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WINE NOTES: Vinhâo “one of the most interesting grapes I’ve ever tasted”

Plus wine columnist Robert Moyes reveals a happy finding found in a little “free library”
Columnist Robert Moyes photographed at the Artisan Wine Shop on Broughton Street. (Don Denton photography) Quinta da Lixa Escolha Estate Vinhão 2021 is a red wine to savour this fall. (Courtesy Quinta da Lixa)

Quinta da Lixa is a family-run winery that was founded in 1986 and is located in the Vinho Verde region in the north of Portugal. Although most famous for their whites, they also produce a delightful red wine made from Vinhâo, one of the most interesting grapes I’ve ever tasted. Light and fruity, with high acidity and a tart liveliness, their purple-black Vinhâo should be served chilled – which makes it very refreshing on a hot day. Great with seafood or chicken, this unusual and exciting wine is well worth $19.50.

I literally chanced upon Vintage Ink Whiskey Barrel Aged Red insofar as a bottle of it was generously placed in the little “free library” at the end of my block – and what a pleasant find it proved to be. Hailing from Oliver, this expressive wine brims with flavours of plum, cherry, and blackberry, while the whiskey barrel has added vanilla notes and a bit of sweetness. Smooth, luscious, and full-bodied, this bold wine would be great with smoky ribs, brisket, or pulled pork. I’m happy to pay $20 for my next bottle!

There are a number of tasty yet inexpensive Sauvignon Blancs on the shelves and one of my favourites is the Santa Rita 120 Reserva Especial ($15). Hailing from Chile’s Central Valley, the 120 has freshness, complexity, and lots of juicy charm. Redolent of tropical and citrus fruit and framed with a vibrant acidity, this is patio perfect and a deft dinner companion for herbed chicken or shellfish.

Cabernet Franc, the fourth most widely grown grape in the Okanagan, loves all that heat and is a tasty performer – look no further than the Cab Franc from Bordertown in Osoyoos, which was a recent gold medal winner in the National Wine Align Awards. Intense and spicy aromatics lead to heady notes of cassis, black cherry, and dark chocolate on the palate. Full-flavoured and smooth, and offering an impressively long finish, this steak-friendly wine is fairly priced at $26. (All prices include tax.)

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