineyards, located on steep terraced slopes, consist of decomposed granite soils with stressed growing conditions, and Mediterranean climatic influences impact the wine’s quality and character. The wine ages for 21 months in oak barrels, 10% new and 90% in one to five-year-old barrels. Discover a balanced and smooth wine exhibiting earthy aromas of blackberry. On the palate, I found dark fruit with hints of spice and minerals.
Each one of the wines represents the best red wine I have sampled thus far in 2021.
Note: Common to the wine industry, this writer received hosted wine samples. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.