This isn’t the piece we were supposed to be running on Wine Enthusiast today, but we also weren’t prepared for warmer-than-usual autumn temperatures in our little corner of New York to suddenly plummet to below freezing overnight.
So on this Friday afternoon at #WEHQ, we find ourselves running around foraging like squirrels stockpiling nuts before a storm, hunting for extra bottles to bring home for the weekend. Editors’ and tasters’ chairs are left vacant due to the unexpected commotion, as wine racks, shelves, cardboard boxes and dark corners of our office are scoured for the biggest, heaviest reds to curl up with for the next 72 hours.
Here are 10 of our recommended finds when it comes to big, bold reds across all price points. After all, if you’re going to be stuck indoors hiding from the cold all weekend, it’s best to have a friend to keep you warm.
Recommended Reds to Stay Warm
El Enemigo 2014 Gran Enemigo Chacayes Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc (Mendoza); $120, 94 points. El Enemigo winemaker/owner Ale Vigil is the master of Cab Franc in Mendoza, and this wine tops the charts. After some heat on the nose blows off, chili powder, leather, black-olive and black-fruit aromas settle in. This feels grabby and intense, while roasted, spicy black-plum and blackberry flavors are initially aggressive on the finish before turning more exotic and complex. Drink through 2026; contains 15% Malbec. Editors’ Choice. —Michael Schachner
Far Niente 2014 Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon (Oakville); $160, 94 points. Sourced largely from the Martin Stelling Vineyard, this is a supple, soft wine, with refined tannins. A zippy nose of rose and spice scents paves the way for more powerful leather saddle, cedar and black tea elements. Its fruit is wild and brambly, recalling blackberry and dark cherry with enviable succulence. Editors’ Choice. —Virginie Boone
Sottimano 2014 Cottà (Barbaresco); $55, 93 points. This wine’s iris, perfumed berry, truffle and baking spice aromas emerge in the glass as it opens, along with a whiff of crushed herb. The structured, elegant palate shows ripe Marasca cherry, vanilla and mocha flavors alongside fine-grained tannins and bright acidity. Drink 2019–2029. —Kerin O’Keefe
Cowhorn 2013 Reserve Syrah (Applegate Valley); $75, 92 points. Black as coal, with a heavy, smoky, meaty nose, this is one of a growing number of excellent biodynamic Syrahs from Oregon. It marries tangy acids to chewy red and blue fruits, with streaks of coffee liqueur and caramel latté. Half was whole-cluster fermented, and it all spent time in 50% new French oak. —Paul Gregutt
Columbia Crest 2015 Grand Estates Syrah (Columbia Valley (WA)); $12, 91 points. The aromas in this wine pop, with notes of dried herb, plum, vanilla and smoked meat. It brings a compelling sense of texture, coating the palate from end to end with exquisitely balanced fruit and savory flavors. It’s a knockout at this price. Best Buy. —Sean Sullivan
Four Vines 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel (Lodi); $13, 91 points. This beautiful wine has aromas as ripe as dried figs, flavors as deep as blackberries falling off the vine, and a welcoming, broad texture that begs for another sip. While full bodied, it’s easy to relax into. Best Buy. —Jim Gordon
Garage Wine Co. 2014 Lot #61 San Juan de Pirque Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley); $39, 91 points. Blackberry and raspberry aromas are spicy but mostly focus on good fruit character. This wine is evenly balanced, with firm tannins and bright acidity. Spicy, chocolaty flavors of black fruits finish with a not-too-forceful dash of brown sugar. Drink through 2024. —M.S.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2015 Indian Wells Merlot (Columbia Valley); $18, 90 points. Barrel aromas are at the fore, with notes of vanilla, cocoa and milk chocolate out in front of blackberry and black cherry. The palate also mixes fruit and barrel, showing pleasing depth of flavors and intensity along with a silky texture. —S.S.
Mendel 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendoza); $25, 90 points. Ripe aromas of cassis, prune and brandied black cherry indicate the concentration on this Cabernet. A palate that doesn’t hold back is jammy but a bit heavy. Ripe berry, toast and charred flavors take on a chocolaty note on the finish. This wine is all about full extraction and big fruit. Drink through 2022. —M.S.
And finally, if you really don’t want to have to brave the outside weather all the weekend, it’s never a bad idea to opt for the box.
Vin Vault NV Cabernet Sauvignon (California); $20/3 L, 88 points. This may be the most serious California boxed wine on the market, showing great flavor concentration and an appetizing texture that’s laced with fine-grained tannins. It has a deep red-black color, blackberry and dark chocolate aromas and a lip-smacking finish. Best Buy. —J.G.