I’ve written about winter white wines, in Winter Wonderland Whites: Think Wine, Regionality, Food, and Umani Ronchi Vellodoro Pecorino. I also want to pay homage to winter reds as Heartwarming Wines, because they just are. National Heart Month is February, as you probably remember. Focusing on reds now, most especially, is very evocative for anything to do with red: red wines, Valentine’s Day, and heartiness food (yes, I deliberately misspelled hardy).

So, here were go. Lately I’ve had quite a few noteworthy red wines, and these are some of my favorites. And, these wines are either samples, or – in the case of St. Supéry, I was at the winery.

Part 1 (link)


Part 2 (today)



~ Heartwarming Red Wine Reviews ~

Ferraton Père & Fils Côtes-du-Rhône “Samorëns” Red

When Ferraton Père & Fils samples arrive, it’s always time to celebrate. These wines are reliably delicious and are also great value wines. Flavors from France are now settling on my palate as familiar. I’m eternally grateful to Ferraton Père & Fils , Georges Duboeuf Wines, and Chateau Roubine Cru Classé to thank for that part of my wine education. Terroir is terroir is terroir. Anyone who wants to debunk that, let’s do a simple tasting… tiny Maine, coastal blueberries versus California or New Jersey’s. I can tell you right now that Maine is going to walk away with the prize, and you – my doubting friend – will be rethinking your doubt.

So, the Ferraton Pere & Fils sample arrived and we shared the joy with friends, knowing ahead of time it wouldn’t disappoint… and it didn’t.

WINERY: Ferraton Père & Fils in Tain-l’Hermitage reliably delivers beautifully made, competitively priced Rhône Valley wines. GM Damien Brisset has overseen winemaking and viticulture at Ferraton for over 15 years, and enjoys an intense, yet friendly rivalry with Ferraton owner Michel Chapoutier. Where Ferraton is concerned, Chapoutier is careful to take a markedly hands-off approach, concentrating instead on his family’s own eponymous Rhône winery and other winemaking ventures around the world.

Besides consistently delicious wines, let’s talk about this one in more depth. While this seems like a playful relationship, it’s delivering high quality for their affordable prices.

“GM Damien Brisset has overseen winemaking and viticulture at Ferraton for over 15 years, and enjoys an intense, yet friendly rivalry with Ferraton owner Michel Chapoutier. Where Ferraton is concerned, Chapoutier is careful to take a markedly hands-off approach, concentrating instead on his family’s own eponymous Rhône winery and other winemaking ventures around the world.

Being in the wine business for nearly 30 years, as a consultant, there is nothing more delightful than having a relationship with an owner, who pretty much lets one do the job she or he has been hired to do. I so respect Michel Chapoutier for his respect for Damien Brisset. This allows for consistency and hose good vibes are are actually reflected in the wine… Again, terroir… This is part of it. (Imagine making a cake while you’re angry and hurried…)

This info was crafted for Ferraton Pere & Fils, so I’d consider the wine for tasting. Back-up material in a request to send a sample is so helpful, and when it’s this good, I’m not going to re-craft the message. It’s just worth sharing as is.

With an annual production of about 350,000 bottles, a slew of top-rated wines from the area’s most prestigious appellations, plus classic, over-performing values for everyday enjoyment, Ferraton gives Rhône’s well-known “big guns” serious competition. In recent decades, wines from this modestly sized producer-négociant have developed an outsize reputation among an inner circle of Rhône wine faithful as the standard by which others are judged.

Twenty percent of Ferraton production is estate wines. All are biodynamic and, since 2015, Demeter-certified, with fruit coming from the domaine’s 37 acres of prime vineyards in the northern Rhône’s Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage and St. Joseph appellations.

Ferraton’s négociant range, sourced entirely from sustainably farmed fruit, includes bottlings from the northern Rhône’s Côte Rôtie, Condrieu, St.-Joseph and Cornas appellations, plus Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côtes du Rhône-Villages Plan de Dieu and Côtes du Rhône in the southern Rhône.

For vegetarians, my food recommendation is something French with lots of cheese and onions, Mashed potato pie baked in rustic pan with onions and Parmesan cheese… simply delicious.


St. Supéry Merlot, Rutherford Estate Vineyard, Napa Valley

It all began with Premier Napa Valley. I’ve known about it for years, but never quite understood what’s going on. I can’t keep up with all of it. I could be away from ho9me everyday, but I don’t know how I would get work done, so I shy away from most events.

I was just speaking with Patrick Connelly,  general manager of Quixote Winery, who gave a bit of history of it’s evolution. Marketing for premier Napa Valley wines was originally for intense consumers, searching for the best of the best. In the beginning, there were many consumers in attendance, with some media allowed to have access. It culminates in an auction for high lots. Now, some big buyers of wine are in the mix, and they also buy big! There are many more details, which you can read, by clicking on the link above.

