Scene Stealing Red Wines

We are almost to the best time of the year, and no, I don’t mean the holidays (though we love the holiday season as much as the next guy.) But, in the Cogill household, we are almost to Oscar season, when the films you want to see arrive in theaters. And, with this, the wine pairings we have been most excited to try. The movies are often thought-provoking, impactful, and powerful, much like the wines we are raising a glass with.

With 300 acres of vineyards within the rolling hills of Paso Robles, Opolo Winery crafts a wide selection of wines from Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon to Petit Sirah, Viognier, and Albarino, but it is their ZInfandel that shines exceptionally bright. Paso Robles benefits from a mix of microclimates that produce a bold blend of red wine grapes, including everything from Rhone and Bordeaux varieties, to Spanish and Italian favorites, and the very American red wine, Zinfandel. Opolo Mountain Zinfandel ($32) is juicy and rich, with mouth-watering layers of ripe cherry, blackberry, and blueberry pie. Slightly spicy, with a lush balance of fruit-forward richness melding with a bright freshness, creating a complete and food-friendly wine. An easy wine to enjoy with barbecue, brisket, or grilled ribeye steaks.

From the Westside of Paso Robles, Booker Vineyard showcases Rhone varietal wines with a Chateauneuf-du-Pape style with incredible character. The wines are elegant, balanced, bold, and incredibly delicious. Booker Oublié ($75) is a full-bodied blend of 56% Grenache, 22% Mourvèdre, and 22% Syrah aged in partially new French oak that integrates the tannins of this powerful wine, allowing the nuances and robust character to shine. Meaning “forgotten” in French, as Rhone varieties were not a focus in California for many years, Oublié showcases how ideal the terroir of Paso Robles is for growing the expressive fruit. The bold wine opens with layers of red cherry, black plum, and black tea, with subtle floral and spice. This is a delicious wine to warm you on cool autumn and winter evenings, relaxing in front of the fire.

On the Adriatic coast in the Abruzzo region of Italy, Caldora crafts modern wines from indigenous grapes tended by families who have been wine growers for generations. Caldora Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo ($15) is sourced from hand-selected fruit gown in the Chieti region of Abruzzo. A bold, brawny wine with a full-body and mouth-watering tannic astringency layering black plum, red berry, toasted vanilla, and woody herb. A definitive food wine, best enjoyed with grilled beef or lamb, hard salami or Italian sausages, or a big bowl of beef bolognese or Ragu di Cinghiale.

The train system in Europe has had a bit to deal with lately, but the issues have not affected wine deliveries. Prestigious Port wine producers, the Symington family, honor the ingenuity that the train system brought to transporting wine throughout Europe and the world with their Comboio do Vesuvio ($22). The Linha do Douro (Douro Line) in northern Portugal is one of the most world’s most beautiful train rides, and since its opening in the late 1880s has brought visitors to the vineyards of the Douro Valley, including Symington’s Quinta de Vesuvio. The establishment of the train line immediately increased the Port trade with visitors from afar. As much as I love to sip a glass of Port at the end of the evening, the non-fortified, dry red wines from the country coming from producers like the Symington family continue to excite me about the future of wines from the country. The new red blend of native Portuguese grapes celebrates this history, creating an inky, dense wine with layers of black fruit, including black plum, ripe black cherry, and huckleberry, with woody, herbal notes and a slight savory balsamic and olive note. It is delicious.