Big Reds to Warm Up To

hf-natalieHere are some terrific winter warmers in a bottle. Snuggle up and enjoy them with hearty fare.

By Natalie MacLeanhf-natalie2

Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia 2014, Bolgheri, Tuscany DOC, Italy (LCBO #480533, $216.95): A cult Italian wine dubbed one of the Super Tuscans for breaking away from traditional Italian winemaking rules to create blends that eventually became more coveted and expensive than the highest classified wines in the country. Eventually, this winery was granted its very own DOC (a quality assurance label) in recognition of its quality. The 2013 vintage was a spectacular one, and this wine has a long life ahead of it. Aromas of black fruit, smoke, dark spice and pencil led. Sassicaia has had a cult following since 1974, when a six-year-old vintage of the wine beat various coveted Bordeaux wines in a Decanter competition. Produced by Tenuta San Guido, this flagship Italian red wine is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc grapes. Long, elegant finish. Food pairings: Filet mignon, pork tenderloin, pizza, pasta, hard cheese. Alcohol: 14%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2017–2034. Score: 95/100.

Roche De Bellene 1999, Meursault, Burgundy AC, France (LCBO #241091, $114.95): Classic Burgundian Chardonnay with incredible complexity, depth and richness. Green apple and hazelnut-infused smoke. Finishes with caramel, toffee and toasted almond. Food pairings: Pan-fried trout, roast herbed chicken, stuffed roast breast of veal. Alcohol: 12.7%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2017–2018. Score: 91/100.

Silverado Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Napa Valley, Californiahf-natalie3, USA (LCBO #111880 / BC #414854, $61.95): Extremely tannic and young: Needs serious cellar time to integrate and smooth out. Aromas of black fruit, smoke and spice. This winery has been producing wine since 1981 from estate-grown fruit. Decant for two hours and pair with a rare steak. Food pairings: Grilled pork chops, meat kabobs, grilled chicken breast. Alcohol: 14.6%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2019–2024. Score: 90/100.

Inglenook 1882 Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Rutherford, Napa Valley, California, USA (LCBO #412502 / BC #883827, $79.95): Tannic with tart black fruit and loaded with toasty oak. Big, black and brooding. Food pairings: Roast leg of lamb, grilled New York striploin, braised pork shanks, grilled burgers, hard cheese. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2017–2019. Score: 88/100.

Torres Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Penedès DO, Spain (LCBO #129676, $59.95): A savoury, full-bodied Spanish red wine made from the noble Cabernet Sauvignon grape. This wine is a blockbuster with so much dark fruit flavour, complexity and depth. It’s worth twice the price, easily. The 2010 vintage was a strong one and it shows in this glass. Although this is a Bordeaux blend, it’s contained in a traditional Burgundian sloped shoulder bottle. It’s been produced by the Torres family for more than three decades now. Decant for one to two hours. Food pairings: Grilled tenderloin, filet mignon, roast rack of lamb, porterhouse veal chops. Alcohol: 14.5% Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2017–2023. Score: 95/100.

Château Haut Monplaisir Pur Plaisir Malbec 2012, Cahors AC, France (LCBO #499194, $51.95): A monster of a red wine from southern France. Black fruit and toasty oak with a tarry finish. Needs a big slab of steak beside it. Food pairings: Breaded veal cutlets, duck breast with celeriac purée, pomegranate gastrique and Brussels sprout ragout, tagliatelle alla Bolognese, chicken herb-rubbed roast. Alcohol: 14%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2017–2021. Score: 88/100.

Montes Purple Angel 2014, Colchagua Valley, Chile (LCBO #62364 / BC #255547, $59.95): There’s a reason this Chilean wine has a cult following. Purple Angel will make you feel as though you’ve gone to heaven aloft a cloud of sensory pleasure. The 2014 vintage is a blend of 92% Caménère and 8% Petit Verdot grapes. Caménère was re-discovered only about 12 years ago, believed to be extinct after phylloxera hit its ancestral home in Bordeaux in 1880. That’s why it’s also called the “Jurassic Park” grape. The vines for this wine are planted on steep slopes. If you love full-bodied, juicy, fruit-forward wines, this is your apogee, as it also has all of those other great hallmarks of superb wine: Complexity, balance and finish. Food pairings: Veal roast, slow-cooked brisket of beef, rabbit fricassee. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2017–2023. Score: 99/100.

, Veneto DOCG, Italy (LCBO #462812 / BC #504878, $84.95): Complex, rich, deep and long on the finish. A full-bodied, intensely concentrated red wine made using the Appassimento method of drying grapes before fermentation to add intensity of flavohf-natalie4ur, body and alcohol. This towering red wine is also a great cellar wine. Decant for one to two hours before serving with a juicy steak. Food pairings: Pasta with a tomato sauce, roasted venison, beef and veggie stew, leg of lamb. Alcohol: 15.5%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2017–2025. Score: 96/100.

Segla 2010 Margaux, Bordeaux AC, France (LCBO #359810, $69.95): Juicy and mouth-watering with aromas of tart dark fruit. The 2010 vintage was a strong one for Bordeaux, and Segla is a much-respected winery. I expected more depth and richness of fruit from this vintage and producer. However, this is still a solid wine. Food pairings: Game burgers, beef steak, rack of lamb. Alcohol: 13.5%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 ml. Drink: 2017–2020. Score: 90/100.