By Rick Riozza

It’s been said that when you fall in love, it’s temporary madness. Well—I know a rash of red wine quaffers who have continually loved their juice. It seems the madness is rather permanent.

And the love affair with red wine is about as true as it comes. Sure, they’ll have a fling with Sauv blanc and share a bit with a charming Chardonnay; but, come on folks—red wine is their passionate true love.

So for the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day, we’ll continue from last week, where we shared our red wine culinary picks for the day/week of love:


All true California Cab lovers already know about the Beringer Knights Valley brand. What we’re suggesting for a lovely dinner evening, is the “Reserve” bottle: 2018 Beringer Knights Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvingon ($70).

Beringer Vineyards has owned and farmed its Knights Valley vineyards since the mid-1960’s, when the Beringer family recognized that the cobbled alluvial soils were a great place to grow high quality wine grapes. The Knights Valley designation was first used on a Beringer label in 1974. Beringer was instrumental in garnering official recognition for the area in 1983 as a premier wine growing region in the form of its own American Viticulture Area (AVA) designation.

As we have mentioned in our recent columns, the 2018 is an exceptional vintage—actually one for the record books, when it comes to Napa and Sonoma Cabs. The 2018 season started with a cool spring that delayed flowering but fruit set was fine and even. With few exceptions, summer was moderate, sunny and dry without major heat spikes.

Knights Valley lies in the shadow of Mount St. Helena with hilly terrain that descends to rocky, alluvial soils where ancient rivers once ran. Warm during the day, cool at night, this well-draining site produces bold and richly structured reds with intense dark fruit. The 2018 season found fine weather continuing on through the fall, allowing Cabernet Sauvignon to hang longer on the vine to develop flavors and achieve phenolic ripeness without additional sugar accumulation, resulting in beautiful structure, intense color, concentration of fruit and excellent balance in the wines.

The Knights Valley Reserve, is just that: a “reserve” wine—the best grapes of the vineyard. The 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine was aged in small French Nevers oak barrels (51% percent new) for 20 months, enhancing the rich mouthfeel and structure.

And the results: “Its deep purple color is followed by a classic, nicely structured Knights Valley Cabernet with lots of savory red and black fruits, loamy earth, tobacco leaf, and spice-driven aromas and flavors. With beautiful richness and mid-palate depth, ripe yet present tannins, and outstanding length.” Wine critic Dunnuck gave the wine 94 points!

Now let’s take a Burgundian move over to a Pinot Noir: 2019 Cakebread Cellars Two Creeks Vineyards, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir ($45). Considering the quality of this wine, which can match the quality of a hundred dollar Pinot, it’s the Valentine’s deal of the week.

Since its founding in 1973, two generations of the Cakebread family have created one of the most successful and respected wineries in America. The property has everything going for it: owns world-class estate vineyards; the winery and tasting room are known for their warm hospitality, and, there’s a determined focus on sustainable vineyard and wine making practices in their continual pursuit to produce premium wines.

Pinot Noir lovers know the quality of Anderson Valley fruit: It’s one of the best wine regions to grow their beloved Pinot. Everyone’s happy to know that the 2019 Cakebread Pinot was produced with ideal extraction of color, flavor, and tannin, while aging in new French oak, thus enhancing complexity. Aromas of sweet black cherry, raspberry, rose petal and violet carry over onto a fresh palate of dense flavors of ripe black cherry, red cherry, strawberry and plum, supported by fine, supple tannins.

Hold on! The layered complexities glide into a round, long finish highlighting bright raspberry, cherry and mineral tones, all within a smooth-smooth finish. What’s not to adore with this wine! Happy Valentine’s Baby!

So while we’re figuratively here at Cakebread, let’s continue and consider the 2019 Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvingon, Napa Valley ($70). As we mentioned in our last column, if we can’t treat ourselves to a world class bottle of red wine on this day of love—well, what are we up to?

We always enjoy this Cakebread Cab with a rare-cooked New York with sautéed mushrooms atop. It is as good as it gets!—that yearning love match of steak and red wine. It’s classic stuff! It brings to mind that epiphany wine moment when you realized your love affair with Cabernet is forever.

The Cab Sauv reveals aromas of ripe blackberry and boysenberry with hints of dark chocolate and sweet oak. Then you’re tasting a big, boldly structured Cabernet with deep concentrated black fruits with intriguing dusty, loamy, and mineral-y accents in the mix; particular blackberry, dark cherry, cassis, Mission fig, all lovely and plush.

Love is in the air and in your glass! Cheers—Here’s to Love!

Rick is your loving somm-about-town, cheering it up with love all around. Contact him at ye olde email address: