Food & dining

By the Glass

Old World value reds, terrific for winter sipping

Ellen Bhang for The Boston Globe

Chilly winter days find many of us replenishing wine racks with sturdy, more-for-your-money reds. Three Old World favorites are a pleasure to have on hand. They pair winningly with stews and braises, and reflect the distinctive places where they are made.

A 2016 Evodia “Altovinum,” a Spanish garnacha, was launched by importer Eric Solomon about a decade ago, after meeting winemakers Jean-Marc Lafage, originally from Roussillon, France, and Yolanda Diaz. They staked their claim on a high, arid plateau in Calatayud, located in Aragon, in northeastern Spain, where Diaz is from. Perched at 1,000 meters above sea level, the landscape is special, characterized by old vines growing in schist, a soil type often associated with Priorat, a three-hour drive east. Packaged in a heavy bottle sheathed in royal blue and black, it’s easy to spot on a retailer’s shelf.

A pair of doves adorn the label of a 2015 Morellino di Scansano, hailing from southwestern Tuscany. The Italian blend is crafted by pioneering winemaker Erik Banti, who started making pours back in the ’80s, just as the Maremma, near the Tyrrhenian Sea, began to emerge as a quality wine region. (Banti’s “Carato,” similarly decorated with a jaunty bird motif, is also a favorite.) Sangiovese, alicante, and merlot each spend a dozen days fermenting separately before being blended, then are aged in stainless steel to appealing effect.


Another bottle, a 2016 “Les Hérétiques” from Château d’Oupia, is a blend of mostly carignan with a measure of syrah. It hails from the Languedoc, in the sunny French South. This country wine, a Pays d’Hérault, which refers to a subregion named for a river, features a map of the constellations on its purple-hued label. It’s part of a line of wines launched by André Iché, a vigneron in Minervois who sold his wine to négociants prior to marketing his own. Today, his daughter Marie-Pierre Iché carries on her late father’s legacy.

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Because each of these vibrant pours is gently priced, don’t hesitate to add a liberal splash to a stew or braise — but save most for your glass and that of your grateful guests.

Evodia “Altovinum” Garnacha 2016 Brooding at first sniff, jammy fruit scents bloom after a little time in the glass. A concentrated mouthful of blackberries and black currants, accented by a note of salt. 14.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). Around $12. At Morrissey Boulevard Wines & Liquors, Dorchester, 617-533-8273; Mystic Wine Shoppe, Arlington, 781-646-2100.

Erik Banti Morellino di Scansano 2015 An attractive nose of cherry, garden soil, and violets leads to a lively palate with appetizing tannins and black pepper. 14 percent ABV. Around $15. At Cambridge Wine & Spirits, Fresh Pond, Cambridge, 617-864-7171; Cellar Wine & Spirits, Central Square, Cambridge, 617-547-3111.

Château d’Oupia “Les Hérétiques” Pays d’Hérault 2016 Vivid scents of berries, violets, and leafiness. A ripe and vibrant palate featuring blackberries, plum skin, and black pepper, with a gently chewy texture. 13.5 percent ABV. Around $11. At Boston Wine Exchange, Boston, 617-422-0100; Reveler Beverage Co., Needham, 781-400-1203.

Ellen Bhang can be reached at