Winter’s chill means it’s time for reds

When winter’s chill begins to bite, it only seems natural to break out the red wines you’ve had stocked away and pair them with heartier fare consistent with the season.

I’ve tried a few recently that I want to tell you about:

  • 2013 Emblem Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($35)

The Oso Vineyard provides the central character and structure, while the balance of fruit from the valley floor contributes to the roundness and complexity. Produced by the Michael Mondavi Family Estate, there is concentrated blue and black fruit and a hint of torched crème brulee in this cab-dominated blend, which also has petite sirah (8 percent), petit verdot (5 percent), syrah (4.5 percent), zinfandel (2 percent) and merlot (1.5 percent).

  • 2015 St.-Cosme Cotes du Rhone ($13)

My recent trip to New Orleans included a remarkable dinner at uptown hot spot Gautreau’s. This splendid syrah-based wine went beautifully with duck confit, red meat dishes and hearty fish ordered by our party. Blueberry and boysenberry flavors came to the forefront, with anise and floral notes, maybe violets, on the back end. Truly a memorable experience.

  • 2013 Osvaldo Viberti Langhe Nebbiolo ($20)

Nebbiolo is the primary grape variety behind the prized red wines of Piedmont in northwest Italy, most notably Barolo and Barbaresco, wines distinguished by their strong tannins and high acidity. But this Nebbiolo from Langhe exhibited tremendous finesse and softness, with beautiful red cherry flavors and aromas, making it a stunning pairing with pizza, grilled red snapper and pappardelle with spicy lamb ragut.



  • The 2014 Sojourn Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Gap’s Crown Vineyard ($40)

Rated 35th on the Wine Spectator Top 100, Sojourn has been my personal favorite for many years. Owner Craig Haserot and winemaker Erich Bradley have consistently delivered beautiful pinots, sourcing from some of the most celebrated vineyards in Sonoma and Napa counties. About the 2014 Gap’s Crown, the Spectator writes “lightly aromatic, but rich and layered, this offers excellent density and depth, with fine-grained tannic grip and a long, persistent finish that keeps flashing the core flavors. Drink now through 2020.” Information:

Here are a couple important dates to sock away for next year:

  • The annual Lodi Wine and Chocolate Weekend is turning 20 next year and will be on Feb. 11-12 at more than 50 participating wineries. Each will have plenty of offerings to tempt your taste buds with handcrafted Lodi wines and sweet and savory bites. In addition, more than 100 prizes will be hidden within complimentary chocolate treats upon check in, including one special “golden ticket” good for a getaway for two in Lodi wine country.

Always a popular event, tickets are $55 in advance, $65 the day(s) of the event and are available at or at the Lodi Wine and Visitor Center at 2545 W. Turner Road.

  • Another must-do event is ZinFest, which will celebrate its 13th year from Friday, May 19 to Sunday, May 21 at Lodi Lake. Sip, swirl & savor from a selection of 200 handcrafted wines from 40-plus Lodi wineries. Enjoy local food, the ZinFest Wine and Cooking Schools, or relax along the beautiful Mokelumne River to an eclectic mix of live music. There is no better way to celebrate the fantastic wines of Lodi Wine Country. Information:

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      Bob Highfill

      Record Sports Editor Bob Highfill is a wine enthusiast and has earned Level 3 certification with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust of London through the Napa Valley Wine Academy. Bob will share some of his experiences from his travels to Lodi and other prime wine locales in his blog and welcomes your suggestions, reviews and wine speak.
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