We’ve also been focusing on wines that are widely available throughout the area, so you don’t have to go too far out of your way to try our recommendations. But sometimes trying new and different styles means seeking out a change of pace. And there are a pair of red blends on sale – at just a few local wine shops – that may be worth a trip into town for suburbanites.
As the weather has turned wintery overnight, our attention has turned to rich red wines that help take the edge off the chill. And among our favorite types of reds are blends, made from a variety of grapes, so they don’t taste like every other cabernet or merlot on the shelf. One such blend from Italy that typically sells for $12 to $15 locally hasn’t appeared in this column because it’s pretty hard to find. But 2009 Tormaresca Neprica is on sale at Pearson’s in Glover Park for just $10.95 a bottle.
Wine Advocate’s Antonio Galloni called it “is a fresh, floral red made in a juicy style best suited to near-term drinking,” in the June 2011 issue, scoring it 87 points. “Sweet red berries, dried flowers, herbs and tobacco linger on the vinous finish.”
“No wine better illustrates what American wine drinkers want than the Neprica. … Because it's cheap, it's well-made, it's food friendly, and you can drink it without a PhD in winespeak,” writes our favorite wine blogger, Jeff Siegel, aka, The Wine Curmudgeon. “It's a red blend of three grapes grown almost only in Italy, and it produces a cherry-ish, low alcohol [13.5 percent], balanced wine that pairs with red sauce and a surprising number of non-Italian foods.”
Wine Enthusiast magazine named the 2009 Neprica to the No. 8 spot in its recently released Top 100 Best Buys of 2011. WE’s Monica Larner awarded the wine 90 points, noting it “offers an unbeatable price-versus- quality ratio.
“This rising star of Puglia [Italy] would pair with meats, pasta or aged cheese and offers clean aromas of ripe fruit, spice and leather.”
One spot up on the Wine Spectator Best Buy list at No. 7 is a more traditional Bordeaux-style blend from Colchagua in Chile’s Rapel Valley, MontGras Quatro 2009, a $15- to $18-wine that happens to be on sale at Calvert Woodley for $13.29 a bottle.
“Sweet and smoky on the nose, with prune, hickory and spice aromas that come together well,” wrote WE’s Michael Schachner, scoring it 90 points as well. “The palate on this four-grape blend is saturated and meaty, while the flavors of blackberry, coffee and dark plum are lush and finish with toast and spice.”
[FULL DISCLOSURE: We first tasted – and loved – this wine on a tour of the MontGras vineyards in May that was paid for by Wines of Chile, an industry trade group that promotes wine tourism in Chile. We, thus, recuse ourselves from offering our own tasting notes, and offer only those of other wine publications and writers.]
Schachner notes that MontGras, and particularly is Quatro blend is consistently good and a good value. “Always one of Chile’s best values; an overperformer year after year,” he adds.
Other critics agree. The 2008 vintage earned 88 points from both Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator.
You’ll only find these great values at a handful of wine shops in the area. (See the slideshow for a representative sample.) So a trip to Calvert Woodley or Pearson’s might be a nice distraction from the rare October snow storm the National Weather Service is warning of for the northern and western suburbs.
A few bottle of these rich, red blends should be all you need to keep you warm.
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