Not everyone likes to drink whites or pinks in the summer sipping season; reds come into play on many a patio. There are the obvious light choices, like Pinot Noir, which will happily handle a half-hour in the fridge before serving, or even an ice cube in the glass, and there are many big, bold reds that delight with their robustness, ice cube or no. Here’s a roundup of recently received reds that have pleasured the palate of late.
Among the new-release season’s most anticipated varietals—at least at my house—are the always fascinating new vintages from Osoyoos-based Moon Curser Winery, and their border-hugging southern vineyards. While there are always delicious whites and sometimes pinks, it’s the big reds that really provide the taste-bud surprise. Like the one below:
Moon Curser Touriga Nacional 2011 ($38 at the winery; 60 cases only)
If you think you haven’t tasted Touriga Nacional before—you probably have! It’s the preeminent variety for producing port, with the best vintage ports solidly based on this grape. To the best of my knowledge, no other B.C. winery makes it, varietally. Yes, it’s costly; yes, there’s very little of it; and yes, it’s a real treat. Massive, luscious, and deep, full-bodied and intense, but with surprising softness in the long, lingering finish. Lots of chocolate (which it accompanies perfectly) with black cherry and a little licorice. Last time I looked, there was still some available from the winery, but I can’t imagine it will be there for long, so get on it, if you’re looking for a most unusual B.C. red. Makes a fine gift for the local wine lover who (thinks he or she) has everything.
Terra Australis Shiraz 2012 ($10.95, specialty)
It’s not Skulls, but much more subtle and stylish—cheaper, too. Quite soft and mellow, definitely one that would welcome an ice cube. The producers recommend it with beef steak and golden vegetables. The one below, although harder to find in the system, is an even better buy.
Terra Australis Cabernet-Merlot 2012 ($9.95, speculative)
Plenty of plum and blackberry for the palate, with nice, restrained spice. Just the ticket with grilled lamb and seasonal vegetables. Delicious and well worth searching for.
Nk’Mip Vineyards Talon 2010 ($22.99)
A hearty new blend (Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec), very big and rich. Made “in the indomitable spirit of the Thunderbird”, and they’re not talking about the old California plonk! The Cab Franc really shows through, big and bold.
Mount Rozier Myrtle Grove Cabernet Sauvignon n/v ($14.99)
This newcomer from South Africa is a good-value summertime dinner red. Curious flower-stem astringency in the nose, with lots of herbaceousness, but an agreeable and mellow finish. Another one that’s not afraid to entertain an ice cube.
MASI Campofiorin 2009 ($19.99)
A long-time favourite with B.C. buyers, this wine is made in the appassimento manner (from dried grapes), for greater concentration of flavours. Rich, soft, and supple, it’s the one for all your serious Italian dinners, plus pizza. Pizzerias, put it on your lists, please, if you don’t already have it. A great wine with Alberto Lemmo’s saged chicken livers at Zefferelli’s Spaghetti Joint on Robson.
Saxenburg Private Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($32.99, specialty)
One of the costlier of the South Africans (and featured in the current South African wine “thematic” at B.C. Liquor Stores), this lush, deep red has been a personal favourite for many years, certainly as long as it’s been in our market. Rich and unctuous, with just a hint of smokiness, a lovely and deep wine that may well be the best South African for the price. It’s definitely a special-occasion, guests-coming-for-Sunday-dinner wine. Time to treat yourself.
Jackson-Triggs Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz/Viognier Grand Reserve 2010 ($29.99, specialty)
An interesting blend: the Shiraz and Viognier are cofermented, then blended with the Cab-Sauv, then put away in French and American oak for 18 months to mellow. Big flavours, big finish, big treat.
Hillside Estate Merlot-Cabernet Franc 2010 ($22.99 at the winery)
The label calls for “bright cranberry aromas”, which I didn’t find; I get black plums and licorice. Very dark and heady, superb ripe fruit (whatever it may be!), and a lip-smacking finish amid all that licorice. Well worth a jaunt to the winery’s home in Naramata, to get next to some.
Les Vins Bonhomme El Petit Bonhomme Red Cuvee 2012 ($14.99, specialty)
Another successful blend: mostly Monastrell, then Garnacha with a smidge of Syrah. It starts with a gentle sweetness at the front of the tongue, then acquits itself all mellow, round, and super-smooth. One of the best buys in town, from Spain or anywhere else.
Pablo Old Vine Garnacha n/v ($13.99, specialty)
And speaking, however peripherally, of Garnacha, be sure to try this recent arrival. A great-value treat, delicious and with no harsh edges; soft and pillowy. The wine is produced from 100-year-old vines.
Peter Lehmann Portrait Shiraz 2010 ($22.99)
This is a typical Aussie Shiraz—deep and full and fairly alcoholic (at 14.5 percent). A rich, dark chocolate wine—which dessert it would match perfectly, along with lots of comfort food like a hearty casserole, homemade steak-and-kidney pie, or a slab o’ cheddar. Available right across Western Canada.
A sad note concerns the fact the iconic Aussie wine man is no more: word has recently reached me of Peter Lehmann’s death. His name and label and legacy will long live on in the annals of the world of wine.