Red Wines You May Not Know, But Should!

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Excitement often comes with wines that over-deliver. Today’s red selection is not run of the mill. It represents great quality at good prices. With an option from Italy, Portugal and two from Chile, all are “sit up and take notice” wines. For your friends, family or yourself this season, they are probably a new experience that will pleasantly surprise everyone. Wines are listed from lightest bodied to fullest.
2016 Lagrein, Alois Lageder, Alto Adige $25 suggested retail price
     Deep garnet in color. Polished but intense red fruits on the nose; a rich sensation that includes tar, spice and mountain herbs. Fresh, juicy and harmonious mouthfeel with creamy raspberry, cherry, red currant and a stony, iron-clad minerality. One really feels the mountain atmosphere with light alcohol (12.5%), long finish and that touch of bitterness that is Lagrein. Drink now-2023. Try with Wienerschnitzel, truffled risotto or a Cobb salad. 91/100 points
2017 Carignan, Odfjell Orzada $23 srp
     This organic winery is owned by an adventurous Norwegian named Dan Odfjell. Purple/violet in color. A vibrant, “meaty” nose of cassis, plum and blackberry with a surprising leathery overtone. (Surprising because it’s fermented in stainless steel.) A deeply lush, well-balanced mouthfeel with elements of black plum, earth and a charcoal twist that caresses the finish. Bright acidity freshens it all. Drink now-2021. Try with poultry, shepherd’s pie or an eggplant Parmigiana. 90/100 points
2017 Grey Single Block GCM, Ventisquero $22
     Dark ruby in color. A fresh, yet robust, slightly leafy bouquet with raspberry, red currant and black pepper elements. The flavors are reminiscent of the southern Rhône with lush, silky blackberry notes, a sweet-textured middle but a dry, soft and spicy finish. European styling and elegance persist throughout. (A blend of 62% grenache, 19% carignan and 19% mataro.) Drink now-2022. Try with ham, venison or a mushroom casserole. 91/100 points
2015 Pombal do Vesúvio Douro, Symington Family Estates $28
     Reddish purple in color. A complex bouquet of blackberry, dried herbs and milk chocolate with elements of tobacco, smoke, cedar and forest floor as it aerates. Makes a statement! Flavors are gloriously ripe with generous black fruits, spicy vanilla, eucalyptus and mouth-watering aftertaste. Almost “crunchy” on the palate and very exciting. (50% touriga nacional, 45% touriga franka, 5% tinta amarela.) Drink now-2026. Great for Chateaubriand, game or an Irish stew. 92/100 points

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Arturo Ciompi

Arturo Ciompi

Trained as a classical clarinetist and conductor, Arturo plied his trade for many years in New York, performing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York City Opera, the American Symphony and countless chamber music groups. While living in Durham, Arturo became the wine manager at two iconic gourmet stores: Fowler’s in Durham and Southern Season in Chapel Hill. He had a wine spot on NPR in the ’90s and has been a continuously published wine journalist since 1997. He has won national awards for his work and is currently writing for Durham Magazine and its weekly blog, “Wine Wednesdays”. In addition, he loves teaching the clarinet. Read more on his website.

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