Romance Among the Vines


The purported most romantic day of the year is here, but what is a guaranteed way to capture and keep the heart of your desired one? To many, it’s red roses or exquisite chocolate. Perfume does it for some. And there’s always the candlelit dinner at a swanky restaurant.

But I am here to tell you that the surefire way for Cupid to hit the target is a special bottle of wine. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve selected four outstanding wines that are sure to impress your lover. Of course, they are all red.

Mike Grgich has been a California winemaking legend since the early 1970s. He was the winemaker at Chateau Montelena in 1973 and made the chardonnay that shocked the world when it won the famous 1976 Paris blind tasting that was the subject of the movie Bottle Shock. His native Croatia gives him wonderful insights into zinfandel that few have. Using only certified organic and biodynamic grapes, the Grgich Hills 2007 Napa Valley Zinfandel ($32) is a wine that is classically structured with delicious strawberry, plum, and raspberry flavors. It was blended with a touch of petite sirah, which gives it added depth and intensity. This wine is marvelous with thin-crust pizza or grilled meats.

Since 1992, Randy and Debbie Lewis have been producing limited releases of Napa and Sonoma wines that have been met with incredible critical acclaim. The 2008 Lewis Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($90) is the result of one of Napa’s lowest-yielding vintages of the past 20 years, producing intensely concentrated wines. Black currant, cassis, and spice notes encompass a wine that is lush and focused. Ripe, sweet fruit and traces of cocoa provide a long and memorable finish. 

The 2008 Meiomi Pinot Noir ($22) is a crowd pleaser. Owner/winemaker Joe Wagner comes from one of Napa’s most prestigious and storied wine families. The Wagners established Caymus Vineyards in 1972 and have been growing grapes in Napa Valley since 1915, going back four generations. With grapes from the counties of Sonoma (65 percent), Monterey (20 percent), and Santa Barbara (15 percent), this wine is luscious and lip smacking. Ripe strawberry, black cherry, and cranberry flavors are smooth, integrated, and delicious.

Paul Hobbs has been a Napa Valley legend in the making for 30 years, beginning with Mondavi and Opus One to establishing his own Paul Hobbs label in 1991. In his spare time, he traveled to Argentina during California winters and helped spark the South American wine revolution 20 years ago. His Bramare Cobos 2008 Malbec ($44) is a stellar example of the quality of wine that Argentina can produce. Complex and dense, it has scents and flavors of blackberry, roast coffee, vanilla, and mineral. Paul’s California wine instinct guides the juicy fruit flavors so that the earthy mineral flavors, long a trademark of Argentina wines, do not overshadow this delicious final result. 

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