Food & Drink

Splurge for these fine red wines during the holidays

For many of us, the holiday season means it’s time to splurge. From food to gifts to good wine, this is the time when spending a few extra dollars becomes a guilt-free, cut-loose practice we might otherwise shelve for the other 11 months of the year.

Although splurge levels are relative to the individual consumer, they can generally be defined as anything over-and-above your customary price range. So, for example, if you normally spend no more than $10 to $15 on a bottle of wine, then paying even $20 to $25 could be classified as a “splurge.”

Today I’ll offer a few red wine suggestions for those who might consider breaking into the $20- to $30-a-bottle category a splurge, and then a couple more in the $50-and-up range.

Milbrandt Vineyards has a number of excellent reds that I sampled during a visit to their tasting room in Prosser last month:

The Estates 2012 Malbec (about $26) – Explosive, wild berries on the nose and complementary flavors of plump blackberry and blueberry highlight this full-bodied red. A soft, lingering finish belies the wine’s 15.5 percent alcohol content.

Vineyard Series 2011 Primitivo (about $28) – This relative of the zinfandel grape carries all of its classic characteristics: jammy/brambly berry flavors, spicy accents, and a spritz of white pepper on the finish. Outstanding!

Vineyard Series 2011 Mosaic (about $28) – This brilliant grenache, syrah and mourvèdre blend displays blackberry fruit, hints of smoky spice, and a touch of licorice root. Best of Class and double gold medalist at this year’s Tri-Cities Wine Festival.

Parducci Wine Cellars in California’s Mendocino County has a couple of nice current releases from their “True Grit” line that are worth a try:

2012 Reserve Petit Sirah (about $29) – Reserved flavors of berries and red plum are capped with a flourish of toasted vanilla. The lighter-than-expected body style was a pleasant surprise.

2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (about $30) – Chocolate cherry, black plum and a splash of espresso are backed by supple tannins on the slightly chewy finish.

Finally, be sure to spend the extra dollars for two pinot noirs from Durant Vineyards in Dayton, Ore. Their 2012 Olivia Grace Pinot Noir (about $60) and the 20 12 Bishop Pinot Noir (about $65) are completely over-the-top in terms of quality and elegance.

The Olivia Grace shows expressive flavors of strawberry, raspberry, rhubarb and cranberry without any trace of harsh acidity. While the Bishop displays essentially the same flavor profile, I’d give it a preferential nod only because it’s slightly headier and perhaps a touch jammier. Both wines carry a seemingly endless finishing note with a dreamy, velvety texture and each represent a superb winemaking effort. Buy them now you will not be disappointed.