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Top Ten Red Wines from the 2016 Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival

img_2341Late September always means the Newport Mansions Wine &  Food Festival takes center stage, and we indulge in several days of great wine and food in fantastic settings.  Every year we put out our top wine lists, and every year it is difficult to decide between the great variety of wines from around the world.  Here we will list our favorites in the red category.  The whites will follow soon.  If you’d like to read a bit about the festival in general you can click here.

As always this list represents our opinion, and the wines may be here due to quality, price, something unique or any img_2270combination of these.  They are all, in our opinion, outstanding.  We’ll also give out some honorable mentions, as well as list some truly spectacular wines which we don’t consider for the Top Ten, as we limit that list to wines which retail under $100.  Clearly some of the more expensive wines would easily make the list based on sheer quality otherwise. 

You could toss these in a hat and randomly pull out an equally valid list, as for the most part we are splitting hairs when we rank them.  This is the tough work we relish, so on to the list!

1. 2013 Morgan Syrah – wow, was this wine good, and considering it is only $20 it vaults into the stratosphere from a value perspective.  It has aimg_2334 dark, rich color, pure fruit including some black plum.  The fruit is forward but the wine has depth and concentration, finishing very long.  This is an incredibly great value wine, which puts it at the top of this list.  I actually went back to the Morgan table to taste this again and convince myself it was this good.  I am convinced.

2. 2013 Hall Cabernet Sauvignon – Hall can do nothing wrong it seems.  All of their wines were great, and the Kathryn Hall img_2239Cab from 2013 is staggering, will probably get 100 points  eventually and, alas, is well above our $100 cutoff.  The wine listed here is their regular cab, and it too brings berry fruit, some perfume notes, leather and other complexities.  Long and rich, this is killer cab, blended with a bit of Petite Verdot, Merlot and Syrah.  About $45.  I had this at the California Cabs seminar and it was, to me, easily the best of the bunch.

3. 2013 Domaine du Castel Gran Vin – an amazingly good wine from an unexpected place.  This Israeli producer is really doing great things.  Theirimg_2339 top wine boasts structure, is full bodied and has prodigious depth and length.  Rich dark fruits are framed with complex notes.  This could be a great bottle of Bordeaux, but it’s not.  Fairly spectacular at $80.

img_22864. 2013 Raats Cabernet Franc – always a favorite of ours, this vintage does not disappoint.  Dark red and chock full of fruit, this wine is complex, long and rich, with raspberry and violets.  The tannins are brisk but approachable and promise long life.  Very well done at $40.

5 2011 Kanankop Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – this is rich, with lush berry flavors. It stays fresh though, and is beautifully balanced at an alcohol level of $14.5%.  This continues a great showing by South Africa at this event.  $40.img_2283

6. 2014 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – we had so many great Mondavi wines over the course of the weekend, img_2308including five different Reserve Cabs going back to 1976.  We also had a string of great Napa Cabernet from 2013 from other vintners.  This is an early 2014, and it is also great.  Classic Napa profile, body, and length.  About $30, and a great value there.

7. 2011 Marchesi di Barolo Barolo Cannubi – classic Barolo here, with some brawn as well behind the elegant fruit.  There is some tar, and leathery notes too.  Very long.  If you love higher end Barolo then this wine is for img_2248you.  $90

8. 2010 Marchesi Gondi Mazzaferrata – this is a small production Super Tuscan, made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The vineyards are in the mazzaferrataChianti Ruffina district northeast of Florence.  This is rich yet still elegantly lean at the same time.  Tannins are integrated, yet still firm.  This will age gracefully, but is so delicious right now.  This was offered by Quigley Fine Wines, a wine consulting and buying service that offers direct to consumer wines from small production, sustainable producers.  We were impressed with all four they were pouring, and you’ll see one of their whites on that list when it comes out.  We did, by the way, buy both this and the aforementioned white.  You can check them out at http://www.quigleyfinewines.com/$40.

img_22949. 2010 Ken Forrester “The Gypsy” – this traditional GSM blend (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre – think Chateauneuf du Pape) is a fruit driven wine with intensity and balance.  Some of the fruit here comes from a mountain vineyard where everything just grows naturally.  All they essentially do is come and pick the grapes.  There are no fences to even mark the property boundaries.   Unusual, but it works splendidly.  $65

10. 2013 Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyard Pinot Noir – always good, and very much so in 2013, this is a fleshy, fruity style with dark color, cherryimg_2297 and berry fruit and  wonderful freshness.  Delicious is simply the correct word here, and sums it up nicely.  From Somoma Coast vineyards.  We love this wine.  $39.99. (Chris from Phelps was very exact with his pricing)

So right there are ten wines you should buy and drink, or better yet find a friend who has some and drink theirs!  Either way they are all outstanding, and should be tried and enjoyed.  We loved the surprises, including the Israeli wine and the small lot Super Tuscan from Quigley Fine Wines.  The Morgan Syrah was totally unexpected, especially at its price point. 

Yet there are many more worth considering, so let’s list the ones that came close, as well as highlighting some of the more expensive wines left off solely due to price.

Honorable Mentions

2013 Chateau Magnol Cru Bourgeois – a lovely left bank Bordeaux, with rich fruit and some complexity.  Overall a quality bottle of wine.  $25 and well worth it.

2013 Hall Merlot – yet another excellent wine from Hall $32

2014 Round Pond “Kith & Kin” Cabernet Sauvignon – a very pleasing Cabernet all around. Perfect for a party or a gift as everyone will like it. $30

2012 Herdade das Servas Reserva Vintas Velhas – this could have been in the Top ten easily, and is just beautiful.  Complex, rich and long.  Vanilla and chocolate. $45

2013 Morgan Santa Lucia Pinot Noir – beautifully balanced, with bright cherry.  $30

2014 Domaine du Castel Petit Castel – the baby brother of #3 above, this wine was also impressive with its rich fruit and long finish.  Merlot, Cab img_2259Sauvignon and Petite Verdot.  $40

2009 Verum Merlot Vendimia Seleccionada– unexpectedly excellent wine from La Mancha in Spain.  This is rich and luscious, long too.  $35

 

And now the big guns:

2013 Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon – this wine received 98-100 points from Robert Parker.  We think it eventually gets that 100, as it is pretty muchimg_2243 perfect.  Rich berry fruits, complex notes and perfect balance deliver a wine with power and finesse, the iron fist in the velvet glove.  This is stunning.  It was our favorite wine of the night at Rosecliff and of the whole weekend.  $165 from the winery.  Surprisingly worth it.

2013 Phelps Insignia – another killer red here, with rich berry fruit and a touch of cherry as well.  It is really just a baby.  Better than the 2012.  $230

img_22642013 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet – quintessential Napa Cab.  $140

And then we should mention Trifecta, whose production of Napa Cabernet and Sonoma Pinot Noir is always impeccable, the proceeds from which all go to charity.  These are small production and you can only get them direct shipped.  They areimg_2319 worth it.

That’s quite a list, and one which should keep any red wine lover neck deep in quality wine for a while.  All in all we think it was another excellent year for red wine in Newport.

The Top Ten White list will be out soon.

A votre santé!

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