Favorite Red Wines of 2021

by artfuldiner on December 24, 2021

in Artful Diner Mini Review, Breaking News, Opinion, Wine

Wine 3I tasted an interesting variety of wines in 2021, including several outstanding vintages during a recent sojourn to Greece and the Greek Islands. Of those, 5 white and 5 red are particularly recommended. My favorite red wines of 2021 are listed below.

Please note that prices quoted are approximate, depending upon where the wines are purchased; and, of course, all are subject to change. The prices in states other than Pennsylvania can vary significantly from retailer to retailer. So, it would certainly be to your advantage to spend some time surfing online for the best price point.

 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 20162016 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre (Italy): Allegrini is the most aclaimed winery in the Veneto region of northeast Italy. The family has been involved in winemaking for over six generations, playing a major role in the Valpolicella Classico area since the 16th century… However, it was Giovanni Allegrini, patriarch of the modern estate, who developed and perfected major innovations in the art of wine. He was among the first to question local viticultural techniques, revolutionize accepted practices, and emphasize quality.

While Amarone is Allegrini’s claim to fame, fortunately the winery also produces several other vintages that are of excellent quality – and also a good deal less expensive… The 2016 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre, for example, is a blend of 40% Corvina Veronese, 30%Corvinone, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Sangiovese. I’ve sampled this wine on numerous occasions; and it is a perennial favorite, remarkably consistent from year to year. Elegant and well-balanced, it possesses a long velvety finish and silky tannins. Readily available through PA State Stores, this highly-rated vintage is a bargain at $19.99.


Chad Alexander2019 Chad Pinot Noir Willamette Valley (Oregon): Winemaker Chad Alexander’s name is probably not terribly familiar to most readers… perhaps because his is a negociant label that was launched during the economic crisis in 2009 to take advantage of inventory that had backed up at prestigious wineries and to protect the brand of the maker. Wineries bottle their new wines in “shiners,” that is, wine bottles without label or branded cork. Mr. Alexander offers a price on the entire lot that is substantially higher than the depressed bulk market but still dramatically less the intended retail. These “shiners” are then bottled under the Chad label.

Wines of this quality are generally found in bottles that are twice the price… That’s because what’s in the bottles IS twice the price! And the fact that these wines have made appearances in upscale restaurants like The Odeon and Bar Boulud in New York City is a testimony to their superior quality.

The 2019 Chad Pinot Noir, for example, is the very essence of Oregon Pinot. On the nose, black cherry predominates, along with a beguiling touch of spice. On the palate, this is pure Pinot, vibrant & complex, with an abundance of berry fruit flavors and soft, silky tannins. The finish is smooth, long and elegant.

This is an outstanding wine… an equally outstanding price point. The lowest listing I’ve seen online is $19.99 per bottle (plus shipping) at Central Wine Merchants of Flemington, New Jersey.


Don Melchor 20182018 Concha y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile): “This is amazing.” So wrote wine critic James Suckling after bestowing an unheard-of 100-point rating. A consistently highly-praised wine year after year, the iconic 2018 Don Melchor is particularly polished, harmonious, and downright delicious. Produced from 181 lots covering 151 different vineyard parcels, this is only the second time that the blend has included all four Bordeaux varieties on the estate – 91% Cabernet Sauvignon with 5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot.

As winemaker Enrique Tirado has noted: “The wine manages to produce that unique sensation you only get from great wines and great harvests.” I have personally tasted this wine and, thankfully, I still have two bottles left in the cellar. It is spectacular… there is simply no other word for it.

It is currently available through PA State Stores at $119.99.


Ken Forrester - Pinotage2018 Ken Forrester Petit Pinotage (South Africa): Indigenous to South Africa, Pinotage is a grape crossing of Cinsaut (called Hermitage) and Pinot Noir. Acutely aware that Pinot Noir struggled in South Africa’s climate, scientist Abraham Perold decided to cross it with Cinsaut, a very productive species. His goal was to create a wine that was as delicious as Pinot Noir but that grew as well as Cinsaut. The results, however, were somewhat mixed. The Pinotage grape was extremely dark in color and the wine it created quite bold in character… It was nothing like its progenitors. Plagued with difficulties from the very beginning, what winemakers failed to realize was that while Pinotage was a very easy wine to make, it was an extremely difficult wine to make well. Fortunately, however, in the last 15 years, thing have begun to change for the better.

… And the 2018 Ken Forrester Petit is the quintessential well-made Pinotage. It is decidedly fruit forward but with an intriguing, earthy quality. As Forbes food/wine writer John Mariani noted: “A very good price for a splendid ‘little’ Pinotage whose elements are impeccably blended in an unoaked version of the varietal.” And speaking of price… a mere $11.99 at your local PA State Store.


Stoller Winery - Owner Bill Stoller2018 Stoller Dundee Hills Pinot Noir (Oregon): I first tasted the 2018 in the Purser’s Pub at the Inn at Perry Cabin during a trip to St. Michaels, Maryland, and was immediately impressed. This is simply a lovely wine from start to finish. In the glass, it is a bright ruby color; and the equally bright nose is alive with the aromas of red fruits. It is soft and elegant on the palate, with smooth silky tannins and a long ethereal finish.

Wine critic James Suckling bestowed 92 points and called the 2018 Stoller “their finest release under this estate label.” And wine writer Gus Clemens added: “Stoller is doing something right, and we get a very approachable superb expression of Willamette Valley pinot at a fair price and a fair chance of finding it.”

And speaking of price… The 2018 Stoller Dundee Hills Pinot Noir will cost you $27.99 per bottle in Pennsylvania State Stores… On the other hand, it is available online from The Wine Buyer in Wayne, New Jersey, at $18.99 per bottle. This is where I purchased my six bottles, and the shipping was only about $16.00. So, this is one instance in which you can save a bundle by shopping online.


Be Safe & Stay Well


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