Harvest 2019 has wrapped up, save small quantities of fruit destined for sweet late harvest wines. Beware of proclamations about the quality of the vintage—even the ones I myself have written. The proof will be in the bottle and we’ll start seeing the 2019s in the spring (for the whites and rosés) and further into the future (for the red wines).
This much is clear, however: in general, 2019 will likely be considered a better vintage than 2018, especially for red wines. Even given a somewhat rainy October.
But back, for a minute, to 2018. I don’t expect to be blown away by very many 2018 reds, but that doesn’t mean good wines won’t come from the leaner, less-ripe vintage. The wines will just be different—both intentionally and naturally.
Bedell Cellars 2018 First Crush Red is the first sub-$20 red I’ve tasted from 2018 and is the perfect Monday-through-Thursday night red wine.
“2018 was a cooler vintage,” says Bedell winemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich. “Many red grapes came in with higher acidity and lower sugar levels than in past vintages which actually lent itself well to making this kind of wine.”
First Crush Red is 70% merlot and 30% cabernet franc this year and half of the fruit went through carbonic maceration, a winemaking technique best known in the Beaujolais region of France, in which whole berries are fermented in a carbon dioxide-rich environment prior to crushing. The other half spent only one week on the skins, which according to Olsen-Harbich makes this wine “easy to drink with low tannin and lots of upfront fruit.”
Juicy and fresh, it smells and tastes of fresh red berries—mostly strawberries and red cherry—with a subtle earthiness. It’s light-bodied and a straightforward accompaniment to a wide range of foods.
“This is really made to be an everyday red wine that can be enjoyed with just about any dish,” says Olsen-Harbich. “Shellfish, grilled fish. Chicken, veal, pasta, pizza and burgers—you name it…it works!”