In my continuing search for reasonably-priced wines for holiday dinner parties or meals out at favorite BYOBs, this week I’m seeing red.
Renato Ratti is a prestigious wine family in Italy’s Piedmont region who offers two delicious red wines. Begin with the stylish 2010 Barbera Torriglione from Ratti’s vineyard in La Morra. It’s pure barbera fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged in French oak barrels. Unlike some modern barberas, the oak influence is limited, allowing the flavorful fruit to be front and center. Perfumed and savory, the 2010 Ratti Barbera Torriglione is perfect with a first course of salami, sopresatta and roasted peppers, or pasta with a meat ragu.
Nebbiolo is the grape of Barolo and Barbaresco. And as much as I adore these wines, they are expensive. But with the 2009 Nebbiolo Ochetti, Ratti cuts the cost while preserving the grape’s pleasure by harvesting the nebbiolo from mature vines in Roero, a district outside the renowned Barolo and Barbaresco zones.
The wine has a garnet color and mingles appealing aromas and flavors of cranberry, raspberry and cherry. Supple tannins and nebbiolo’s natural acidity bring balance and length to this well-made wine. Pour the 2009 Ratti Nebbiolo Ochetti with lamb chops, filet mignon, or duck cooked in any form, and you’ll have an elegant combination.
The Ratti wines retail for about $20.
Bodegas Muriel’s 2007 Crianza and 2005 Riserva are excellent examples of Rioja’s virtues. Both wines are pure tempranillo. The 2007 Muriel Crianza is aged for one year in oak barrels and another year in bottle, as required for Crianza classification.
Its bright cherry hue and red fruit and cinnamon aromas are instantly appealing. Ripe fruit and mild oak flavors with soft tannins will please your palate. Pour a glass with grilled Portobello mushrooms, chili, or beef lasagna. At $18, your pocket will be happy, too.
Reserva-designated wines must be aged at least 18 months in barrel and bottle, respectively. The 2005 Muriel Reserva exceeds both requirements by six months.
It’s darker than the crianza and mixes aromas of black cherries and roses. An elegant texture results from the flavors of ripe blackberries and cherries, round tannins and mild acidity. I enjoyed the 2005 Muriel Reserva with pork sausages, roasted fennel and yellow peppers. It will also complement a chorizo quesadilla, roast suckling pig, or grilled chicken thighs with ratatouille. Isn’t $22 a modest amount for four years of aging and hours of pleasure?