Here we are in January, and although it’s a fresh new year, we’re still in the depths of winter. The weather certainly dictates much of the tone of our days, and whether it’s chilly with snow or damp and rainy, a big red wine often hits the spot.
This week, a quintet of recently tasted gems to share; being well stocked on toothpaste is highly recommended.
Santa Rita Secret Reserve Red Blend 2015
Maipo, Chile; $13.49, B.C. Liquor Stores
Killer bargain alert!
While you ignore the cringe-inducing tag line on the back label (“Every mirror keeps secrets, and every glass of SR does too”), pay attention to what’s in the bottle. Or, really, don’t pay attention to what’s in the bottle; it’s certainly not necessary to focus on nuance or character to easily enjoy this wine.
If you are into the detail, however, you’ll note a touch of smokiness in the aromatics, swirling amongst dried sage and oregano, and a brambly forest-floor character.
On the palate, currants, dusty plums, black licorice, and a handful of fresh mint keep things lively, and more savoury than sweet. The value here is incredible.
Suvla Sur 2010
Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey; $42 to $46; private liquor stores
I guess recommending a wine from Turkey coming in at more than 40 bucks may be tempting fate? For those who trust me on this: you shall be rewarded.
This Bordeaux-inspired blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot checks in with aromatics of fruity tobacco along with stewed dates and figs.
The first few sips see sun-dried tomato, roasted red bell pepper, black currants, eucalyptus, and a mild tinge of salinity highlighting all of those delicious things.
Viña Cobos Felino Malbec 2015
Mendoza, Argentina; $21.99; B.C. Liquor Stores
Yeah, yeah, I know: we’re getting tired of Argentine Malbecs. Here’s one that breaks through the mould.
While many a Malbec in this realm can be heavy and exhausting, this one right here is remarkably lively and damn delicious. It has a medium weight, with well-integrated tannins, and the many waves of purple fruit carry an abundance of juicy acidity.
A rich red that’s actually spry; a rare and welcome style.
CedarCreek Platinum Desert Ridge Meritage 2013
Okanagan Valley, B.C.; $42.99; B.C. Liquor Stores
This wine is a Bordeaux-inspired blend of 58 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 22 percent Cabernet Franc, 14 percent Merlot, and six percent Malbec. It’s also 100 percent wonderful.
On the nose are attributes that some may find strange, but amiable at the same time: notes of fresh pencil shavings, graphite, and iron tell us that the Cabernet attributes are on point.
When we take our first few mouthfuls, the red-currant and red-bell-pepper flavours come rushing in, capped by hints of tomato leaf, parsley, and fresh thyme, and they’re all kept in place by some lovely, soft tannins.
CedarCreek Platinum The Last Word 2013
Okanagan Valley, B.C.; $77.99; cedarcreek.bc.ca/
So. We have a wine here from British Columbia that’s almost $80. When we look at other wines from around the world coming in at the same price, does the wine stand up?
First off, let’s be clear that this wine is excellent and an obvious example of CedarCreek reaching for the stars. The quality is evident in the combo of 34 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 32 percent Merlot, 24 percent Cabernet Franc, and 10 percent Malbec. There’s plenty of rich purple and black fruit, licorice, fresh-cracked peppercorn, spearmint, Coronation grape, and more.
It’s incredibly well built, with sticky black fruit all the way through, which makes it so darn amiable. If you decant it, it’ll be even better.
CedarCreek is an incredible producer, offering wines of all styles at a myriad of price points. Some of the stuff on their lower tier finds a place at the front of the pack when it comes to local juice.
Don’t get me wrong: this wine is tremendous, and really hard to come by. If you drop $80 on it, will you be getting one of the best wines in British Columbia? Yeah, you will.
So, on the upside we have in front of us an incredible bottle of wine. Will it impress your international friends who doubt our local juice? Totally. Has the trifecta of blood, sweat, and tears been put into it? Yeah, that seems likely.
Is this wine twice the value of the Meritage mentioned above at almost half the price? I can’t say it is. Perhaps, though, that speaks more to the value of the Meritage than it does of the Last Word.
My key point here is that there is value to be found with the wines of CedarCreek; it’s just up to you how much you’d like to pay for it.