Aglianico Cabernet Merlot
Campania | Tuscany | Veneto, Italy
Aglianico, a full-bodied Italian varietal, adds personality to classic Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in a bold crimson blend. With rustic earthy flavours including spicy pepper, leather and tobacco to ripe plum and black fruits, this blend’s fine tannins provide a pleasing and not too astringent finish. The fruit and earth are in harmony creating a beautifully balanced red wine.
Campania, in the southwest Italian peninsula, has volcanic soil, a harsh climate and high altitude. These conditions are ideal for Aglianico grapes, which gain an incredible flavour from stress on the growing vines. The geography of Tuscany is made up of hills and is perhaps the best known wine region in Italy. The range of climate zones from Mediterranean to Continental creates excellent growing conditions for an assortment of fine grapes that line the hillsides. The Alps offer shelter to the vineyards in Veneto, shielding the grapes from potentially harsh conditions that exist north of the mountains.
Pair this blend with intensely flavoured foods. Grilled red meats are a delicious match, as are braised game meats. Roasted mushrooms are a wonderful accompaniment with their earthy flavour. For cheese, sample with Pecorino.
Grenache – Rhone Valley, France
This French varietal has a distinctive combination of fruit and spice in the aroma making for a lively wine. The medium bodied red boasts flavours of red fruit, with hints of anise and tobacco. Fine tannins leave the palate balanced on the finish.
The Rhone Valley begins in the Alps and continues for more than 500 miles along the Rhone River ending at the Mediterranean Sea. Southern Rhone has a Mediterranean climate with warm summers, mild winters and less rainfall than its northern counterpart. Vineyards line both sides of the river and the Mistral wind from the north blows away moisture, brings beautiful sunshine, and cools the landscape in the summers, which is perfect for ripening grapes.
Grenache is a brilliant wine to match with many types of cuisine. Try with grilled, stewed and braised game meats as well as hearty stews. A roasted lamb shoulder with rosemary would be a wonderful pairing.
Viognier Roussanne Marsanne
Northern Rhone & Savoie, France
This enchanting white Rhone blend marries three varietals, Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne into one tantalizing off-dry wine. Peach, pear and honeysuckle in the bouquet make way for hints of spice, pear, tangerine and fresh rose petal on the palate. Crisp and balanced, the finish allows one to fully enjoy the floral and fruit flavours.
Northern Rhone, a smaller part of the larger Rhone Valley region, spans just 40 miles long. To the west, you find Savoie in an alpine location, bordering Switzerland. Both regions host vineyards planted on steep mountains and hillsides, as much as 820 to 1804 feet in elevation. Northern Rhone’s climate varies with warm summers, cold winters and more precipitation than its southern sister. Savoie, despite its location, has a warm microclimate – southern/southeastern sun and close bodies of water help to regulate the cold and provide great fruit growing conditions.
The combination of varietals in this wine makes it quite versatile. Sip it alongside tuna sashimi and California rolls as well as grilled or baked haddock fillets. Grilled pork, veal and chicken are also natural matches.
Two Roads Red
Dry Creek Valley, California (with Grape Skins)
A real powerhouse, this blend has a bold taste and tannic backbone. The addition of Petit Syrah softens the jammy notes that are characteristic of Zinfandel and the Cabernet Sauvignon lends texture. Dark ripe berry aromas blend with smoke and spice elements that lead into flavours of black cherry, vanilla, and black pepper with a lasting finish.
Just south of Sonoma County, with only two roads and over 60 wineries boasting 9,000 acres of vineyards, you will find the rich soils of Dry Creek Valley. The region experiences warm days as the mountains block strong ocean gusts from reaching the vineyards planted throughout the hills. Fog from Sonoma often rolls into the valley in the afternoon, bringing a gentle cooling effect that continues into the evening. This fog slows the ripening process allowing the grapes to develop balanced acidity while still benefiting from the California sun.
The tannins in this wine pair well with richer, more fatty foods – think barbequed meats like densely marbled marinated steaks or braised short ribs. A creamy mushroom stroganoff would also be a beautiful match. When pairing with cheese, consider bold flavours like Parmesan, Peau Rouge and Aged Cheddars.