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15 Red Wines for Ol’ Dad

Great gifts from blends to pinots to cabs to zins

In spite of all the great gift ideas you might have for Father’s Day, remember that what Dad probably really wants this Sunday is something good to drink! Red wine is always a great idea, and we have 15 American reds for your consideration.          

Every wine has a story, of course, but three of those below are special concept wines, guaranteed to add a little something extra to chat about as you’re pulling the cork. For example, a blend by Barrell and Ink has the winemaker (Pax Mahle) and label designer (Lab Partners) collaborating on the art of the package; a Robert Mondavi cabernet was aged in bourbon barrels; and a Columbia Crest cab had all the winemaking decisions voted on by its crowd-sourcing investors.

Don’t forget the corkscrew!          

Noble Vines “337” Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($11)

Plummy, fruity, somewhat voluptuous but with low apparent tannins.

Robert Mondavi Monterey County Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($14)

Cab with a back shot of bourbon? Almost, as this wine was aged three months in whiskey barrels. Somewhat sweeter tastes of toffee add to traditional cab flavors; a wine guaranteed to inspire divided opinions.

Ravenswood Sonoma County Old Vines Zinfandel 2013 ($16)

A pleasant wine with tangy fruit, bitters at the edges, and nice tannins.

SLO Down “Stand Out” California Red Blend 2012 ($18)

A mix of slightly more cabernet sauvignon than merlot, this is a big wine with red fruit and creamy berry notes and some duskiness and carbon flavors.          

Columbia Crest “Crowdsourced” Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($24)

A wine made by the group decisions of its investors turns out to be very enjoyable, with murky, intense, but not jammy fruit — tangy raspberries — with smooth tannins.

Stinson Virginia Meritage 2013 ($32)

A very nice, full-flavored wine with tart red fruits, a medium body, and a lean finish.

Frank Family Napa Valley Zinfandel 2013 ($33)

Ripe, juicy black raspberries with hints of sweet oak and mild tannins — very drinkable.        

Gehricke Los Carneros Sonoma Pinot Noir ($37)

Rooty, creamy, some savory notes, long on the palate, with light tannins.

Barrel & Ink “Thief” Sonoma County Syrah/Grenache 2013 ($38)

A very good, complex wine with dark red fruitiness and a murky, savory finish — very Rhône-like.          

La Follette “Sangiacomo” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2015 ($38)

A big, almost burly wine for a pinot with lots of red fruitiness.

Admirable Santa Barbara Vigneronne Syrah and Merlot 2013 ($40)

On the savory side, with dark cherry flavors and some stemminess.         

Pfendler Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2014 ($40)

A big, somewhat aggressive pinot, but nevertheless it has lovely dark cherry flavors, good spiciness, and tangy tannins in the finish.

Gehricke Russian River Pinot Noir 2014 ($45)

An enjoyable lighter wine in the Burgundian fashion that is balanced enough to age well — elegant, a little gamey, some cola flavors.

Albatross Ridge Carmel Valley Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 2013 ($55)

A lighter wine with good structure, strawberry-raspberry fruits and a touch of smoky creaminess — very enjoyable.      

Chappellet Napa Valley Cabernet Franc 2012 ($74)

Needs some time to open up and become integrated; savory red fruit, a bit hot, with mild tannins.