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5 of the best: Big winter wines

Winter Reds

We’ve previously written about just how good overlooked whites can be over the frosty winter months. And while that is absolutely correct there is still a place for big brooding reds to guide you through to spring. So with that in mind, we’re pulling on a thick jumper and cooking up some stew to enjoy alongside some of the winter picks you’ll find below.

Once again I’ve asked our wine experts to recommend 5 great red wines to consider stocking this winter. 46% of consumers enjoy trying new styles on a regular basis and a guest wine is a superb way of discovering what your customer’s love, even if they don’t know it themselves yet, all while keeping your range seasonal and topical. Let us know what you think in the comments below and share with us your favourite big reds.

St Hallet Blackwell Shiraz, Barossa

Perhaps Australia’s most famous wine region, the Barossa Valley produces big, rich, boozy Shiraz wines that have come to define the nation’s wine style. These wines, with punchy fruit flavours and usually a high ABV, have gained acclaim from all corners of the world. The power of Shiraz from the Barossa, provided by the burning Australian sunshine, isn’t for everyone, but during these cold months, a glass will keep you warm.

From winemaker Stuart Blackwell, who has been making wine at St Hallett for over twenty years, this big Shiraz shows powerful aromas of blackberry, cocoa and nutmeg. The palate is opulent and full-bodied with black forest gateau flavours and an intense long finish. This wine is the result of a meticulous process. The grapes are sourced from vineyards planted in the northwest of the Barossa Valley at relatively high, elevations between 250 metres and 310 metres above sea level. Each individual parcel is fashioned separately, employing years of accumulated knowledge of these vineyards and their individual characters, before the resulting wines are finally blended together to produce a wine befitting of a winery with such an iconic status and a worldwide reputation for Shiraz.

Barolo, Enrico Serafino

Unlike many old world grapes Nebbiolo, the grape behind Barolo, has resisted successful plantings on other continents. It’s a tricky grape to grow even in its natural home in north-west Italy. For the growers and winemakers in the tiny Barolo region, the trails and tribulations are worth it for this delicious grape. It’s a great wine to enjoy with rich, warming foods.

This pick of our Nebbiolo wines produced by Barolo producer Enrico Serafino undergoes a long maceration, aged for three years, two in large oak barrels. The result has an intensely elegant nose, with red fruit and spicy notes of liquorice and vanilla; the palate is austere with smooth tannins and a freshness to the finish. Beautiful.

Vistalba Corte A, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza

From its home in France, where it is also called Auxerrois or Cot Noir, Malbec has become the ‘national variety’ of Argentina. It was first planted in Argentina in 1868 and plantings have grown to surpass those in France. 75% of plantings in the world are now located in Argentina compared to just 15% in France. The juicy, spicy and deeply coloured Malbec forms the backbone of this impressive Mendoza wine from Vistalba.

The estate’s vineyards are about 980 metres above sea level and lie in the Luján de Cuyo region surrounding the city of Mendoza. Grapes are manually harvested with the 79% Malbec, 15% Bonarda and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon fermented separately before an 18-month maturation in French oak barrels. Vistalba Corte A, the resulting wine, shows complex aromas of dark chocolate, prune and tobacco; the palate develops a sweet, ripe fruit theme, followed by notes of chocolate and spice.

XYZin Zinfandel, California

Thriving in California’s warm climate, Zinfandel has staked its claim to producing some of the world’s best red wines. It wasn’t always thought so well of however, in the earlier days of the Californian wine industry it was thought incapable of producing a fine wine. In recent years the old Zinfandel vines, carefully pruned and managed have been embraced for the production of full-bodied reds, White Zinfandel however still accounts for 85% of Zin production in the state.

Sonoma is one of the best-recognised homes of Zinfandel grapes. Geyser Peak winery, the people behind XYZin source from some incredible sites across the regions of Dry Creek, Russian River and Alexander Valleys. Hilltop and benchland sites in these appellations contribute elegant spice, jammy berry fruit and rich tannin. Lake County vineyards enjoy very warm afternoons and bring bright red fruit character to the wine including cherry and strawberry notes. Solano brings a signature pepper spice along with fruit flavours of French plum, boysenberry and blueberry.

The wine is unoaked and made to enhance the dark brooding character that the grape can exhibit if harvested fully ripe. The resulting wine is perfect for the season, rich and full of bright acidity and fresh fruit notes. A creamy caramel roundness emphasizes the spicy backnotes and the juicy fruit finishes with a touch of pepper.

Les Hipsters Barbe, Côtes du Bourg

This playfully packaged wine is filled with Melot grown in its homeland of Bordeaux. Here, the grape is arguably at its finest, luscious, plummy and velvety. The wine is a blend of 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Malbec, grown on vineyards that have existed since the 14th century covering 66 acres in Côtes de Bourg. The soil here is chalky-clay and limestone-rich affording the Merlot planted here greater water retention allowing optimum maturity.

Overlooking the Gironde estuary which cuts through the local area, there are far worse places to make wine. François Clauzel, the winemaker at the estate slowly ferments the wine before ageing it in French oak for a year. An intense wine, like a big thick beard it will keep you warm all winter long. Les Hipsters Barbe shows aromas of ripe dark fruit with notes of broom flowers, coconut and brioche while the palate develops savoury blackcurrant flavours.

You can find more information about the wines we stock here. If you want to stock any of the wines mentioned, click here to place an order online now, or here to request an account with us; and don’t forget we’re here to support you with everything you need to ensure that your wine range is a success, from free menu design and print services to staff training.

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