As Memorial Day 2020 approaches, although most of us are sheltering in place, we can still enjoy a barbeque and open a nice bottle of red wine, even with friends, if respect social distancing. Whether you barbeque chicken, hamburgers, or a steak, you chose from an excellent selection of wine to brighten the Day as well as for toasting those who served to keep this country safe. In thinking about Memorial Day 2020, we also should pay tribute to those first responders who are on the front lines saving lives and trying to protect us from the pandemic. Here are ten red wine suggestions that I recently tried.
Memorial Day 2020 – A Look to the Past
Two classic wines that surprised me because the wineries have been around forever, and we sometimes tend to forget about the big names from the past.
Louis M Martini 2016 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Having been around for over 85 years, this winery produces the classic styled Cabernet with simplicity. Created from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, I found a balanced, rich, full-bodied wine with green pepper, black currant, and mocha on the nose and mocha and blackberry on the palate.
Charles Krug 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley: Consisting of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon mixed with Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec, this wine goes best with food as opposed to standing alone. I discovered mocha, tobacco, and blackberry on the nose with flavors of blackberry and black currant and hints of pepper on the finish.
Domaine Bousquet Virgen
Beginning with the premise of less is more, the Virgen lineup comes from the Uco Valley of Argentina. Here the land was untouched before planting, and the use of minimal intervention prevails. Minimal intervention includes no oak or sulfites. Think purest when thinking of these wines, whereby enhancing the expression of the grapes. In essence, the wine presents itself as bright and lively. I found great wines for everyday drinking at a reasonable value. Because these wines are young and youthful, I recommend aerating them or decanting before drinking.
Domaine Bousquet Virgen Red Blend 2018: Composed of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc; this red blend delivers blueberry flavors and floral aromas as a well-balanced integrated wine.
Domaine Bousquet Virgen Malbec 2019: This Malbec is all about fruit with its flavors of currant and blueberry.
Domaine Bousquet Virgen Cabernet Sauvignon 2019: Flavors of Berries dominate this bright and lively wine.
Memorial Day 2020 Pinot Noir
Over the last several months, I sampled quite a few Pinot Noirs from Sonoma and one from the Anderson Valley. Each provides very distinctive flavors and reflecting the winemaker’s take on both the terroir and region.
River Road Family Vineyards 2017 Stephanie’s Cuvée Pinot Noir Russian River Valley: The vineyards for this Pinot are located in the Green Valley portion of the Russian River Valley. I found a light, bright, refreshing Pinot with aromas of vanilla and red fruit and flavors of cherry in this easy-drinking wine.
Domaine Anderson Estate Pinot Noir 2015: Some Pinots emanate the distinct aromas of Pinot Noir, and Domaine Anderson clearly does. I found the wine easy to drink with lots of acidity. On the nose, I sensed woody qualities mixed with baking spice, especially cinnamon. On the palate, find cranberry with hints of pepper.
La Crema Sonoma Coast 2017 Pinot Noir: An oldie but goodie, La Crema, a family-owned winery has been around since 1979 and one of the pioneers creating Pinot Noir. Utilizing ten different clones, this wine ages nine months in primarily French oak with what I call a hint of American oak. The small percentage of American oak softens the texture of the wine. The word I use for this Pinot is soft. Initially, I tasted cranberry but soon found fruitier flavors of strawberry come through with hints of pepper on the finish.
Memorial Day 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon
River Road 2018 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley: Looking for a well-priced Cabernet Sauvignon that is very drinkable with bright nuances and reflecting a smooth and balanced medium-bodied wine, River Road fits the bill. On the nose, find mocha and dark fruit and on the palate blackberry and cedar flavors.
What’s In A Name
It is intriguing to discover clever titles for wine. Ace Kicker is a gambling term that is so apropos in today’s climate of handling the pandemic. We need an Ace Kicker that will get us through this crisis. The name may be humorous, and its story the same as the wine was born in Spain in a Casino. They say it is a big bet blend. All bets are on we can beat this pandemic if we stay safe and shelter at home.
Ace Kicker Big Bet Blend 2016: Coming from the Vino de la Tierra de Castilla region, the wine combines Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Graciano, and Garnacha. It aged eight months in French and American oak. The wine is very drinkable but a little short on the finish. That okay when you think all bets are on, and you want to get to the finish line faster. Aromas include violet and cherry. I found the American oak creates a softness for the red fruits and brings out vanilla flavors. Find baking spices and a little pepper on the finish.
Wishing you a Happy Memorial Day 2020 and sending a special toast to our first responders. Enjoy your Memorial Day, and stay safe.
Note: Common to the wine industry, this writer received hosted Memorial Day 2020 wine samples. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.