Hi The holidays may be over, but winter will persist for several more weeks or even months. Good thing we have fabulous winter red wines to keep us warm. 

2016 M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut L’esquerda, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, France ($28)1

2016 M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut L’esquerda

I love all things Chapoutier. His widely regarded status as the King of the Rhône is certainly well deserved. As much as I love his Rhône wines, the more affordable Bila-Haut wines that hail from Roussillon have certainly gotten my attention.2 These wines offer outstanding value at wallet-friendly prices but with the Chapoutier touch. Per Chapoutier, Roussillon has the potential to be as great as Bordeaux, Burgundy, or the Rhône and in recent years winemakers in the region have embraced that potential. The L’Esquerda is comprised mostly of Syrah with small amounts of Grenache and Carignan. Highly sippable and approachable with notes of mocha, licorice, and blackberry, the full-bodied wine pulls you in and beckons you to while away the hours by a warm fire. And as with all of the Chapoutier wines, this one wants to be on your dinner table. A cold day with this winter red wine and a bowl of chili will make all right with the world.

2015 Dracaena Cabernet Franc, Paso Robles, CA ($35)

2015 Dracaena Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is one my absolute favorite varietals. As someone that doesn’t drink a great deal of Cabernet Sauvignon3, I’m all over its paternal parent.4 I find it to be so much more versatile of a food pairing partner, not to mention that it can be much more wallet friendly. And I’ve been drinking the Dracaena Cab Franc for several years now. I mean, if you’re the founder of Cabernet Franc Day, you kinda have to craft a damn good Cab Franc. The deep garnet in the glass gives way to a wine with a lush mouthfeel accompanied by velvety black cherry and plum, bell pepper, and mineral and earth. There is almost a rusticity to this one. THIS is what I want with my ribeye.

2017 Cline Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, CA ($12)5

2017 Cline Old Vine Zinfandel

I still recall my first ever trip to Sonoma many, many years ago and that Cline Cellars was the first winery I ever visited in the area. We were driving into Sonoma to our hotel and it was killing me not to stop somewhere, anywhere. So since it was on the way right off the highway, we pulled in on a whim and I’ve been enjoying their wines ever since over the years. Even better is that they use sustainable farming and continue to be a family owned winery in the midst of significant corporate ownership of many brands. The Cline Old Vine Zin comes from 50-plus year old vines which deliver a wine with flavors of ripe, juicy black cherry, strawberry preserves, along with sweet spice and vanilla. The mid-level acid and easy going tannins make this one go down easy. Cheese, pizza, BBQ, or just hanging out – this wine will play well with lots of things.

2015 Lucia de Mendoza Estate Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina (~$18)

2015 Lucia de Mendoza Estate Malbec

On a trip to Argentina several years ago, I recall swooning over Malbec. Like the first time I ever visited France, everything there tasted amazing. But when I went home, I had a hard time consistently finding Malbecs that I enjoyed. Well, add this one to your list as it is an excellently crafted Malbec. This Malbec is available from Pedro’s Wine Collection, an importer with a focus in South American and Spanish wines. This is seriously one of the most enjoyable Malbecs I’ve enjoyed in a while. The tannins are like buttah. OK, not really. Rich and full-bodied with svelte, velvety integrated tannins, this one is so smooth to drink. Lush blackberry and dark cherry just coat the tongue followed by notes of vanilla and spice. A really fine wine.

2011 Bodegas Patrocinio Zinio Tempranillo, Rioja, Spain (~$11)

2011 Bodegas Patrocinio Zinio Tempranillo

Bodegas Patrocinio is a cooperative in the small town of Uruñuela in the heart of the Rioja Alta. Benefitting from the mostly Mediterranean climate of the region with significant Atlantic influences, the vineyards produce fruit distinguished by their vivacity and elegance. With 2011 being a historic year for Rioja with its lack of rain and heat, the lower yields resulted in intense, concentrated wines with good quality. While the majority of the region’s red wines are blends dominated by Tempranillo, this one is crafted of 100% Tempranillo. Smooth, soft tannins are balanced by very present acidity and rich dark fruit (black plum), toasty notes, and spice. All that great acid is a song with braised meats, stews, and casseroles of the season. A perfect winter red wine.

2012 Pasqua ‘Mai Dire Mai’ Valpolicella Superiore, Veneto, Italy ($35)

2012 Pasqua ‘Mai Dire Mai’ Valpolicella Superiore

I’ve so enjoyed discovering the Pasqua family wines over the past year. My favorite wines to drink are definitely those that are family owned and who put quality above all else. The Pasqua family has been doing this for decades. The Mai Dire Mai line represents an exclusive, top level red in the Pasqua portfolio. Mai Dire Mai translates to “Never Say Never” and yeah, you’ll never say never to this one. (Y’all know I had to do it!) Crafted of the traditional Amarone grapes Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Oseleta, this is all about richness and intensity. A bit dusty with layered dried cherry fruit, cedar, earth, and spice this one provides complexity, bright acid, and grippy tannins. Comfort foods like mushroom risotto, pasta, and braised lamb will pair seamlessly.

Buckling down through the rest of winter just got easier (and tastier)! Cheers to winter red wines!

  1. Received as a sample for review, but all opinions are my own.
  2. Check out my previous coverage of his Rosé, Red, and White Bila-Haut wines.
  3. It gets plenty of love the world over.
  4. Cabernet Sauvignon comes from a crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.
  5. Received as a sample for review, but all opinions are my own.


  1. Lori
    5 years ago

    Thank you so much for including us in our list. We truly do pour our passion into every bottle and we love doing it! We try hard to promote the grape as a single varietal also! We appreciate all of your support and are thrilled that you love our wines!

    1. Kat
      5 years ago

      Lori, I absolutely love your Cab Franc and all you do to promote this wonderful variety.

  2. Misty
    5 years ago

    I’ll take one of each please!

    1. Kat
      5 years ago

      Ha ha! Nothing like tasty red wines to keep you warm.

  3. Lori
    5 years ago

    THANK YOU!!! It warms my heart to know you enjoy our wine!


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Posts You Might Like

Georgian Wine on My Mind

No, not THAT Georgia! I’m talking about the country – the Republic of Georgia! This European (or Asian) – depending on who you ask –

Read More »

Keep in Touch

Previous Next
Test Caption
Test Description goes like this

Keep In Touch

Subscribe for updates from
The Corkscrew Concierge