Spice up your palate with non-Bordeaux reds
It’s the time of year when evergreens freshen the air and cold temps move us inside to huddle over rustic one-bowl meals of savory meats in spiced broth and naturally sweet root vegetables. A little heavy for some Pinot Noirs, and a little earthy for the fruitiest wines, these meals beg for complex reds to extend the winter conversations. Instead, try an Oregon Syrah, Tempranillo, Grenache or, dare we say it, Pinotage.
Stoller Family Estate 2014 “Single-Acre” Dundee Hills Syrah
This electric magenta wine looks like you’re getting ready for a rave. And it is a party in your mouth, but much more sophisticated than the color would imply. It actually offers a “delicate dance of wonderful things” like layers of rose petals, perfumed violets, plum, blueberry and a dash of black pepper. On the palate it is full, bright and acidic with notes of blackberry and more black pepper.
$40; 190 cases
Hawkins Cellars 2014 Reserve Columbia Valley Syrah
A shy wine. But wait … is that a bit of black tea? A hint of berry? Just let it pass your lips and you are in for a slow but steady surprise. A savory start with smoke and dusty cocoa gives way to a fruity mid-palate and finish. Wait … was that Marionberry and plum? Mmmm.
$36; 100 cases
Cliff Creek 2011 Sams Valley Vineyard Southern Oregon Syrah
A seriously savory Syrah that reminds you of a winter stew with aromas of bacon, raw beef and even a hint of stewed tomatoes. The palate is toasted offering a prominent cranberry flavor with lots of acid, grippy tannins and clove on the finish. An easy pairing for your one-bowl winter meals.
$25; 500 cases
Abacela 2013 Barrel Select Umpqua Valley Tempranillo
Spicy and enticing with notes of anise, cardamom, white pepper, orange zest and pine; these aromas repeat on the palate and are joined with dried strawberry and an earthy component, all supported with superb structure.
$33; 747 cases
Upper Five 2014 Rogue Valley Tempranillo
Tart red fruit like cranberry, the fresh aroma of lemongrass and a savory brewed strawberry-scented tea on the nose. Then, the whole thing gets a squeeze of lemon that offers a high note, an acidic burst, and bright loveliness to the tasting experience.
$28; 140 cases
Van Duzer 2013 Estate Willamette Valley Syrah
The quintessential cool-climate Syrah. Red fruit — cherry, strawberry, red plums — dipped into coarsely ground black pepper and with a hint of evergreen. The flavors grow across a long finish revealing stewed plum, clove- and nutmeg-spiced black tea, and some savory meatiness in the finish.
$50; 72 cases
Dominio IV 2013 “Sketches of Spain” Three Sleeps Vineyard Columbia Gorge Tempranillo
A savory wine full of concentrated yet dried notes, such as strawberry fruit leather, culinary herbs like thyme, plus orange zest and tea leaf. A strong base of balanced acid and tannin hold it all together and black pepper gives an added kick.
$28; 110 cases
South Stage Cellars 2012 Rogue Valley Grenache
A beautiful and complex Grenache with chocolate-covered dried, tart cherry, mint and sweet spice on the nose. The scent of chocolate transforms to a dusty cocoa texture across the tongue balancing the bright acidity. A spicy kick of cinnamon, clove and orange zest also delights. Why is there so little wine left in this bottle?
$25; 2,454 cases
South Stage Cellars 2011 Pleasant View Vineyard Rogue Valley Pinotage
A wine geek’s wine. The one you take to a tasting with other like-minded people when you want to offer something unique. Pinotage, a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault, is not that widely produced and, frankly, many of them — from my experience — are not good. This one, on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise with notes of cherry, strawberry, minerality, baking spice and a delicate structure. It has some development but will not change much over the next few years if stored properly. Drink now or hold for a short time.
$30; 900 cases