Here is a grouping of red wines that have a lot of bold flavors, yet manageable tannins. However, most also have generous alcohol, which gives great mouth feel but will scare off a few people who have chosen to draw a line in their glasses at anything nearing 14 percent or more.
I like this batch of wines so well that I can’t just choose one as Pick of the Litter, so we’ll keep the whole lot of them.
2011 Vall Llach “Embruix” Priorat ($25). A big, thick wine with a single, flavorful layer of cassis, blackberry, and black raspberries. A blend of carignan, grenache, cabernet, merlot, and syrah, it is both savory and fruity with firm tannins. Quite enjoyable, and a bargain price for those who love big reds.
2010 Vall Llach Porrera “Vi de la Vila” Priorat ($65). A lovely, very big wine with dark and preserved fruits, chocolate and savory notes. It’s certainly drinkable now — I enjoyed it with a very rich goat cheese soufflé — but it will age well for several years.
2009 Vall Llach “Idus” Priorat ($50). Another stunner from Vall Llach — great textures, with delicious dark-chocolate and preserved-cherries flavors.
2009 Quinta do Noval Durinese “Cedro do Noval” red blend ($20). A very fresh, tart wine with piquant cherry fruit, good acidity and lean, bacony notes. Duriense is a table wine of the Douro Valley.
2012 HandCraft California Petite Sirah ($12). If you’ve never quite “gotten” petite sirah, try this wine. It’s a very generous, fruit-forward, yet well-structured wine with flavors of purple fruits and black truffles — a lot like a Languedoc blend.
2012 Gnarly Head Mendoza Malbec ($10). Excellent ripe-fruit intensity blended with a garrigue-like savory spiciness. There is a little gamey, sour-cream note in the finish. I could drink it forever, especially paired with grilled meats.
2011 Familia Zuccardi “Tito Zuccardi” Valle de Uco red blend ($32). Malbec-driven with generous dollops of cabernet sauvignon and ancellotta. A big, fruit-forward wine that is well-balanced and delicious — dark cherries, brown butter, bitter chocolate, and dried herbs in the finish.
2012 Familia Zuccardi “Emma Zuccardi” Argentina bonarda ($29). Another tribute-to-ancestors wine — smooth, great minerality, vibrant, red-cherry flavors. Very Bordeaux-like in flavor, but a bit more generous in structure — a good wine for sipping or with food.
2011 Amapola Creek “Monte Rosso” Sonoma Valley zinfandel ($39). A Dick Arrowood production that is big but leaner in flavors and structure than most Sonoma zins — a Bordeaux style with lots of acidity and, yes, balsamic notes, dark and tart cherries, a creamy, milk-chocolate finish, and well-integrated tannins. Not for the faint of heart.