For Easter and Passover, find red wines to go with lamb
Repeating last week's recommendation, there are many 10-20% discounts available for those who can afford to buy a case of wine. Be sure to search for your favorites, then ask your purveyor. Due to impending Valentine’s Day, it may be unlikely you can find sparklers on sale, but Passover and Easter wines can be brought in now. All that is necessary for storage, at least through mid-April, is a cool, dry space. It is wise to place these boxes with the bottle necks facing downward. Retape the box, open the bottom of it, then remove bottles as needed. Those buying a mixed case may wish to label by writing each wine’s position on the bottom flaps. Since many enjoy lamb during these holidays, let’s start with some suggestions for selecting well-regarded reds that won’t break the bank.
Spanish Monastrell is the same varietal known as Mourvèdre in France and the Americas, and Mataro in California and S. Australia. It loves dry climates and produces small, dark, thick-skinned berries. As you would expect, these produce dark-colored, tannic wines. The disparaging French nickname is étrangler-chien, which translates to “dog strangler.”
Clos Mogador Vi de Finca Priorat DOCa may be one of the best known, and rightfully so. It consistently rates in the mid- to high 90s. I had these on the Grove Market and Garden Gourmet wine lists back in the day. It is noteworthy that the 2023 is sold for a comparable price (around $105) as in 2013. Today you can buy the 2013 for around $125. The QPR is terrific. Hey, wait a minute McD, you wrote, "won't break the bank.” How about Bodegas Juan Gil 12 Meses Silver Label Monastrell, 92 plus 2 price points McD at $17? Inky, opaque purple. Redolent of toasted barrel, currant and blackberries; on the palate, cassis liqueur. It has great juicy concentration, and smooth tannins lead to an exceptionally long, balanced, clean, spicy, barrel-driven finish. My suggestion is buying a case of four each 2019-‘21. All three are 92 or better. It is possible for patient customers to get it under $180, and your wine store pal can make a fair buck also for the challenging work. Why the big price difference? The top writers love Mogador, and it is readily available. The value is being able to find older vintages at modest price increases. Another great Spanish buy is Clos i Terrasses Clos Erasmus Laurel Priorat DOCa 2016-‘19, under $65, 93 McD. These are produced by Daphne Glorian, a wine rockstar, arguably one of the best Spanish winemakers. RP loves her. Her top label, Clos Erasmus (no Laurel) rates high 90s, with two rated 100 and two at 99 since 2004, under $225, and the 2020 is projected at 100 points.
Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Cab 2019 was named wine value of the year by Wine Spectator’s Molesworth with a case discount of 25%. His review, 92 points, “Fresh, direct and focused, with red currant and cherry coulis notes that race through, dotted with savory, floral and tobacco accents. Judicious toast lets the fruit play out, and there's solid energy throughout. Drink now through 2030.” McD gives it 90, but a wonderful bargain. It’s 93% Cab, 5% Petite Sirah and Cab Franc, 18 months in 30% new oak. Aromas of cherry and tea leaves with strawberry, blackberry, cherry and barrel spices, back notes of eucalyptus, coffee, dark chocolate. Nicely balanced with subdued tannins, enough to support some aging but approachable now with some aeration.
As I write this ahead of Groundhog Day, I’m hoping Phil has good news. However, since we are in for some seasonal weather, I did a quick search last week and found some 94 McD Taylor Fladgate Quinta Vargellas Vintage Port 2015 listed at $40.99. Thought it was a typo but proceeded to call and learned they had four bottles, so I took a quick ride and bought them. Although they have plenty of shelf life left, I am hoping they are in their quiet time yet. There are more out there on sale in other locations.