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waters on wine

Joel and Sarah Gott launched their wine brand in 1998 with a Zinfandel before expanding their value-oriented range to include a sauvignon blanc and cabernet that the couple called the 815 Cabernet Sauvignon to commemorate the birthday of their daughter, Lucy, in 2003.

Today, the Joel Gott portfolio features more than a dozen labels, including a Santa Barbara Pinot Noir and Washington Gruner Veltliner. Gott continues to play an active role as one-third of the Three Thieves team, which is behind The Show and Bandit brands, and, last week, the company purchased the Edge Hill Estate in St. Helena in California’s Napa Valley, which includes a six-acre vineyard and restored stone winery built in 1867.

The couple prefer to work with grapes from various vineyards in multiple regions instead of a single estate. It ensures they have an inventory of wines made to a consistent style for an affordable price.

The new 2019 815 Cabernet Sauvignon is 100-per-cent cabernet sauvignon, with fruit coming from Napa and Sonoma as well as Mendocino, Lake County, Lodi, Paso Robles, Santa Ynez and Monterey. It is one of the red wines recommended this week to help ward off the chill of deep-winter.

Borsao Tinto Garnacha 2020 (Spain), $12.25

Rating:88 /100

A consistently reliable value red, this blend of mainly garnacha (grenache) with tempranillo and cabernet sauvignon makes the most of its bright and juicy style. A pleasant mix of ripe plums and cherries with sweet spices and vanilla makes this enjoyable, but not especially long or complex. Available in Ontario and Quebec at the above price, $14.99 in British Columbia, $13.99 in New Brunswick.

Cannonball Merlot 2019 (United States), $22.95

Rating:88 /100

Made in a crowd-pleasing style, this smooth red wine offers generous berry and plum notes with obvious oak-derived vanilla and chocolate notes. The plush texture and intensity of flavour add to the commercial appeal. Drink now-2025. Available at the above price in Ontario, various prices in Alberta.

Cave Spring Estate Cabernet Franc 2019 (Canada), $37.95

Rating:90 /100

Savoury and structured, this refreshing red has attractive balance and makes a virtue of cabernet franc’s herbal character without any under-ripeness. The mix of bright berry, cassis and plum flavours gains interest from pepper, spice and herbal notes. Decant for best enjoyment. Drink now-2030. Available direct through, various prices in Alberta.

Chateau Buena Vista Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (United States), $59.95

Rating:91 /100

Located in Sonoma County, Buena Vista winery was founded in 1857 and is now owned by the Boisset family, which operates a growing number of estates in its native Burgundy and California. This polished and concentrated cabernet sauvignon is made with grapes grown in Napa Valley. The style is rich and flavourful, offering layers of fruit, spice and earthy notes, with serious structure and a lingering finish. Fans of bold reds should appreciate this style. Drink now-2028. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta.

Copain Tous Ensemble Syrah 2016 (United States), $39.95

Rating:91 /100

Part of the Jackson Family Wines stable, Copain was launched to produce expressive and food-friendly wines made from chardonnay, pinot noir and chardonnay. Tous Ensemble is the winery’s entry level label. This full-bodied and smooth expression of syrah showcases a ripe core of fruit with savoury and spicy notes that really appeal. Drink now-2026. Available in Ontario at the above price through, various prices in Alberta.

Culmina Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (Canada), $35.95

Rating:90 /100

Produced from vines planted in 2009, this full-bodied and savoury cabernet from the Okanagan is hitting its stride. The core of ripe fruit is balanced by fragrant herbal, cedar and toast notes, which help to convey a real sense of the cabernet grape. A red with structure and intensity, drink now to 2026. Available at the above price in Ontario through, $39 direct through, various prices in Alberta.

Decoy Limited Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (United States), $49.95

Rating:90 /100

Decoy is a part of the Duckhorn portfolio and comes billed as “everyday wine for the well-informed.” Its price especially in Canadian dollars isn’t every day for many wine lovers, but this Napa Valley red blend is one of the top wines of the range. Made with grapes grown at estate vineyards and purchased from growers, the 2018 is a blend of merlot, zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon and tempranillo. A ripe and savoury red with a smooth texture and sense of balance, this is medium weight and easy to appreciate. Drink now-2024. Available in Ontario.

Dona Paula Los Cardos Malbec 2019 (Argentina), $11.95

Rating:87 /100

This well-priced red wine is made in fresh and approachable style, with juicy fruit and subtle spice notes. It is simple, enjoyable and ready to drink. Available in Ontario at the above price, $12.99 in British Columbia ($8.99 until Jan. 29, 2022), various prices in Alberta, $15.49 in Saskatchewan, $16 in Nova Scotia, $15.99 in Newfoundland.

Frances Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Red Blend 2019 (United States), $28.95

Rating:88 /100

This smooth and pleasing red blend features a surprising amount of petit verdot, a variety that’s typically used sparingly to contribute tannin, colour and fragrance to a wine. But when the grapes are ripe, there is also a sweet fruit component to balance tannin and fresh acidity. The blend also includes cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel and other grapes that contribute to a flavourful and dry red wine that offers concentrated cherry and berry flavours rounded out by oak-derived vanilla and spice notes. Drink now-2024. Available in Ontario at the above price, $26.99 in Manitoba, $25.20 in Quebec (2018 vintage).

Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (United States)

Rating:88 /100

An approachable multi-regional blend of cabernet sauvignon from more than 60 vineyards spread across California, the 815 Cabernet suggests layers of ripe dark fruit, clove and vanilla. On the palate, smoky oak and sweet fruit flavours stand out, with olive, mint and earthy flavours adding complexity to the lingering finish. Drink now to 2024. Available in Ontario at the above price ($22.95 until Jan. 30, 2022), various prices in Alberta, $29.49 in Saskatchewan, $24.95 in Quebec, $31.99 in New Brunswick, $30.99 in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, $31.97 in Newfoundland.

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