Well, it's official! Fall has arrived....and you know what that means? Big bold reds are back! I absolutely love how our palates vary season to season.....the lighter food and hotter temperatures of Summer make our palates crave those crisp, cool whites and juicy reds, with ever so slightly a chill. The peak of Winter, with beautiful stews and creamy pastas, make us salivate for the biggest reds and full, creamy whites. And Fall...oh how I love fall.....when everything is on the table. But those big reds, that we have missed, start to migrate back into our lives. Every Fall, there is always one night that I feel tips the scale for me; The first fire in the fireplace, a cozy sweater has made their way back out, beef bourguignon is simmering on the stove and a beautiful glass of Bordeaux is in my hand. Can you picture it? Can you taste it? The earthiness and structure of the Cab Sauv shining through the stunning fruit flavours of the Merlot. This combination makes the heart skip a beat.
But what about other grapes? What about something a little more off-the-cuff than the traditional big bold reds we tend to gravitate towards? You know the usual suspects: Bordeaux, Rioja, Malbec, Napa Cab Sauv...maybe a Shiraz?
I would love to introduce you to some lesser known players, who are just as perfect for this time of year, and will definitely make it onto your list for the colder months.
Here are three of my top choices for big bold reds that you might not be as familiar with:
Priorat - This Spanish wine, typically made from Garnacha (or Grenache, in France), will easily win your heart. Grenache is one of the base grapes used to make Chateauneuf du Pape in the Southern Rhône, but here, it is the star. Often blended with Cariñena (or in France, Carignan), to add some depth and dark fruit, this wine opens with red fruit, cocoa and a hint of smoke, developing into some darker notes of licorice, tobacco or even fig, as fine tannins dance on your tongue. If you are a fan of the Rhône, this wine is definitely worth exploring.
Ribera del Duero - Staying in Spain, we travel to Ribera del Duero, Rioja's slightly lesser known neighbour. Located South West of Rioja, Ribera del Duero is known for its extreme climate conditions, long hot summers and cold dry winters, due to its elevation (2300-3500ft). Producing mainly Tempranillo, these wines are often more robust than their neighbouring version, bringing forward darker fruit flavours of blackberry, dark cherry and cassis and higher alcohol levelss, while still having the important participation of oak. If you like Rioja, this might be your new favourite wine.
Super Tuscan - One of my all-time faves, these wines developed their nickname in the 70s, when some wine makers in Tuscany decided to abandon the set guidelines for producing Sangiovese, by incorporating non-traditional grapes and creating higher percentage blends. Often using Bordeaux varietals, like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, these delicious Tuscan IGT blends have the traditional flavours of a Sangiovese, red cherry, plum, strawberry, dried flowers and tobacco, while incorporating some deeper, riper notes or blackberry, dark plum, espresso and licorice. If you are a fan of Bordeaux and Chianti, this might be the new wine for you.
Now turn on that jazz, light a fire and pour yourself a glass of something delicious!