So many different red wines to choose from…
As wine lovers, we develop our own particular favourites or specific regions in whatever country makes the kinds of wines that we have come to appreciate. Sometimes we become so locked-in to our favourite grapes, styles or wine-making regions that we overlook the amazing variety of wines that are available.
Still a powerhouse in the world wine market, Australia is best known for its white wines from Chardonnay and Semillon. Red wine lovers expect Australian wines to be Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon… but there is so much more!
Kingston Estate Petit Verdot (823096) $16.55 is an unusual offering from Australia. Originally from the cool Bordeaux region of France, this late harvest variety - ‘the little green one’ - struggles to ripen in its homeland. Kingston Estate grows Petit Verdot in deep sandy soils on limestone adjacent to the winery where the grapes reach full ripeness and intensity. A wonderfully earthy full bodied wine with deep dark ripe plum and mulberry fruit, dashes of leather and vanillin oak lead to a lingering fruit and spice finish.
Hawk Crest Red Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (30403) $18.20 is a second label from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.
We seldom have the opportunity to buy textbook California Cabernet Sauvignon that has already been aged to perfection. It overflows with ripe black cherry and cassis flavors, and hints of cedar, toast, sweet vanilla oak, sage, mint and eucalyptus and a spicy, earthy minerality.
Over the last 20 years there has been a revolution in quality in the red wines that our own Okanagan and Similkameen wineries produce. Maturing vines give winemakers riper grapes; those same winemakers have years of experience behind them. Over the last 10 years that same winemaking revolution has reached Vancouver Island wineries.
Blue Grouse Quill Red (712752) $18.40 This robust red wine is a blend of Vancouver Island and Okanagan Valley grapes – 44 per cent Marechal Foch, 28 per cent Merlot and 28 per cent Cabernet Franc. It was aged in oak barrels to develop the mid-palate and shows notes of vanilla, fresh-ground coffee beans and cocoa. No real surprise that this sturdy dry red was a Gold medal winner at the All Canadian Wine Awards!
Meanwhile, other talented British Columbia winemakers are working with wines made from 100 per cent single varietal grapes, often grown in specific single vineyards to enhance the qualities of that distinct terroir.
Orofino Scout Vineyard Syrah (653352) $29.95 is all Syrah from the vineyard of the same name on the Cawston Bench in the Similkameen Valley. Layers of dark, ripe blueberry and blackberry fruit aromas and flavours dominate over a medley of subtle but distinctly meaty complexities – smoked beef, bacon and savoury sausage. Don’t overlook this huge red with oodles of fruit and some serious French oak!
Winemakers frdequently devise an advantageous blend by adding other grapes or juice to wines that are eventually sold as single varietals. California’s best Zinfandels often incorporate Petite Sirah or Carignan.
With a dash of Petite Sirah, Michael David’s intriguingly named Earthquake Zinfandel (336925) $36.50 comes from an old Lodi vineyard planted around the time of San Francisco’s great Earthquake in 1906. Co-owner Michael J. Phillips thought it only seemed fitting to relate this intense wine with the historical quake. "This is Zinfandel at its richest. Boysenberry, vanilla and maple syrup aromas meet up with jammy fruit flavors that coat the mouth and linger on the finish.”
Some wines are more difficult to find than others. Rated at 91pts by Wine Spectator’s James Suckling, Monte Antico falls into that category.
In its dinner party sized 1.5L Magnum bottle Monte Antico Toscano Rosso 2010 (832477) $38.45 is a Tuscan classic. Primarily Sangiovese with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in supporting roles, it oozes aromas and flavours of dusky black cherry, liquorice, ripe and spicy plums and wet leather.
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