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Splurge-worthy Reds
For the right occasion, you might want to spend more than a few bucks on a bottle of wine.

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For the right occasion, you might want to spend more than a bucks on a bottle of wine. The problem creeps in when you don’t have enough experience drinking wines in that price range. Without that experience you could be lured in by a beautiful bottle, a wine critic’s high score or something else that has little to do with your personal palate. Here are three red wines I’ve recently uncorked and highly recommend.

The 2010 Wild Horse Winery & Vineyard's Cheval Sauvage Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley, California, $60) is a dry-style Pinot Noir with tart cherry and dark-chocolate notes that sail into a long finish.

The 2009 Ehler’s Estate ‘1886’ Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, California, $95) is a wine I pulled out when hosting a couple for dinner, and we all enjoyed the lush, jammy raspberry notes and how they mingled with cinnamon and cocoa notes, too. Its heat on the finish paired well with a hearty Italian dish.

A 2010 Sea Smoke ‘Ten’ Pinot Noir (Santa Rita Hills, California, $82) is silky smooth on the palate, with bright-red cherries and baking spices, plus lots of depth and complexity that, in the end, is a flawless wine with a velvety finish. Its boutique of fir trees makes it a nice autumn selection. The reason this wine is called ‘Ten’ is because ten clones of Pinot Noir were carefully sourced.


Black Sheep opens today in Walker’s Point and I, for one, can’t wait to check it out. (Stay tuned to Wine Notes for the full scoop.) In the meantime, I encourage you to drop in and take advantage of this anytime deal: that the wines are poured via a tap systems means that means for just a few bucks you can have a sip. Once you hone in on a wine you like, simply select a larger-size pour.


While it may not be until next month, it can’t hurt to block out this night on your calendar. On Sept. 7 is the Lake Geneva Wine Festival at Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan. At 2 p.m. the grand tasting kicks off for VIP ticket-goers ($125) with general-admission tickets ($80) accepted starting at 3 p.m. The tasting lasts until 8 p.m. If you haven’t made your annual trek to Lake Geneva, this is a good excuse to do so. You can secure your tickets at lakegenevawinefestival.com. A list of participating vintners is here.  At press time, the schedule of events was still being added to the web site but there is a promise of chef-driven food.


White-wine blends are a nice departure from your typical summer quencher. The 2012 Franciscan Estate Equilibrium White Wine (Napa Valley, California, $23) is zesty with creamy lemon notes, along with Granny Smith apple notes that emerge near the finish. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Muscat grapes are in this wine.

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