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Top Ten Red Wines from the 2016 Savor CT Event: a Celebration of Wine, Food and Spirits

savor logo hexThe second annual Savor CT event, a celebration of wine, food and spirits, unfolded in early April in Hartford, CT.  It was an all around spectacular weekend, and you can read more about it by clicking here.  The two+ day event features wines from around the world, great (and we mean great) food, lots of craft beer and spirits and supports the Robert Irvine Foundation.  There’s not a lot about it we would change.

Here we’ll take a look at the red wines we felt were the best overall during the event.  In all cases this is only IMG_2114 - Copyour opinion.  Some wines make the list because they are just too good not to put them on.  Others are very good at extremely low prices, and value gets them here.  Everything on the list is delicious, and the price points are all over the map.  As always we exclude wines above $100, but we’ll mention one later in this article to make note of.  We’ll also do a Top Ten Whites list soon, so look for that.  The whites showed very well at Savor.  Do keep in mind that try as we might we just never get to every wine, so there are bound to be a few we missed that might have ended up here.

To the wines!

1. 2014 Etude Pinot Noir (Grace Benoist Ranch) – medium red color, lots of cherry and hints of IMG_2097earthiness.  Medium bodied, giving you a light feeling and richness all at the same time.  Nice acid, perfectly balanced and clearly a favorite of many people based on reactions we witnessed.  $35

krug generations2. 2012 Charles Krug Generations – this wine is 83% Cabernet Sauvignon with small amounts of Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot.  Alcohol is 15.1% so it is pretty hefty.  It’s also great, with deep berry fruit, nice oak, a rich mouthfeel and a luxurious, long finish.  Very complex as well.  We loved this, and it easily could have been #1.  $55 and Value List.  This would make a great special occasion wine.

3. 2014 Prelius Cabernet Sauvignon – from Castello di Volpaia in the Maremma, this Italian Cabernet IMG_2147Sauvignon hits you with some pretty stiff tannins.  If you are going to drink it now, decant for a couple of hours.  Or let it sit in the bottle for another 2-3 years.  It will be worth it either way, as behind those tannins great fruit is lurking, and the wine has structure, body, complexity and length.  It is one quality bottle, reminding me a bit of a young Left Bank Bordeaux built to last.  Usually I guess retail prices pretty closely, but my guess on this was way off.  I guessed $50-$60.  It retails around $17.  Crazy good wine at that price, and on the Value List it goes.

4. 2013 Can Blau – to Spain we go, and Montsant to be specific.  This is a blend of 40% Carignan, 40% Garnacha and 20% Syrah.  Full bodied with dark fruits, the wine is long and rich.  This is a surprisingly good wine for a retail price around $10 – $12.  We think it’s significantly better than the scores we’ve seen awarded to it.  Easily a Value List choice.  On sale you might even find it under $10.

5. 2012 Herdade das Servas Vinhas Velhos – a blend of Alicante, Aragonez (Tempranillo), Petit VerdotIMG_2122 - Copy and Alfrocheiro, this Portuguese wine shows great fruit.  It is full bodied with complex notes of oak and spice.  Dark red, it finishes very long.  You are left with an overall impression of quality.  It’s young, and will age for a decade or two effortlessly.  This is excellent juice.  About $40 and worth it.

IMG_2103 - Copy6. 2010 Merriam ‘Jones Vineyard’ Cabernet Franc – Peter Merriam’s wines showed great across the board, but this was probably our favorite.  Here the fruit is sourced from the Jones Vineyard in Dry Creek.  The wine is 100% Cabernet Franc, and sees aging time in both French and American oak (50/50).  You get the traditional rasberry, but also some darker fruits as well.  There’s a little minty/menthol note that is really nice.  It’s almost jammy, but not quite.  Long, full bodied and rich it’s a little different and totally delicious.  About $45.

7. 2005 Fernandez de Pierola Rioja Reserva – one of the first wines we tried and one of our favorites.  IMG_2079 - CopyRioja represents some of the greatest value in the wine marketplace in my opinion, and is frequently overlooked.  You can get great wines with 5-10 years of bottle age on them for under $30.  This is one, and really is a pretty classic Rioja Reserva.  It spent 24 months in oak, is 100% Tempranillo, rich and elegant.  A great value at $22.

8. 2013 Beringer Knight’s Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – generally a dependable, go to bottle for a quality Cab, this wine doesn’t disappoint.  It’s rich, with stiff but approachable tannins, currant and other berry flavors.  The finish is long and satisfying.  $35

9. 2013 Juan Gil 12 Meses Silver Label – this Spanish wine is made from 100% Monastrell from IMG_2152Jumilla, and sees one year in American oak barrels.  The result is a rich wine with more red fruits, full body and a long finish.  An excellent wine at an excellent price point.  About $15.

IMG_2143 - Copy10a. 2014 Run Riot Pinot Noir – here we have a Central Coast, California Pinot Noir with a bit of everything at an unbeatable price.  There is nice fruit, complexity and a long finish.  It stays very clean throughout.  A very nice bottle of Pinot at about $15.

10b. 2013 Frog’s Leap Zinfandel – an unusual appearance of a Zinfandel on our Top Ten lists, but this one deserved it.  Rich and long, the wine is quality through and through.  There is beautiful spice on the finish.  Excellent Zinfandel here.  $30

Honorable Mentions:

2012 Charles Krug Merlot – a perennial favorite.  Big at 15% alcohol.  Structure and depth abound.  $20

2014 Alamos Seleccion Malbec – from Mendoza, with dark fruits and a long, clean finish. $15

2009  Monte de Ravesquiera Vinha das Romas – a mix of five different varietals, this is really complex and pretty excellent juice.  $27

And lastly, there was one wine well over $100 that really shined, and we thought was clearly the wine of the IMG_2098event.  That was the 2008 Penfolds Bin 169 Cabernet Sauvignon, an incredibly complex, rich, smooth and elegant bottle of Cab.  It retails for around $200, but is a good choice if you have the budget and inclination.  It would also make a great gift!

What we really like about this list is that there are many reasonably priced wines.  You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good glass of red wine.  Sometimes you can spend far less.

Whites up next.

A votre santé!

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