Valentine’s Day Red Wines

One way to count the progress of the year is by the months and seasons. At Whitehall Lane, being family farmers and wine merchants, we do both. Another way is to count the holidays — which means, if it’s early February (and it is), Valentine’s Day lies just ahead.

We can hear some of you groaning all the way over here in our patch of the Napa Valley. Part of that, we know, is that Valentine’s Day can be aggressively kitschy. All those exhortations to Think Pink: pink roses, chocolates in pink heart-shaped boxes, blush sparkling wines with vaguely naughty names, skimpy confections in fuchsia satin and lace.


That’s why, for this Valentine’s Day, we suggest you ignore the pinkwash and think in a different color. Think Red. You’ll find that Whitehall Lane’s portfolio of red releases include bottles that suit a variety of romantic styles. Let’s look at some gift suggestions.

Is your beloved quieter, perhaps even a little shy, the type that likes things to develop slowly?

Say hello to the 2009 Carneros Pinot Noir, crafted from grapes caressed by the cool breezes off San Pablo Bay in the southern part of the valley. The wine’s delicate fruit aromas flecked with spice are followed by clean flavors and silky tannins whose full character takes time to become apparent. You can’t rush good Pinot.

Perhaps your Valentine is the spontaneous sort, eager to try the unfamiliar, the unexpected.

If that’s the case, the 2010 Merlot awaits. Yes, Merlot. Even today, too many American merlots are thin and reedy and one-dimensional, and so folks are hesitant to try them. But we think your Valentine will find — especially if your Valentine is a cab enthusiast — that our merlot delivers layers of texture and flavor thanks in part to grapes grown in prime Rutherford earth and blending in different oaks. Not a default merlot (so go ahead, sip!)

Of course, it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without the hot-blooded take romance: bold, confident, even a little swaggering. Sound familiar?

Oh, yes. We know the type, too. In wine terms, that would be our 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, fashioned with finesse from Whitehall Lane’s top-drawer vineyard blocks. The wine is concentrated, intense and complexly layered but never overpowering or overblown. Even on Valentine’s Day, passion needs structure.