By Virginia Switzer
October 12, 2009

Whether you’re celebrating a momentous wedding anniversary,a cornerstone birthday, or just in need of a really sophisticated bottle of redto impress your guests here are three beautiful California wines that will makea great addition to your collection. After sampling around 50 different bottlesof wine during my Wine Country visit I picked three of my favorites. I know youwill fall in love with their vintage finesse that pairs well with any occasion.

Silver Oak Cellars, 2004 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

The complex flavor of this elegant wine selection lendsaromatic hints of black plum, soy sauce and rose petals completed by a smoothfinish. Silver Oak Cellars blends prior to barreling in American oak barrels toachieve the rich flavors of fruit before the oak element harmonizes the wine’scharacter. If stored properly this wine can be enjoyed up to 15 years.

Cook with: Cabernet-Braised Short Ribs with Dried Apricots

Cakebread Cellars, 2006 Pinot Noir Carneros, Napa Valley

I always tell loyal white wine drinkers who want to expandtheir palates and drink more reds to start off with a Pinot Noir. Pinots aregreat transitions because they are seductive wines with ripe tannins andgraceful fruity flavors. Cakebread Cellars is a distinguished winery thatconstructs many quality selections. The Pinot Noir Carneros hosts a silky,medium bodied taste with aromas of black cherry, raspberry, and lavender. To developadditional complexity, store this wine for 3-5 years longer.

Cook with: Pinot Noir Risotto With Rosemary Chicken

Duckhorn Vineyards, 2006 Napa Valley Merlot

The Duckhorn Vineyards Merlots are white house worthy andhave been featured at many presidential luncheons and dinner parties. Notesfrom the winemaker: “This Merlot offers a rich texture, ripe tannins andseamlessly integrated French oak. On the palate, polished flavors of red cherry and raspberryare accented by an enticing layer of graham cracker piecrust.” I look forward to a perfect, chilly fall evening when I can curl up next to a cozy firepit with a few close friends and open this standout vintage selection. 

Cook with: Rosemary-Merlot Flank Steak