• Shelley Boettcher

Red wines for winter

I like a good red wine in the winter but my RRSP deadline is looming, and then it's tax season...So I'm on a bit of a budget, too, searching for wines that cost less than $20-$30 that deliver great value and good quality. Here are five of my current favourites:

Francis Coppola Diamond Collection 2015 Black Label Claret

(California, USA)

A hefty weight and a fancy wire mesh around this bottle lead you to believe it will be very expensive. Those lush red berry and plum flavours. The smooth-as-silk tannins, fine spicy aromas and long finish. Great balance, too. One to seek out now, and definitely one of the better California reds I’ve had at this price in a long time.

Francis Ford Coppola, of course, is the filmmaker-turned-winemaker, and this red blend is modeled after Bordeaux’s Medoc wines. Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, it also contains some Merlot, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot. About $28.

Dirty Laundry Vineyard 2015 Kay-Syrah

(Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada)

The name is cute, but this wine delivers, too. This savoury, sexy red shows exactly why Okanagan Syrahs are awesome. Peppery, spicy, meaty, herbal flavours and aromas, with a long finish and good balance.

We enjoyed the rest of the bottle with slow-roasted lamb, and it was fantastic. Turns out Dirty Laundry won an award for the current vintage of this Syrah, too; the 2015 won gold at the Pacific Rim Wine Awards last year. About $25.

Hester Creek Estate Winery, 2016 Selected Barrels Merlot

(Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada)

I’ve always loved stopping to eat at Hester Creek Estate Winery’s beautiful on-site winery (good food, Tuscan-inspired space) but the wines are also wonderful, and they just keep getting better.

This gorgeous Merlot just sings in the glass, with plummy, chocolatey, baking spice flavours and aromas. Pair with steak, if you’re grilling, but it’ll do just fine with venison or lamb, too. And at this price, it’s one to buy by the case. About $20.

Bodegas Montecillo 2010 Crianza Tempranillo

(Rioja, Spain)

I’m busy. I can’t always drive all over the city in search of a great bottle of wine. That’s why it’s nice to know a few reliable reds that are widely available — and that includes anything from Bodegas Montecillo, where wine has been made for more than 140 years.

This Tempranillo spent a year in oak before being bottled, just long enough to smooth out the edges and give delicious spicy flavours, but not long enough to flatten the dark fruit flavours or make it taste dusty and old. Enjoy with grilled meats. About $16.

JoieFarm 2015 Pinot Noir

(Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada)

I’ve been a big fan of JoieFarm wines for years, and the latest vintage of the winery’s Pinot Noir just upholds my opinion: Heidi Noble and her team know what they’re doing.

There's the dark cherry and raspberry notes. The hints of licorice and allspice. The silky tannins and the bright acidity and the balance. Don’t miss the chance to try this vintage. About $26.

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