Warm up

with fruit-driven red wines!

Need a resolution that you will enjoy immensely?

Resolve to attend the 41st Annual Vancouver International Wine Festival which will run from February 23 through March 3, 2019 at numerous venues in Vancouver.

Meanwhile, moving into the New Year, there's a red wine for almost any wine lover's taste or budget.

As close to being as affordable as Canadian wine ever gets to be,The Winemaker's House Merlot comes from the same multifaceted wine manufacturing enterprise that brings us Screw It!, Painted Turtle, Kindle, Pendragon, Mission Ridge, Mission Hill, Prospect, Road 13, Cedar Creek, Checkmate, etc... Mark Anthony Wine & Spirits!

Merlot is the most widely planted red wine grape in the Okanagan Valley. Formerly categorized as CIC - 'Cellared in Canada' - now known an ICB – 'International Canadian Blend' - The Winemaker's House Merlot $6.99 likely has some home grown grapes in its juicy, plummy, berry blend.

Fowles Wine is based in the one of the coolest regions in Australia – the Strathbogie Ranges of Victoria. Fowles line of 'Farm to Table' wines are deliberately on the leaner side, dialed-back from that typically Australian over-the-top fruitiness, better suited to the dinner table.

Created to pair with farm raised meats – as opposed to hunted/game meats - Farm to Table Cabernet Merlot 2015 $15.99 features subtle cherry and blackcurrant notes over fresh cut green pepper and a sprinkling of mint and toasty oak in the finish.

Malbec is Argentina's flagship red variety. If you just discovered Argentine Malbec in 2018, there's no need to end your explorations of this elegantly unassuming wine grape in 2019. New examples continue to arrive almost weekly.

Grupo Penaflor S.A. is a consortium of Argentine wineries that includes well known producers like Trapiche, Mascota and Santa Ana. New to BC from Penaflor, Finca El Camino Malbec $15.99 is a medium bodied red that combines lush, juicy, dusky cherry and blueberry fruit flavours with silky ripe tannins, earthy olive and nutty almond notes.

French reds continue to evolve and fascinate us. East of famed Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the southern Rhone Valley, Ventoux was recognized with Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) status in 1973.

Beyond simply organic, Terra Ventoux Les 5 Terroirs Vieilles Vignes Rouge 2015 $16.99 embraces biodynamic priciples - “respecting the rhythms of nature and promoting harmony between the cosmos, the plants, the life of the soil and the gestures of man”. Primarily Grenache, ripe plums, prunes and blackberry fruit flavours dominate this mouthful with the spiciness of Syrah adding weight to the finish.

Some of the oldest Vitis Vinifera vines in the Okanagan Valley were planted by Joe Busnardo in Divino Estate Winery's 70 acres of vineyards in the early 1980s. Today those are the vineyards of Hester Creek Estate Winery.

A complex blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Franc , Hester Creek Character Red Blend $18.99 is aged for 8 months in American and French oak barrels. This gorgeous red oozes red and black berry and currant fruit flavours from first sip. Cappuccino, dark chocolate, coffee, liquorice and clove notes simmer along beneath the fruit.

South of France's famed Bordeaux in Gascony, tucked under the Pyrenees, Madiran is a little known wine village where the edgy, tannic Tannat grape is the basis of most reds. In 1980 there were only 15 acres of vines in Madiran. Now there are 3,200 acres, and fine red wines are emerging.

Needing a year or two in the cellar or 24 hrs in a decanter to really shed its stuffing, Château Peyros 2013 Madiran Tannat-Cabernet $19.99 is a sturdy mouthful of dry red wine. Intriguingly dusty dried cherry and raspberry fruit flavours are enhanced by the plum, blackcurrant and mint nuances of the Cabernet and the peppery, earthy 'structure' of the Tannat.

Tannat from Uruguay's Bodega Garzon will be featured at VanWineFest in February. Don't forget to attend the 41st Annual Vancouver International Wine Festival. Details available at VanWineFest.ca.

Reach WineWise by emailing douglas_sloan@yahoo.com