Paso Robles-based Ancient Peaks recently dropped two new reds for wintertime sipping. Let’s give them a try as the temperature starts to dip.
2020 Ancient Peaks Merlot Santa Margarita Ranch – Surprisingly pruny for merlot, with notes of blackberry jam and well-steeped tea informing a dusky, licorice-fueled body. Far more extracted than expected for a merlot, the expected florals from this delicate grape never really materialize, finishing on a mouth-smacking character that would be more expected from a bottle of zinfandel. B- / $22
2019 Ancient Peaks Oyster Ridge Santa Margarita Ranch – Winter is coming, which means it’s about time for wines like this, a huge-ass blend of 72% cabernet sauvignon, 11% cabernet franc, 9% petit verdot, 6% merlot, and 2% malbec. Heady chocolate sauce notes find a compatriot in notes of plump currants, anise, and a gentle layer of spice. While a hint of red flowers threaten to lighten things up, they don’t get very far, the cocoa notes kicking back into overdrive. The epic finish never lets up — which is a good thing and a bad. Still, for “big cab” lovers, this one’s a hit. A- / $60 [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]