It’s likely to be news to many – even the most devout wine lovers – but apparently Aug. 28 is Red Wine Day. The wine-inspired occasion was created in 2013 by American writer and wine lover Jace Shoemaker-Galloway, who saw an opportunity for people to embrace a favourite red or, perhaps, try something different.
When it comes to wine lovers, most don’t need an excuse to enjoy a glass of red wine. Ruby and garnet-coloured wines are often viewed as being more serious and sophisticated than white or pink styles. Speaking from experience based on wine tastings I’ve conducted over the years, students and attendees often sit up straighter and pay more attention to the samples in their glasses when the subject turns to pinot noir, cabernet or any other of the red wine grape varieties, whether popular or offbeat. It makes one wonder where chardonnay and riesling went wrong …
Should anyone need an occasion or added inspiration to enjoy a glass of red wine, be sure to mark your calendar. For those looking to expand their red wine appreciation, this week’s recommendations highlight a range of wines from both classic and more obscure regions, including a perennial favourite from the Chapoutier family’s vineyards in the south of France. These nine selections promise to please your palate whether it’s red wine’s celebration day or not.
Château Peyros Vieilles Vignes Madiran 2016 (France), $23.95
This rich and intense red captures the serious structure and intensity common to the Madiran region of France. Made from tannat and cabernet franc grapes grown in 40- to 50-year-old vineyards, this is a concentrated wine with dark fruit flavours and toasted oak and spice notes that promise to become more complex over time. The style makes it a meat lovers’ red; best enjoyed with a meal. Drink now to 2031. Available in Ontario at the above price, $21.10 in Quebec (2017 vintage).
d’Arenberg The High Trellis Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (Australia), $19.95
Made with cabernet sauvignon grown in vineyards in McLaren Vale in South Australia, the High Trellis shows a nice mix of tart and juicy dark fruit flavours with some spice and menthol notes, which add interest and complexity. Full-bodied and nicely structured, this wine’s spicy and fresh finish suggests it would be best enjoyed with a meal. Drink now to 2027. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta, $22.10 in Quebec.
Duca Di Saragnano Chianti Governo 2019 (Italy), $14.85
A new listing in Ontario, this easy-drinking sangiovese offers simple and sweet cherry and berry fruit flavours with a slight balsamic edge that adds complexity and character. It might not be the most obvious Tuscan red in style, but it’s a solid pizza, pasta or burger wine and decent value. Drink now. Available in Ontario.
Humante Garnacha 2019 (Spain), $8.95
Humante is a lighter style, fruity red from the Navarra region of Spain. It makes the most of the garnacha (grenache) grape’s character, offering fresh and concentrated red fruit and spice notes. It’s a simple and straightforward red that is enjoyable on its own or as a partner for barbecued fare with a sweet or spicy sauce. Drink now. Available in Ontario.
Jean-Pierre Moueix Bordeaux 2016 (France), $17.95
This merlot and cabernet franc was made in Bordeaux’s right bank region, where the Moueix family operates numerous estates in Pomerol and St. Emilion, including Château Trotanoy and Château Bélair-Monange. It’s a dry and classically styled red, with a mix of red fruit, cedar and spice notes, and a touch of toast on the finish. Drink now to 2023. Available in Ontario at the above price, $19.99 in British Columbia, $17.30 in Quebec.
Librandi Duca Sanfelice Ciro Rosso Riserva 2017 (Italy), $17.95
A charming red from Calabria, this is produced from a native grape variety, gaglioppo, which offers abundant cherry and berry fruit aromas and flavours alongside subtle spice and bitter herbal notes. Bright acidity and fine-grained tannins make for a terrific food-friendly red that promises to pair nicely with roast, stewed or barbecued meat dishes. Drink now to 2026. Available in Ontario.
M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2019 (France), $16.70
This appealing red comes from one of southern France’s top family wineries. Produced with grenache and syrah grapes, it was fermented and aged in stainless steel and concrete tanks to build texture while preserving the fruity intensity. The result is an enjoyable wine with a mix of juicy fruit flavours accented by pepper and floral notes. Drink now to 2023. Available in Ontario and Quebec at the above price, $19.99 in British Columbia ($15.99 until Sept. 4), various prices in Alberta, $15.99 in Manitoba, $21.99 in Nova Scotia, $21.68 in Newfoundland.
Santa Carolina Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (Chile), $13.95
Santa Carolina reserve tier is sporting new labels, which will likely draw attention to this well-priced cabernet from Chile’s Colchagua region. Ripe red fruit and meaty aromas stand out, while the flavours suggest ripe berry and cherry fruit with spice, bay leaf and cedar notes. There’s nice concentration and complexity here, with a decent finish. Drink now. Available at the above price in Ontario, $13.99 in British Columbia ($10.99 until Sept. 4), various prices in Alberta, $14.99 in Saskatchewan, $13.99 in Manitoba ($11.99 until Aug. 31), $15.50 in New Brunswick, $16.99 in Prince Edward Island, $15.99 in Newfoundland.
Wakefield Jaraman Shiraz 2019 (Australia), $24.95
The Jaraman label blends shiraz (syrah) grapes grown in McLaren Vale and Clare Valley to make a rich and flavourful red with a lot of Australian personality. McLaren Vale is well known for ripe and luscious red wines, while the Clare shiraz style is typically spicier and more complex. You can see the effect of both regions here, with ripe and intense fruit flavours rounded out by olive tapenade and peppery notes. There are also cedar and vanilla notes that were contributed by aging in oak barrels. Drink now to 2030. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta.
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