With rainy autumn slamming in, it’s time to seek the comfort of some “big reds.”
Let’s start in the south of Italy, where the often-rustic varietals Negroamaro and Primitivo achieve surprising elegance in the form of Verso Salento Rosso ($22). Rich, spicy and smooth, this polished performer offers flavours of black cherry, plum and chocolate. Supple in the mouth and boasting a silky, lingering finish, this would be a standalone sipping wine, but will go superbly with pork tenderloin or pasta putanesca.
Shifting from Primitivo to its New World offspring, Zinfandel, it’s time to hail Ravenswood’s robust Old Vine bottling from their Lodi vineyards. Big and bold and spicy, this is a well-structured, flavour-rich wine that evokes dark fruits such as plum and raspberry, as well as those wild brambly notes that Zin lovers crave. And underneath the easy-drinking charm there is some complexity and cellaring potential. Although well priced at $26.50 this goes on sale once or twice a year at a remarkable $5 off.
And sticking with California, here’s a new-on-the-scene Cabernet Sauvignon made by Matchbook in the Central Valley. Blended with small amounts of Petit Verdot, Malbec and Petite Syrah, this is a suave and very expressive wine offering aromas of clove and tobacco atop rich flavour notes of black cherry, plum, cassis, and coffee. It has velvety textures and a lovely, long finish – so forget the cellar and drink it now! Available at the Cascadia store on Quadra ($28).
I’ve always loved Cabernet Franc as a standalone varietal and the Okanagan’s Hester Creek makes a beauty. The vines for their Block 3 Reserve are 50 years old and yield a fruit-forward wine of concentration, elegance, and power. Your palate will savour a cascade of raspberry and blackberry notes, lifted with vanilla and spice, alongside a velvety mouthfeel and long finish. This was a big hit at a recent dinner party I took it to. For sale by Liquor Plus ($35).
(All prices include tax.)