I was just at the Rutherford Dust Society’s preview event with a media pass, and enjoyed some really scrumptious wines. Even though the emphasis of what I was tasting was about epitimous Rutherford Cabs, I’m going to write about this St. Supéry Merlot, from their Rutherford Estate Vineyard, in Napa Valley… Because this created a huge paradigm shift for me.

Quick digress to Maine in the 80s and me “trying” to like Merlot, as my first wine adventure. This went on for years, then I let it go for all these years; because if it’s not for you, there’s so much more that is and we move on, right?

But… big but… At St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery, when Jose and I arrived, CEO Emma Swain was standing at the top of the stairs, greeting everyone. We met a couple of years ago. Then, out of the blue, she sent very special St. Supéry wines to Jose and me as a follow-up. She’s so adept at leading her staff, so well respected… dare I say loved?  She’s managing the winery’s financial success, any and all hiccups that comes along, high powered meetings, you name it, she’s doing it… including surprising us. And, for two years I thought about her marvelous energy. There’s something girl-friendly about it that’s hard to explain. It’s just who Emma Swain is.

So, Merlot, Emma wanted me to taste her 2016 St. Supéry Merlot, Rutherford Estate Vineyard, Napa Valley. I decided to open my mind this time, she was just so friendly. What an unbelievable experience, when you haven’t tasted one specific variety with one’s own personal baggage, since the 90s.

The WOW Moment

Swirled, sniffed, looked intently into the glass, swirled and sniffed again, then tasted. It was so soft and welcoming, I had an epiphany, a new perspective emerged about how this St. Supéry would now define Merlot for me. This was what I expected way back when. It’s been a long road getting here, Merlot, but now I know where to find you. So yeah, I really loved it, Emma. Still do. Have you ever had one of those WOW moments, too?

Lots of raspberry fruit, like the joy of picking summer red raspberries on Sabattus Lake of days gone by. Between the raspberries and dark cherry notes, I fell in love with Merlot… if they can keep up with St. Supéry’s. If I were going to open a bottle for dinner, I’m going with Coq au Vin.

Imagine this Coq au Vin, braised with wine, herbs, mushrooms and vegetables, and served with your favorite Merlot.

And then there’s…

2016 Exitus Red Wine

It calls itself a “badass wine with a bourbon soul.” Every been to Bourbon Street in New Orleans? Yeah, it’s like that. Aged in Bourbon barrels, I put my big girl pants on for this one.

This wine is from Batch Number 1. (Suddenly, I feel very special! What took me so long?) Aged for three months in Bourbon barrels, you can expect complexity, unlike wines aging in oak without the flavors coming from barrels used to age spirits, and there’s lingering pleasure.

It’s 15.9 percent alcohol, so I was expecting an immediate buzz, and it delivered! The label reads BOLD & FEARLESS. Yup, it’s all there, and then there’s this cedar finish that lingers and lingers, with hints of bourbon. This wine is a very special treat, and I’m ready to pull out yesterday’s beef stew that simmered to perfection. Had I tasted this yesterday, I would have infused my beef stew, seriously. Plums and spice, if you love living on the edge, take this one with you.

This Exitus, with a sweetness all of its own, has been aging right here since it arrived, years ago. And, it’s so joyous to open it.

“With bourbon-soaked barrels in our cellar, Barrel Road uses them for aging; bringing in warm spice and additional layers of complexity to our red blend. This wine is a deep, brilliant red and opaque. On the nose, notes of black cherry, molasses, and toast create a strong, inviting aroma. The palate is smooth, showing ripe notes of blackberry and plum, followed by toffee, maple syrup, and a hint of caramel on the finish. The finish is soft and long lasting.”


EXITUS is an intentional departure from the ordinary.

Going far beyond the subtle “toast” of traditional wine barrels, Bourbon barrels are set ablaze, which creates a visibly blackened interior, known as a “char.” When introduced to a high proof moonshine like Bourbon, the caramelized wood sugars of the charred barrels react to deliver Bourbon’s signature mellow, smoky smooth profile – a nuance that we were determined to crossover into wine.

Aged in mature Bourbon barrels, Exitus boldly challenges convention to craft a distinctive red blend that stands apart. Exitus rests for three months in charred American oak barrels previously drenched in Kentucky Bourbon, resulting in a whole new level of depth, flavor and smoky intensity to the final blend. The payoff is a concentrated, statement red wine with rich layers of dark fruit, toasty oak and spice.

I think I need to have just a l-i-t-t-l-e… bit… more…


Beef and Sausage Stew, with a hearty wine… Takes me right back to my home state of Maine. I used to cook on our Jotul wood stove; all day for this one; to thicken and be ready for a hearty wine, this one…