What to Drink Now: Inky Reds

Toast the end of the winter season with robust wines.

Though spring is on the horizon, inky and dense reds still make me swoon this time of year. Here are a few to sip. (Some were sent for editorial consideration.)

Texas wines reign in this category as hot days and cool High Plains and Hill County AVA nights create interesting, intense wines. Sangiovese and Tempranillo are the state standards from stellar wineries like McPhersonDuchman, and Pedernales, but dense, sun-driven varieties like Mourvedre and Carignan are also making their presence known. Look for options like William Chris Mourvedre, Bending Branch Tannat,  and complex Tinto Cao from Lewis Cellars.

Old-Vine Zinfandel in Sonoma

Zinfandel has many faces: juicy, jammy, earthy, and even peppery. Warm Calistoga brings luscious blackberry and black cherry to Grgich Hills Zinfandel from their 34-acre estate in the AVA. ($36, at Spec’s.)

Russian River is known for Pinot Noir, but in select pockets, Zinfandel thrives, as is evident in the 100-year-old Monfati Vineyard. Thanks to cooling winds from the Petaluma Gap blown up Russian River the black fruit filled wine also has fresh acidity melding with complex earthiness in Seghesio’s Monfati Vineyard Zinfandel. ($65, via their website.)

Lange Twins celebrates old-vines grown in the historic Lodi AVA Lewis Vineyard. Lange Twins Centennial Zinfandel hails from 110-year-old vines, creating a concentrated, elevated, elegant wine with black licorice and spice, highlighting the history of not only the five generations of farmers that have grown the grapes but also the storied past of old-vine Lodi Zinfandel. ($60, at Central Market.)

Iron-rich, volcanic soils add intensity and bold concentration to Paraduxx Howell Mountain Red Blend of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with 35% Syrah and a touch of Zinfandel. The result is a spicy, peppery, gastronomic wine begging for a grilled ribeye pairing. ($80, via their website.)

Hess Collection “Allomi” adds just enough Petit Sirah and Petit Verdot to add rich complexity to their Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Bold, yet balanced, with a long, lingering finish. ($32, at Dallas Fine Wine.)

Chianti Classico

Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico Riserva adds 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to Sangiovese for a tobacco, violet and plum filled Tuscan beauty. ($25, at Total Wine.)

Fattoria Selvapiana has been producing Sangiovese for five generations, now with the 2017 vintage, grown in certified organic soils. The signature wine from the estate, Chianti Rufina Riserva “Bucerchiale,” is produced from some of the oldest vines layering black fig, cedar, and plum. ($35, at

Sicily’s inky Tascante “Il Tascante” Nerello Mascalese showcases the oldest vines of the Mount Etna estate, delivering an intense wine with mouth-watering tannins best enjoyed with roasted meats, after a few hours of decanting. ($50, at Jimmy’s.)

Nebbiolo in Piedmont

Easy drinking, expressive Marchesi Di Gresy Nebbiolo Martinenga Langhe DOC layers bitter cherry with dusty earthiness. ($22 at Jimmy’s.)

Paso Robles shines with quality and diversity, as vintners discover broad ranges of varieties that produce impressive wines. Paso’s organically farmed Kukkula blends 11% Counoise into Syrah for their concentrated Noir Red with notes of pepper, blueberry, and sagebrush. ($50, via their website.)

Traditionally a blending grape, PasoPort Wine Company tiny production (70 cases) Touriga Nacional layers roasted coffee, woody rosemary, and blackberry in a textured, tannin-filled wine. ($49, via their website.)

J Lohr Tower Road Petit Sirah highlights power and punch, with complete balance. Well structured with toasted nutmeg, wildflowers, and blackberry. ($35, at Goody-Goody.)

Columbia Winery Columbia Valley Red Blend highlights the diversity of Washington, and it’s ability to produce both Rhone and Bordeaux varieties with approachable sophistication. ($14, at Kroger.)

Savory E Guigal Crozes-Hermitage highlights Syrah’s meaty qualities in a spicy, peppery wine with red berry and soft herbs. ($20, at Central Market.)

Malbec in Mendoza

Don Miguel Gascon has shown the beauty of Malbec for over 130 years. Gascon Reserva Malbec, from high altitude vines in Argentina’s Uco Valley, reveals ripe cherry and tobacco enhanced with bright, food-friendly acidity. ($25, at Total Wine.)

Thorn Merlot drinks like it’s Zinfandel based sister wine, The Prisoner, though made from 100% Merlot. High alcohol (15.2%,) enhancing the fruit-forward notes of black plum, mint, and vanilla. ($40, at

Petit Verdot, Petit Sirah, Zinfandel and Merlot meld for an unlikely, enjoyable blend in Line 39 Excursion Red Blend. Fruity with cedar, sweet clove, and chocolate. ($15, at Monticello Liquor.)