Five Wines that Pair Perfectly with Winter Weather
When it is cold and grey outside, and the trees are bare and gnarly, sipping on a rich, bold, fleshy wine by a fire, or curled up under a fluffy blanket can feel wonderful. Here are five fantastic wines available at the LCBO right now that will warm you up in every sense of the word!
2019 Seghesio Sonoma County Zinfandel
This is an immediately delicious and thoroughly affable wine made with fruit from over 150 lots spread across Sonoma County. It has a robust nose and palate, redolent of ripe blackcurrant, cherry compote, bramble, vanilla, nutmeg, and fresh pencil shavings.
The wine’s abundant fruit notes, sweet spice flavours, generous alcohol, and satin silk tannins suggest richness, but all of this is balanced adroitly by fresh acidity (also, as ripe, and delectable as this wine sounds, it is dry, with just 3.5 g/L residual sugar). There is depth and intensity in this wine and each sip is followed by a pleasing and lingering finish.
I would drink it now, while its vivid fruit notes are at their peak, but it will keep for a couple of years.
2015 Chateau La Garricq
In this lovely 2015 Cru Bourgeois from Moulis-en-Médoc, fresh violets and ripe blackcurrants and blackberries shine against a tapestry of anise, henna (dried leaves), balsamic vinegar, and musky leather.
Oak use is considered and balanced here (the wine was aged for 12 months in barrel with about 30% in new oak), the lush ripe fruit notes seemingly enrobed in rich dark chocolate, dusted with baking spices.
The wine has sprightly acidity, and crepe silk-like tannins, with considerable depth of flavour, complexity, and a strong, graceful finish. It is a beautifully balanced wine, not only in terms of structure, but also the juxtaposition of vivacious fruit and floral notes, on the one hand, and subtle facets of age, on the other. It can easily be cellared for 5-8 years. If you want to drink it now, decanting, or in my case, vigorous swirling, will help open up some of the aromatics.
This is a striking and enjoyable blend (especially given that it costs under 40$ in Ontario), with 20% Petit Verdot (alongside 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot) spicing things up.
2015 CVNE Viña Real Gran Reserva
This Tempranillo-blend exemplifies the allure of aged Rioja: wisdom and vibrance, coming together in sublime equilibrium. Here, dried red fruit, tobacco, woodsy notes, and a touch of balsamic vinegar are joined by vibrant, ripe red cherries, all of which is lifted by a nice amount of alcohol and lively acidity. Oak influence is balanced and integrated, expressed as vanilla, sandalwood, dill, and nutmeg (the wine is aged in a combination of American and French oak barrels).
There is intensity, nuance, energy, and self-possessed grace in this wine and it has an enduring finish.
It is drinking beautifully now. The tannins are ever so slightly grainy, though; for those who prefer a more polished texture, this wine might improve with a couple of years in the cellar.
In general, Reservas and Grand Reservas from Rioja often reflect a distinctive style. If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend picking up a copy of Ana Fabiano’s informative and beautiful book on Rioja to help you explore and learn more about this iconic wine region. The book has stunning photographs of vineyards and wineries as well: pictured on the top right is CVNE’s Viña Real winery, which produces this wine.
2012 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva
Aromas of ripe and dried red cherries, a hint of balsamic vinegar, the smell of old leather, and a delicate perfume reminiscent of Gulab Attar (rose essential oil produced through a traditional steam distillation process) are woven together in this powerful and elegant Tempranillo-based blend with the texture of satin silk.
The is a classically beautiful Rioja, so nuanced that each sip seems slightly different from the first, like shadows shifting on a wall as the sun traverses the sky. It is equally intense on the palate, with vibrant fruit and a splash of salinity. If you appreciate the allure of American oak expression in wine, this is a wonderful example, with harmoniously integrated notes of spice, dried dill, and Oud.
I think it is beautiful now, poised and embodying the fortitude and complexity that comes with age, and yet impossibly fresh and radiant. For those who enjoy their wine with more development, however, this can easily be cellared for 5-10 more years.
2018 Signorello Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
This beautiful blend may be the most perfect winter wine of all. A delightful example of luxurious winemaking, this Californian Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend (including Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and a touch of Malbec) is all lush, ripe dark fruit, vanilla, and spice, with a hint of brown sugar and fresh violets. These flavours intermingle harmoniously, leaving behind an enduring impression of almost lyrical charm in their wake. What also stands out is the wine’s wonderful texture: with bright acidity and plush tannins, it feels like vintage-velvet.
A glass of this rich wine is perfect for this weather and season for it seems to possess the power to induce warmth and tranquility. I cannot speak to what a second glass might inspire, however 😝
Drink this now or cellar it for ten or more years: there is great structure, intensity, and depth here, and the tannins are likely to resolve further with time.
2018 Cune Blanco Reserva
If you are feeling like a white wine, this is a great choice. It is a euphony of ripe lemons, peaches, and apricots, oak flavours of dill and spice, and fresh mineral notes of wet stones and sea salt. The wine’s structure is equally balanced: supple, soft, and bright, it reminds me of my mother’s vintage chiffon saris.
Made with Viura grapes from vines planted in 1973 at an elevation of 400m above sea level, this Rioja Blanco represents a return to tradition (this style of wine has not been made by CVNE since the 1970s). There is terrific flavour intensity here: the fruit notes are especially delightful. The texture of the wine is pleasing, and the finish is enduring, the finale, a spritz of ripe, golden lemons.
To some, the oak may appear a bit conspicuous. I found some aeration helped the wine become more balanced. A few (2-5) years in the cellar would allow this wine to really shine.
Have you tried a Rioja Blanco? How do you feel about white wines with noticeable oak flavours? Are you open to balanced examples or is it just not your cup of wine?