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
Continuum 2015 Sage Mountain Vineyard Proprietary Red (Napa Valley); $225, 96 points. This deeply flavored and silky-textured wine is surprising in the way that rather mild aromas of cigar box and pencil shavings lead to very rich and concentrated fruit flavors and a mouthfilling firmly tannic but certainly not heavy texture. It layers blueberry, black cherry, mocha and mint notes that seem to build and expand with each sip and linger on the finish. Best after 2024. Cellar Selection. –Jim Gordon
Domaine du Pegau 2015 Cuvée Réservée (Châteauneuf-du-Pape); $110, 96 points. Savory notes of bramble, smoke and leather juxtapose forward plum, cherry and strawberry in this full-bodied wine. It’s a penetrating, mouthfilling sip that lingers on the palate, finishing on soft, furry tannins. Approachable already, this concentrated wine should improve through 2025 and hold further. Editors’ Choice. –Anna Lee C. Iijima
Passing Time 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Horse Heaven Hills); $80, 94 points. This wine contains mostly Cabernet Sauvignon from Discovery and Champoux vineyards, with pinches of Klipsun Merlot (8%) and Champoux Cabernet Franc (4%). Its black currant, cassis, blackberry, graphite, scorched earth and herb notes intoxicate. The palate is ripe, textured, layered and generous but still tightly wound, with polished tannins and an extremely long finish. It is a Cabernet Sauvignon prototype—a complete standout that is delicious now but will have a long life in the cellar. Best from 2023–2035. Cellar Selection. –Sean P. Sullivan
Tenuta San Guido 2016 Guidalberto (Toscana); $60, 93 points. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot opens with aromas of black currant, star anise and a whiff of incense. It’s savory and elegant, doling out flavors of dried black cherry, raspberry jam, white pepper and licorice. Fine-grained tannins and fresh acidity provide balanced support. Enjoy through 2027. –Kerin O’Keefe
Montes 2015 Purple Angel Carmenère (Colchagua Valley); $90, 92 points. Sappy, rooty aromas of baked black fruit, spice cake and chocolate announce a supremely ripe Carmenère (with 8% Petit Verdot) that’s as lush, chewy and dense on the palate as possible without being overdone. Massive blackberry, cassis, chocolate and baking spice flavors finish toasty and rich. While this turns over no new stones, it’s decidedly appealing. Drink through 2021. –Michael Schachner
Nieto Senetiner 2013 Don Nicanor Single Vineyard Villa Blanca Malbec (Luján de Cuyo); $45, 92 points. A smooth aroma of fully ripe blackberry comes with notes of cola and smoke. This is giant, but mostly in balance. Baked, spicy flavors of blackberry come with a lot of oak, while coffee and lightly herbal berry tones carry the finish. Drink through 2020. –M.S.
Quinta das Carvalhas 2015 Douro; $12, 92 points. This wine comes from the magnificent vineyard opposite the town of Pinhão at the heart of the Douro. With its big, bold fruits, ripe tannins and wood-aging flavors, it provides a rich evocation of the minerality and structured texture from the region. Drink from 2019. Best Buy. –Roger Voss
Chronic Cellars 2016 Sofa King Bueno (Paso Robles); $20, 90 points. This widely available, cleverly named blend of 44% Syrah, 31% Grenache, 13% Petite Sirah, 10% Mourvèdre and 2% Tannat packs in a ton of flavor for the price, offering fresh, inviting aromas of baked black cherry, boysenberry pie and vanilla. The palate is clean and juicy, with berry, thyme, cracked pepper and lavender flavors. Editors’ Choice. –Matt Kettmann
Felline 2016 Primitivo di Manduria; $35, 90 points. A wealth of aromas start this off: black cherry, violets, blood-orange peel and resinous herbs. Ample in weight yet expertly balanced by a core of juicy acidity and grippy medium-grained tannins, the palate is carried by a fleshy mix of dark berries, red plums and earth. A tart cherry-skin flavor offers grip and intensity on the lingering finish. –Alexander Peartree
Innocent Bystander 2016 Syrah (Yarra Valley); $20, 90 points. A more savory, earthy and full-bodied style than the 2015, this cool climate Syrah offers ripe, brambly berries alongside bay leaf, black-pepper, damp earth and raw meat components. Those juicy berry and earthy characteristics show on the palate as well, but they’re wrapped in savory, dusty tannins. Slightly bitter oak peeks through on the finish. –Christina Pickard
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.