Top Rated Red Wines
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Top Vintages, Rare Riservas and More
Most reds are made to be enjoyed young. But a rare breed exists that, when left alone in a dark cellar, develops deeper, more complex flavors — here’s a collection for your own cellar, featuring:
‘Highly Aromatic’ 91-Point Cab
At 11 years old, this Cabernet from Portugal’s acclaimed Casal Branco is “highly aromatic with appealing green minty, subtly earthy characters.” 91 Points. — Dr. Jamie Goode
500-Year-Old Cellar Gem
Master Pamela Geddes sends her luxuriously barrel-aged Spanish Gran Reserva (aged 10 years deep inside a 16th-century cellar). So mellow, with classic tobacco leaf and smooth vanilla.
Top-Vintage Gran Reserva
From Spain’s excellent 2005 vintage. Winemaker Maria Camara gave this dark berry-imbued Tempranillo an 18-month slumber in American oak, then let it rest six more years in bottle.
Rare Chianti Riserva
Marco Barbanera made the most of Chianti’s 94-point 2007 vintage (Wine Spectator). His ‘royally’ delicious Riserva is already a classic, laden with sour cherry and licorice spice.
Ermita de San Lorenzo Gran Reserva 2002 Spain Grenache
Think about it — when was the last time you had a perfectly mature, 10-year-old Reserva? How about a perfectly mature, 10-year-old Gran Reserva? The latter is the top tier of Spanish reds, made only in exceptional vintages, with a required aging time of (at least) 5 years. It gets even better here with this perfectly mature beauty (that comes with a fantastic pedigree). It’s crafted for you by Susana Ruberte and Pamela Geddes, two of Spain’s leading female winemakers. Their 2001 has a coveted gold medal from a major international show. And you’re in for a real treat with their sumptuously barrel-aged follow-up …
Expect mellow, dark berry flavors layered over silky-smooth vanilla oak and a long, velvety finish. Decant into a glass pitcher or jar to really open up the flavors, then serve with a variety of lamb dishes. Go classic Spain with chuletas de cordero al ajo cabañil (lamb chops with garlic-roasted potatoes) or caldereta de cordero (a traditional stew). Also delicious with grilled lamb skewers or garlicky, roast spring lamb.
Palacio del Conde Gran Reserva 2005 Spain Tempranillo
Where else can you find luxuriously barrel-aged, mature reds of this quality at such an everyday price?
Not only is today’s Spanish wine scene “among the most vibrant, dynamic and creative in the world,” (Tim Atkin, Master of Wine), it offers incredible value. This stunner is from Valencia (where Spain’s famous paella is said to have been invented) and the country’s excellent 2005 vintage. Not to mention, it’s the much-anticipated follow-up to the gold medal-winning 2004.
Winemaker Maria Angeles Camara combines Tempranillo with Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre, the power behind Châteauneuf-du-Pape) for dark, juicy fruit flavor. Extended barrel-aging provides a soft edge of vanilla. This fragrant red is in its element with duck or lamb, strong cheese, or tapas such as jamón Serrano. Decanting one hour before serving will really open up those smooth, spice-kissed flavors.
Duca di Cardino Chianti Riserva 2007 Italy Tuscany Sangiovese
The Barbanera family have been making superlative wines, working in some of Tuscany’s best-regarded sites, since the 1930s. This gorgeous Chianti Riserva draws on some serious pedigree and winemaking experience.
Marco Barbanera’s 2007 is fit for a “duke,” and the powers-that-be in Italy have confirmed it: “Riserva” on the label means top-quality in the glass.
Thirty years ago, Chianti’s wines were synonymous with the wicker jugs of red in every Italian restaurant. Not anymore, and certainly not in 2007 — a vintage Wine Spectator gives an “excellent” 94 points for its “aromatic and fresh” characters “with good fruit and tannin backbone.” Also included here: ripe dark cherry, classic chocolate, hints of licorice and mocha. So delicious, and made for hearty and traditional Italian classics like lasagne or pasta with a spicy arrabbiata sauce.
Capucho Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 Portugal
If you’ve yet to try any of Portugal’s rich, dynamic reds, this Cabernet discovery (sporting a silver from Paris’ top Vinalies Internationalcompetition) is a perfect introduction.
From Quinta do Casal Branco, located on the shores of the Tagus river. Capucho is made by the talented Jose Lobo de Vasconcelos, who comes from a long line of winemakers (his family have owned the estate, or quinta, since 1775). Though Portugal is well-known for making excellent wines with its indigenous grapes, creative winemakers like Jose have begun experimenting with international varieties – and had delicious results.
Here’s what top critic Jamie Goode had to say about Jose’s 2001:
“Highly aromatic with appealing green minty, leafy, subtly earthy characters. The palate is fresh and herby with leafy blackcurrant and cherry fruit as well as notes of earth and spice. This is evolving nicely. 91 Points.”
Definitely worth decanting before serving, to really open up all those beautiful aromas. A must-try for any Cabernet fan. Only While Supplies Last. laithwaiteswine.com