The Drinks Blogger NI

Six big reds for Winter

by Ciaran Meyler, wine manager

Six big reds for Winter

Six big reds for Winter

At this time of the year when we’re all hibernating, there’s more salt on the roads than there is in a fast food burger and you can’t wait to get home and snuggle up by the fire. It’s a time when people always ask me, what’s a good big red wine to drink?


Number one: Carmen Gran Reserva Petit Sirah; an unusual sounding grape. However, most of you will be familiar with its daddy Syrah. Petit Sirah (aka Durif or Petit Syrah) is the America’s name for Durif, which takes its name from Dr Francois Durif, who created the new grape when he successfully crossed Syrah with Peloursin.
Restricted planting in France means the grape is more popular in California and Australia, with small plantings in Chile. Anyway, what does it taste like Meyler?
It’s a monster, massive depth of colour from the thick black skins, averaging 90 points per vintage, it’s full bodied with an explosion of bold aromas of warm berry pie plus blueberry mixed with vanilla and a light pepper spice to finish.

Number two: Vega Douro Tinto; Portuguese red are all the rage at the moment. Vega emanates from the steep terraced vineyards of the Douro Valley (home to the great Port houses) and is a sturdy red blended from three of the region’s best varieties, Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz. It is rich with plum, cherry and mineral elements and complex with a firm grip of tannins, typical of the region. I like to call it Diet Port.

Number three: Ropiteau Cotes du Rhone Villages; whilst France is not as popular as it once was in the market, it doesn’t mean they still don’t produce excellent wines. What I like about this Cotes Du Rhone Villages is that it over delivers for the price. Grenache is the backbone, 75%, blended with Syrah 25% giving a deep coloured wine with stewed fruit, wild berries and liquorices and spice. Cook a beef stew or mushroom wellington and give this a lash.

Number four:
Dona Paula Estate Malbec, over the past 3-5 years, everyone has been raving about Malbec. We now see Malbec coming from Australia, Chile and many new styles from, its ancestral home, France. However, Argentina has become synonyms with this grape and we just love it. 90 points from Robert Parker On the palate, the fruit takes the lead, with plum, blackberry and licorice. Round and soft tannins, finish off what is a really lovely wine. Great value.

Number five: Chocolate Box (Truffle Chocolate) Cabernet Sauvignon from Rocland Estate in Barossa Valley, one of Australia’s finest Cabernet producing regions, this wine is a big hug in a glass. Ripe blackcurrant is beautifully balanced with subtle vanilla, cassis and minty chocolate to leave a long, rewarding finish. The only thing you need is a big glass.

Number six: Marques de Caceres Reserva Rioja. Arguably one of the best most consistent producers of top class Rioja Marques de Caceres Reserva is without a doubt the best value in the range. The jump in quality from Crianza to Reserva is enormous. Produced only in vintages classed as Very Good or Excellent when Tempranillo is at its expressive best, the Reserva is aged for 22 months in oak and 24 months in bottle. A dense bouquet of toasted aromas, red and black berries, luscious fruits and spices with a rich, layered body of spicy black fruits and succulent red fruits with integrated tannins, fresh acidity. Enjoy over the next six years, if you can resist it, with roast lamb, venison or game birds.
I love a good bottle of red and a nice game bird, boom boom.


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