I'm officially declaring December "red wine month."
With winter on the horizon and the prospect of even colder weather ahead, December seems the perfect time to enjoy a glass of red wine. I'm not saying you should abandon all plans to serve a chilled white wine this month. But if you think about yourself with a good book, a warm fire or a bowl of hearty stew, a glass or bottle of robust, flavorful red wine could be just the thing to complete the picture and take the edge off a cold winter's day.
Today I'll start you off with a few recommendations from local wineries, and during the next several weeks offer plenty of other suggestions from Washington, Oregon and California.
San Juan Vineyards has a couple of big, bold reds among its current releases. Try the 2009 Red Wine (about $14), a well-priced blend of merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and sangiovese. It's dark and brooding with compact flavors of espresso, black currant and dark plum, and begs to be paired with pepper-encrusted beef.
Another candidate for a beef entrée is their 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (about $19). Aromas and flavors of black cherry, blackberry and a touch of anise lead off, followed by a nicely structured, slightly woodsy finish.
Bellingham's Dynasty Cellars has a trio of truly remarkable reds that are in short supply but still available and highly recommended. The 2008 DC3 Meritage (about $25) is loaded with intense dark berry flavors and hints of baking spice that melt into a pliable finish with nuances of black olive and toasted oak.
Powerful, yet gorgeous, the 2008 DCC Les Collines Cabernet (about $33) displays dark, inky overtones of black cherry and coffee followed with a lovely bit of milk chocolate on the finish and flawless tannins.
And the 2008 DCQ Red Wine (about $35) is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, cabernet franc and zinfandel. This is another dense wine with chalky tannins that's perfect for the cellar, or enjoyable now with venison or lamb.
Finally, be sure to try the Dakota Creek Winery 2009 Petit Verdot, (about $35) with beautiful flavors of black plum and dark berry that melt into a big, round finish with just enough texture to remind you that you're drinking petit verdot. This limited-supply wine, along with the 2009 Petit Sirah, will be featured at the winery's Christmas open house celebration, Dec. 7-9, in Blaine.
Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at www.danthewineguy.com.
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