Take a Walk on the Light Side

Red wines rule in winter, but sometimes they can be a little tiring. Here’s a lineup of reds that are fruit forward and easy on the palate. Think Beaujolais, Pinot Noir or maybe a fruity red fermented in stainless steel.

2012 Marcel Lapierre Raisins Gaulois Rouge, $13.99
The methods at Lapierre are just as revolutionary as they are traditional; the detail and precision with which they work is striking and entirely different from the mass-produced majority of Beaujolais on the market today.

Decomposed granite [Lapierre] comprises most of their eleven hectares, and the vines are an average of 45 years of age. Grapes are picked at the last possible moment to obtain the ripest fruit, which is a trademark of the estate style. The Lapierres age their wines on fine lees for at least nine months in oak foudres and fûts ranging from 3 to 13 years old. These wines are the essence of Morgon, with this entry level bottling being made from “younger” vines (less than 20 years old). It offers juicy notes of cherry, raspberry and red plum with just a touch of minerality on the bright finish. This is a wine that can go with a multitude of different foods, or as the late Marcel Lapierre said, “a wine to drink in the shower when you wake up in the morning.” The grapes for this wine come predominately from the cru of Morgon.

2011 Evesham Wood Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir, $24.00
Evesham Wood was founded by Russ and Mary Raney in 1986. After a comprehensive search throughout the Willamette Valley, they chose a site for the estate vineyard, “Le Puits Sec” (French for “the dry well” which they have in the vineyard). There they planted eight acres of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. They have since added another4 1/2 acres of vineyard.

The gently sloping, east-facing vineyard is tightly spaced and nestled on a low terrace (300 to 420 feet elevation) on the eastern side of the Eola-Amity Hills ridge. This area, known locally as “Spring Valley," has already proven to have one of Oregon’s best micro-climates for the production of fine wines from Burgundian and Alsatian varieties. This Eola-Amity cuvée is essentially the reserve bottling to the winery’s Willamette Valley Pinot. Tehir favorite barrels are selected (from within the Eola-Amity AVA) and aged for an additional six months in the caves. For this vintage, an equal number of barrels were selected from Eola Springs Vineyard and Hidden Rocks Vineyard.

The long, cool growing season of 2011 is well demonstrated here, with elegant depth and focus. Dark cherry, forest floor and pronounced structure. The wine was aged for 15 months in French oak barrels (20 percent new), and bottled without fining or filtering. Only 500 cases were produced.

2011 Eric Chevallier Cabernet Franc, $15.99
Éric Chevalier is a rising star in the Nantais of the Loire Valley. For 10 years, he sourced fruit for a large négociant in the Touraine. In 2005 he decided to return to his hometown of Saint-Philbert de Grandlieu, just southwest of Nantes, and ended up taking over the family domaine, Domaine de l’Aujardière, the next year. His father, a talented vigneron who did not bottle much of his wines and was well-known as a high-quality source of bulk wine, had stopped working the vineyards and the vines were either going to have to be pulled up and replanted, or sold.

Today Eric is proud to be the fourth generation to farm the space. He is also proud to be bottling more and more of the family’s production himself. This Cab Franc offers delicious aromas and flavors of raspberry, black cherry and baking spices with just a touch of black pepper on the finish. Extremely versatile at the dinner table; a wine that would compliment everything from grilled salmon to prime rib roast.

2011 Syncline Cellars Subduction Red, $21.00
James and Poppie Mantone craft highly sought after Rhône varietal wines. Syncline wines have great depth of character and show a sense of singular identity and [syncline] connection to the land. Inspired by the wines of the Southern Rhone Valley, this is Syncline’s Washington version of a Côtes-du-Rhône Villages wine. A blend of classic southern French varieties (Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Counoise and Cinsault), they are unique and expressive on their own, yet each contributes to create a harmonious whole. Ripe and hedonistic, with a vivid ruby color, this charming wine exhibits black cherry, raspberry, baking spice and black pepper aromas and flavors. The bright, fresh finish results in a wine that is harmonious with many foods and occasions.

2012 Doña Silvina ‘Fresh’ Malbec, $14.99
The winery Bodegas Krontiras began in 2003 and refers to the Greek born Mr. Constantinos Krontiras family. The label name of Dona Silvina is in honor of his Argentine wife who oversaw the construction of the winery and the design of the labels. Constantino’s passion for wine led him back to his wife’s birthplace in Mendoza. He started in 2003, when he acquired two vineyards: a 20-acre, 120-year-old vineyard in the Lunlunta, Perdriel subregion of Lujan de Cuyo, and then a 45-acre vineyard that he planted in Villa Seca, Maipu. This certified organic and soon to be Demeter certified biodynamic property embraces wine as a living system.

The winery was built so that it works in an eco-friendly way and fulfills Bodegas Krontiras' main rule: to respect nature from the vineyards to the final product. This 100 percent Malbec is made with estate-grown organic fruit from the Villa Seca vineyard in Maipu. It is unique in that it sees no oak treatment, only stainless steel tanks, and it also goes through carbonic maceration. The process leads to a bright, fruit-driven fresh wine to be enjoyed young.

With the absence of oak, the wine shows the true color of Malbec with an intense and bright electric, almost neon purple that seems like it could jump out of the glass and light up the room. The wine shows notes of violets, fresh plums and blueberries and fresh turned earth with a velvety mouth feel. The soft tannic structure from the carbonic maceration results in a smooth, long finish.