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waters on wine

After the excess of the holiday season, promotions at wine stores and bottle shops in January typically centre on value picks and selections for obvious reasons. Bargain bottles from Chile and Argentina often benefit from spotlight releases at LCBO outlets and other liquor monopolies to encourage sales.

Whether you’re looking for some red wines to enjoy now or bottles to replenish your inventory for the months or years ahead, here are some options to consider. This week’s 11 recommendations include some stalwart selections from the aforementioned Argentina and Chile, along with enjoyable selections from five other countries. The lineup also includes some cellar-worthy bottles from Napa, the Barossa and one of the original wineries to establish the Naramata wine region in the Okanagan. Poplar Grove’s newly released flagship red blend, Legacy, comes to market with the added lustre of a gold medal from last year’s Decanter World Wine Awards in London, England.

Bodegas Luis Cañas Crianza 2016 (Spain)

Rating:90 /100

PRICE: $19.95

Luis Cañas has produced an appealing red from Rioja that puts the emphasis on ripe cherry and plum fruit with a touch of spice and dried herb notes. Made from mostly tempranillo blended with a small addition of garnacha (grenache) and aged for 12 months in a mix of French and American oak barrels, this is a bright, modern style of red wine that’s easy to appreciate. Drink now to 2024. Available in Ontario.

Château Saint-Sernin Malbec de Calcaire 2014 (France)

Rating:90 /100

PRICE: $19.95

Here’s a truly enjoyable red wine from the Cahors region of France. A blend of mostly malbec with some merlot, from higher-elevation vineyards with the chalky limestone rich soils, this offers appealing fragrance, texture and length. A core of juicy dark fruit gains complexity from some earthy notes. Drink now to 2024. Available in Ontario.

Grant Burge The Holy Trinity Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre 2015 (Australia)

Rating:91 /100

PRICE: $40.99

Holy Trinity takes the name of the Anglican Church in Lyndoch, which Grant Burge’s great-great-grandfather helped establish in 1860, but could also be connected to the trio of grapes used to craft this concentrated and age-worthy red wine. A blend of grenache, shiraz and mourvèdre from older bush vines, this is nicely layered and complex, with satisfying ripe fruit and savoury notes. Drink now to 2026. Available in British Columbia at the above price, $35.25 in Quebec, $46 in Prince Edward Island.

Kaiken Selección Especial Malbec 2018 (Argentina)

Rating:87 /100

PRICE: $15.95

This is a smooth and richly flavoured malbec from Mendoza. Made in a full-bodied style, it has a mix of ripe fruit that are complemented by oak-derived chocolate and spice notes. Drink now to 2022. Available in Ontario at the above price, $15.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $19.99 in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (Chile)

Rating:91 /100

PRICE: $19.95

One of the most consistent Chilean cabernets I know, Montes Alpha can be counted on to deliver ripe cassis fruit with a distinctive herbal and grassy edge. Made in a refreshing and dry style, this is red with serious structure and intensity. Decant for best enjoyment if you’re opening soon. Drink now to 2026. Available in Ontario at the above price, $23.99 in British Columbia and Manitoba, various prices in Alberta, $28.98 in New Brunswick, $30 in Nova Scotia.

Napa Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (United States)

Rating:90 /100

PRICE: $49.95

The Napa Cellars portfolio benefits from the Trinchero family’s extensive vineyard holdings in Napa Valley. Not surprisingly, this appealingly ripe and approachable cabernet commands the most attention. Made for mass appeal, its supple texture and flavourful mix of black cherry and blackberry fruit are rounded out by dark chocolate and tobacco notes. Drink now to 2025. Available in Ontario at the above price, $49.99 in Manitoba.

Palacio Quemado Vendimia Seleccionada 2018 (Spain)

Rating:88 /100

PRICE: $13.95

Palacio Quemado is responsible for this simple and enjoyable red made with tempranillo and grenache grapes grown on an estate in the Extremadura region, near the border of Portugal. Its fresh and vibrant character, with a mix of plummy fruit and spicy accents, makes for an easy to appreciate style. Drink now. Available in Ontario.

Pérez Cruz Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2018 (Chile)

Rating:89 /100

PRICE: $14.95

A family-owned winery that focuses its production on red wines made with grapes grown on estate vineyards located in the foothills of the Andes mountains in the Maipo region, Perez Cruz has earned a solid reputation with this flavourful and enjoyable cabernet. Made in a dry style, with a core of sweet cassis and berry fruit accented by spice and smoky notes, this is a classic model of Chilean cabernet at fair price. Drink now to 2023. Available in Ontario at the above price, $16.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $17.99 in Saskatchewan.

Poplar Grove The Legacy 2016 (Canada)

Rating:91 /100

PRICE: $52.08

Legacy is the flagship red from Poplar Grove, a Penticton, B.C.-based winery controlled by the Holler family. A ripe and fragrant blend of cabernet franc, malbec, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot, this smooth and nicely layered red wine makes the most of its savoury complexity. Notes of dried herbs and sage brush add a distinctive Okanagan accent to this polished wine. Drink now to 2028. Available in British Columbia at the above price, direct through, various prices in Alberta.

Stag’s Hollow Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard Dolcetto 2018 (Canada)

Rating:88 /100

PRICE: $24

Stag’s Hollow’s fresh and tangy dolcetto has quickly become one of my favourite Okanagan wines. Made in a light and juicy style, with an appealing mix of fruity and earthy flavours, this is a really fun dinner companion thanks to its bright acidity and youthful tannins. Serve slightly chilled for best enjoyment. Drink now to 2024. Available in British Columbia and direct through at the above price.

Trapiche Medalla Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (Argentina)

Rating:89 /100

PRICE: $17

Trapiche remains a solid bet for wines made across a range of styles from Mendoza and beyond. This ripe and full-bodied cabernet offers decent concentration and complexity. It’s nicely balanced, with fruit and spice flavours that carry through to a lingering finish. Drink now to 2024. Available in Ontario at the above price, $19.95 in Quebec.

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