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  • Writer's pictureTania Thomas


It’s that time of the year again. The air is crisp and the colourful leaves have fallen.

The mercury is dropping, fogs are rolling into town and a welcoming sent of wood-burning fire is everywhere. Time to cocoon, curl on a couch in front of the fireplace and enjoy some fleshy, big, bold and beautiful winter warming reds with perfectly balanced fruit, tannins, and alcohol. The kind of wines perfect for fireside conversation and comforting, slow-cooked meals with friends and family.

“The wines that stand up to hearty winter fare and warm the bones on the coldest of evenings.”

They are certainly not all created equal, and that’s a great thing. Although all full-bodied, robust and structured, some display more fruit, some more earthy notes or pronounced belly warming spice. The perfect choice is a big bold Cab, Syrah/Shiraz, Malbec, Rioja, Nebiolo, Valpolicella, and fruity Zinfandel.

Here is a selection of some great winter warming reds from our own backyard and around the world. Enjoy and stay warm! Cheers!!

This iconic Niagara red blend comes in a cool commemorative bottle in a celebration of its 25th vintage. Vinified with 55% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes following 12 months of oak barrel aging. Full in body with grippy tannins. Lovely depth of aromas and flavours with layers of ripe dark fruit, mocha and smoke, leading to a long, lingering cedar-toned finish. A given as a pairing with hearty winter fare, from slow roasted beef to juicy lamb and pork chops. Drink now through 2024.

Vinified with the hand-picked corvina, rondinella and molinara grapes grown on the foothills of the Valpolicella Classico zone, just north of the city of Verona, in an ancient Veronese tradition of “ripasso”, by adding the unpressed skins of Amarone to impart extra flavour, alcohol and tannin. Dry and full-bodied, this is a rich red with an intense aromas and flavours of ripe black cherries, blackberries and raisins with a touch of vanilla on a long, lingering finish. Well balanced and complex with smooth tannins. Perfect match for slow cooking roasts and mature cheeses.

Wow, this is Barossa at its very best! Stonewell Shiraz is the best wine of each vintage vinified with fruit from the Stonewell vineyards, one of the best Shiraz sites in the world. Fleshy, powerful and masculine with great complexity, tons of ripe black fruit and plenty of weight, leading to a chewy, cedar-toned finish. It makes a great companion with rare meats and mature cheeses. LCBO# 724625, $80.00.

From California’s cooler area of the Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County comes this juicy blend of 90% Syrah, 6% Grenache, 4% Mourvèdre. Bursting with big, ripe dark fruit, black tea and exotic spice with beautifully integrated oak. Complex, rich and juicy, closes in a smoke-tinged, lingering finish. Would benefit from laying down for 3-5 years. Perfectly matched with roasts, charcuterie and mature cheeses. LCBO# 948240, $19.95.

This juicy, fruit-forward Lodi Zin is full in body with smooth and velvety mouthfeel. Crafted at Cline Cellars, the largest solar-powered California winery. Fleshy, generous and intense, it’s bursting with ripe black cherries and raspberries a touch of spice and a long, lingering vanilla & chocolate-hued finish. It will further develop over the next few years. Fantastic with grilled meats, a perfect crowd-pleasing BBQ wine. LCBO# 985176, $37.95.

From steep limestone cliffs at the Cave Spring Niagara Vineyard comes this full-bodied, intense 100% Cabernet Franc. Vinified in a traditional Veronese appassimento method were portion of the grapes were air-dried for several weeks to naturally concentrate the flavours within and once pressed their juices enrich the final blend. It displays great complexity and refinement with a ton of dark fruit, cassis, ripe black cherries and plums with smoky overtones. Smooth tannins, plenty of weight and well balanced acidity, closes in a lingering cedar-box-tinged finish. Fantastic with roasts and grilled steak.

From the hills of Veneto, comes this mighty Valpolicella Ripasso. Vinified with 85% Corvina, 10% Rondinella and 5% Oseleta grapes “re-passed” after pressing the dried grapes that makes Amarone. The wine undergoes a second fermentation that increases alcohol and imparts more body, tannins and flavour which makes for richer wine, both in colour and bouquet. This is a powerful and intense wine, bursting with aromas and flavours of ripe black cherries, fig jam, raisins and chocolate with a long, lingering vanilla-tinged finish. Fantastic with rich game dishes and winter roasts. VINTAGES: 479766, $ 25.95


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