What we're drinking this Winter | 5 red wines to look out for
by Abby Jones
I don't mind Winter. It's an excuse to pull back the exercise regime in exchange for hearty food and my beautiful, almost circular Pinot Noir wine glass. It's also a time to delve further into red wines and every season I find myself discovering something new. New grapes, new blends, new regions.
This Winter is no exception. Thanks to our crafty suppliers and producers, we've seen some interesting and unique reds come through our warehouse door, some of which we've never had before. A Bulgarian Mavrud, a Bordeaux Blend from Omaha, a Petit Verdot - the list goes on.
So here's 5 red wines varietals and / or styles we recommend this Winter. All tried and tested by our Wine Central Tasting Panel!
Petit Sirah (grape) is a long time favourite around here and as a single varietal wine not only tastes delish but looks delish. It's a juicy, inky purply red in the glass and is abundant with deep, brooding flavours. Dark berries, ripe plum, chocolate - you get the picture. Petit Sirah also doesn't hold back on the tannins so expect lots of body and lots of grippy goodness. And here's something to note for your next pub quiz: the French name is 'Durif'.
To continue with the 'Petit' theme it's only fitting to talk about Petit Verdot. Historically Petit Verdot has been a minor player in the Bordeaux game but is appearing more and more as a single varietal wine from warmer spots (Aussie, USA etc). It too has big tannins and body but is comparably more aromatic than Petit Sirah with herbal notes, lavender and violet in the mix. Those dark fruits also rear their head and smooth tannins encapsulate it all.
'Bordeaux Blend' has become wine slang for 'a blend that usually has Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc in it' so when we say a New World Bordeaux Blend we don't mean that it half comes from Bordeaux, we're just loosely referring to the grapes in the wine. A proper Bordeaux will made in Bordeaux with grapes that have been approved to go into a Bordeaux.
Anyway! New World Bordeaux Blends are exciting and see winemakers mix and match to create the best blend they can. It takes a lot of tinkering and means the wine will change each year depending on the percentage of each grape used. They're also hard to pigeonhole as they'll vary hugely from juicy fruit-bombs to complex, savoury, mild reds.
Our recommendations are the 2009 and 2010 Twin Totara blends. It's a complex Kiwi Bordeaux Blend that's excellent value for money and has a beautiful bouquet. Twin Totara Wines 6 Pack.
Chianti is a style of wine produced in Chianti, central Tuscany. This concept of a 'style' is strange to us New World dwellers but involves wines being named after the region and not the grape. So if we look at Chianti for example, you won't find a Chianti grape in the bottle (as they don't exist) but instead a whole lot of Sangiovese. Sangiovese is a food-friendly grape that's destined to be enjoyed with Italian food. It usually makes up upwards of 80% of a Chianti and the roasted tomato, balsamic and dried herb flavours are what makes this wine scream out for Spag Bol. It's not an overly bold or tannic wine instead has a zippy line of acidity that will stand up to well seasoned food.
Last but not least is another wine style, Côtes du Rhône, and if we take what we learnt from Chianti, we'll recognise that Côtes du Rhône is a region and not a grape. In Côtes du Rhône a common blend is Grenache, Shiraz and Mourverdre or 'GSM.' Ripe flavours, lots of body and spicy characters are common in a GSM, and these wines are also food-lovers; just like Chianti! We also love them because they're great value. So not only are they blended to perfection, but they also won't break the bank!