My Essential Red, 2010 California Appellation
“This is a cabernet sauvignon blended with cab franc, merlot, and a petit verdot. The grapes are grown in Santa Ynez, a region that is producing some of the best and least-known cabernet in California making it a real value. The wine is aged for two years in only old French oak, creating high aromatic tones. Pair it with anything except sushi. It’s amazing with grilled birds and meat.” Available at Avondale Wine + Cheese Shop, $20.
$20 - $49
Wind Gap Sonoma Coast Syrah, 2011
“Winemaker Pax Mahle crafts this syrah in an elegant, Old World fashion. Rather than an over-blown California flavor, it’s elegant, fermented with clusters intact (which means they don’t steam the grapes first) and then aged in old wood. It’s a modest 11.4 percent alcohol, meaning it’s refreshing and you can drink a ton of it.” Available at Avondale Wine + Cheese Shop, $36.
$50 and Up
MATTHIASSON Napa Valley Merlot, Red Hen Vineyard, 2010
“This wine is just super and shows how special merlot can be when taken seriously. It’s also a really great example of how grace and girth can co-exist. Not a best friend to fish, but goes well with red meat and pork.” Available at Avondale Wine + Cheese Shop, $80.