A couple of delicious weeks back, we sampled some not-so-common white grape varieties from around the world. Hopefully, you were able to expand your palate by trying them. Moving on, there’s more to life than Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Syrah, so this week let’s look at some unique reds. Buy, try, and enjoy.
Many people don’t know it, but the pioneering Gidda family that owns Mt. Boucherie Family Estate Winery in West Kelowna is actually the largest private vineyard owner in all of the Okanagan. They’ve been farming more than 300 acres of grapes since the late 1960s, and until the establishment of their own winery in 2001, they were selling all of their premium fruit to other wineries. The family still sell off the bulk of what they harvest, but they hang on to enough grapes to supply their own family label. We start with two that deserve a closer look.
Mt. Boucherie Family Estate Winery Blaufränkisch 2010
$25, from the winery
They could have called it Lemberger, another name for this varietal that’s popular in Washington state, but they chose to go with the sexier Austrian expression instead. Flavours of dark fruits like blackberries and blueberries abound, balanced with sweet spices and a long, supple finish. What a treat.
Mt. Boucherie Family Estate Winery Zweigelt 2010
$17, from the winery
Interestingly, Zweigelt names Blaufränkisch as one of its parents. The other is a grape called St. Laurent, which I can’t say I’ve ever tasted on its own. Greater than the sum of its parts, Mt. Boucherie’s 2010 Zweigelt offers notes of tangy cherries, violets, and cinnamon. Juicy and refreshing, this is a light and lovely summer red.
Moon Curser Carménère 2012
$38, from the winery
In Chile, the Carménère grape, native to southwestern France, was often mistaken for Merlot, and it’s easy to see why. Moon Curser’s version from Osoyoos shows similar plush and plummy flavours to Merlot, with hints of sweet green pepper and cedar. Impress people by sharing this at your next barbecue party along with Moon Curser’s Arneis (a white), which we recommended two weeks ago. Not cheap, but worth trying with special friends.
Haarth Bonarda 2011
around $24.90, private stores
For most wine lovers in B.C., Malbec is synonymous with Argentine wine, but Bonarda is the country’s second-most-planted red grape. This winery, owned by a family in Maple Ridge, is farmed organically and its wines are now available across our province. Fruity and rich, with ample tannins and balanced acidity, this steak-friendly wine shows notes of cherries, vanilla, cloves, and roasted coffee. A meal in a glass, some might say.
A Mano Negroamaro 2012
around $20.99, private stores
A wonderful expression of this grape sourced from the Salento peninsula (the heel of the boot) in southern Italy. There’s something about the rich, floral earthiness of this grape that I always enjoy. Touches of milk chocolate and raisin in the finish round things out nicely.
Monte del Fra Bardolino 2012
The colourful and fun label mirrors the fragrant and fruity notes within this good-value Italian wine. The Verona-based gem is a blend of mostly Corvina and Rondinella, two grapes that are perhaps more famously used in the production of lighter Valpolicella reds and more robust Amarone wines. But here, the notes are bright and fresh, reminiscent of Christmas cake and raspberry jam. Very appealing and quite versatile.
Layer Cake Primitivo 2011
around $24.99, private stores
The jury’s still out on whether the Primitivo grape is actually Zinfandel, or whether they’re both clones of another grape entirely; regardless, the two are nearly identical. Layer Cake, an Australia-based winery, is sourcing Primitivo from Puglia in southern Italy—the results here are sweet and may be okay for you, but they’re too fruity for me. This wine is rich and chocolatey, not ideal for pairing with food. And I like food with my wine. I’d rather swap it for a Zinfandel from Sonoma or Paso Robles—something rich and savoury, with fruit and alcohol in elegant balance.
Jean-Maurice Raffault Chi-non Rouge 2012
Yes, I know that Chinon isn’t a grape but a region in France’s Loire Valley. This tasty red made from the somewhat unsung Cabernet Franc grape (always a bridesmaid…) tastes of bright red-fruit notes dotted with flavours of lavender and malted milk. The winery suggests serving it slightly chilled—10 minutes in the fridge will do the trick. Serve with fresh cheeses, olives, and some great locally sourced charcuterie.