When it comes to receiving gifts, red wine lovers are the easiest to please.
There are so many exceptional choices that its just a matter of having some idea of the intended recipient’s preferences.
Red wine grapes each have their own flavour profiles – Pinot Noir can taste like strawberries, Merlot often tastes like plums, Syrah and Petit Verdot are reminiscent of raspberries or blackberries, Cabernet Sauvignon has blackcurrant flavours. Blended red wines combine different varieties of grapes that each contribute their own distinct flavours.
Our own Vintner’s Quality Alliance approved BC red wines are excellent examples. Diabolica VQA Red (71142) $12.05 combines Merlot, Petit Verdot, Shiraz and Cabernet for a mouthful of cherry and pomegranate flavours that slide into blueberries, boysenberries and plums. Usually priced at $14.99, this tasty red is available in some private store for $12.05 this month!
Sangiovese is a dark-berried vine and the most widely planted grape variety in Italy. Chianti in Tuscany in north-central Italy, is home to probably the best-known and most iconic of all Italian wines. The Chianti wine zone was officially designated by Cosimo Medici III in the early 18th Century and the wine’s defining character was originally defined by Barone Ricasoli in the late 19th century.
A light, fruity red with dried plum and sour cherry flavours Straccali Chianti (87072) $13.60 is one of the best-priced bargains in its category. Medium body with fine tannins and a fresh finish, it exudes dried cherry and strawberry aromas and flavors and is perfectly suited for pairing with turkey and ham.
Between Vienne and Avignon, on the banks of the Rhone River, the vineyards of the Côtes du Rhône are renowned for their red blends made from Grenache, Syrah and Carignan. Sun baked vines produce dark and dusty ripe grapes.
Arnoux & Fils Vieux Clocher Côtes du Rhône (55186) $33.99 is decidedly ruby in color with a beautiful bouquet of red and black berry fruit aromas with pronounced notes of wild blackberries and a peppery finish of dry black liquorice.
Interesting red wines are many and various – even here in British Columbia. Recently some of our own winemakers have been working with the red grape that is synonymous with South Africa – where it was developed as a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut in 1925 by Abraham Izak Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at Stellenbosch University.
In a class by itself Stoneboat Rock Opera Reserve Pinotage (383836) $25.65 overflows with dusty, dark sweet damson plum and black cherry, clove and cinnamon spice and chocolate flavours framed by lush, smoky, earthy tannins that lead into a long smooth finish.
Beyond their traditional Chiantis, Italy’s Tuscany has become almost as well known for their Super-Tuscans. In the 1970s, some Tuscan producers decided the legal rules governing the production of Chianti were too restrictive. They came up with the term ‘Super Tuscan’ to distinguish their wines from inexpensive, lower-quality wines.
A blend of 70 per cent Merlot, 15 per cent Sangiovese and 15 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon Le Volte dell’Ornellaia (431155) $33.99 oozes aromas and flavours of ripe black plums, prunes, blackberries and blackcurrants in a dense and dusky dry style. Decant this delicious red for an hour to really let it shine!
Is there any red grape that doesn’t make delicious wines in California?
Zinfandel has become so much of a California specialty that Italian winemakers are renaming their Primitivo to take advantage of the popularity of the California versions. At the same time well made California Cabernet Sauvignons have become the benchmark for quality wines made from this varietal.
The 2013 vintage of Earthquake Zinfandel (336925) is 100 per cent Old Vine Zinfandel from Lodi, California and aged in American oak. It is no wimpy Zinfandel at 15.5% alcohol – full-bodied, boasting briary, peppery, meaty and herbal black fruits and some ripe red fruit flavours.
Planted in the most favourable sites in California’s Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon routinely produces deeply coloured red wines that overflow with red and black berry fruit flavours and earthy mint and leathery eucalyptus complexities.
With the generous addition of Merlot and smaller measures of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (561126) $52.60 showcases raspberry, blackberry and blackcurrant flavours over intriguing layers of mint, fresh cut tobacco and cedar.
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