French and American winemakers both have great reputations for making an array of red wines — both often working with the same grape varieties — ranging from affordable, drink-me-now bottles to complex, put-me-in-the-cellar classics. This selection for the holidays ranges from $7 to $165 in price — wines suitable for both party drinking and elegant gift-giving — with an emphasis on selections from Napa Valley and Beaujolais.
La Bergerie “Le Cerisaie” Anjou 2014 ($7). Lots of green, herbal tastes to go with tart cherry flavor.
Bernard Baudry Les Granges Chinon 2014 ($10). Gamey and lean with red cherry flavor.
Noble Vines “337” Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($11). Sweetish with perfumed flavors plus blackberry pie notes and good acidity.
Marc Mondavi’s “The Divining Rod” Lodi Red 2014 ($13). A zinfandel-led blend for people who like fruity, sweetish reds.
Tom Gore California Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($13). Fruity and perfumed with some nice tannins, but the wood flavors aren’t quite integrated.
Domaine Dozon “C du Plaisir” Chinon 2013 ($14). Green notes of cabernet franc are pleasantly woven into the tart cherry fruit.
Christophe Pacalet Moulin-à-Vent 2014 ($16). Pastel fruit but with a lot of earthy mushroom notes.
Clos du Tue-Boeuf Vin Rouge 2015 ($16). Quaffable gamay, light, and gamey with a touch of tartness.
Marc Mondavi’s “The Divining Rod” Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($18). Like a wine brownie — very granular with mixture of cherry, cranberry, and dusty tannin flavors.
Georges Duboeuf Château de Nervers Brouilly 2015 ($20). Classic Beaujolais with lots of cherries up front and lean strawberries in the finish.
Georges Duboeuf Domaine des Quatre Vents Fleurie 2015 ($22). Tangy cherry fruit with good structure and balance.
Trig Point Diamond Dust Alexander Valley Merlot 2014 ($22). Ripe, rich fruit with good acidity and some chalky notes.
Domaine Chignard Beauvernay Juliénas 2014 ($23). Lively, light-bodied gamay with fresh strawberry flavor.
Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Merlot 2013 ($23). Bright cherry flavor; pleasantly tangy with lots of flavorful tannins.
Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($28). Quite nice, falling in the category between big and fruity and light and lean with a closing tanginess.
Franciscan Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($29). Nicely integrated flavors of blackberry fruit and mellow wood with an almost lean finish.
Frank Family Napa Valley Petite Sirah 2013 ($35). Straightforward with rich, dark fruits, though not a lot of complexity and only moderate length.
M. Chapoutier “Agly Brothers” Côtes de Roussillon 2010 ($38). Just an excellent wine, big and lively (15.5 percent alcohol) with a great combination of savory and fruit (some dried) flavors.
Acumen Mountainside Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($50). Quite nice with smooth cherry flavors, savory undertones, and a lean finish.
Ehlers Estate St. Helena Merlot 2013 ($51). Flavors race across the palate with good fruit, eucalyptus notes, and nice structure.
Franciscan Magnificat Napa Valley Meritage 2013 ($55). In a classic style, a bit like a big Pauillac; still somewhat closed with lots of tannins but good fruit lurking underneath. Put it in the cellar or, if you can’t wait, decant it first for an hour or two.
Frank Family Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($52.50). Long and satisfying with good ripe fruit and excellent, firm tannins.
Flora Springs “Holiday Kisses” Napa Valley Red Wine ($57). In a holiday bottle, the wine has bright, ripe, fruit-forward cherry flavors with good structure, tannins, and acidity.
Pahlmeyer “Jayson” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($75). Lovely fruit, mainly cherry and cranberry — almost merlot-like with mature wood notes, and good textures and tannins.
Robert Mondavi “To Kalon” Napa Valley 50th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2013 ($165). Delicious, complex, big wine — dark cherry, dark chocolate, and eucalyptus flavors with lots of tannins; an ager.