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Lush reds for the lushes

 

Red wines can pair well with earthier flavours. (Jessica Emin photo)
Red wines can pair well with earthier flavours. (Jessica Emin photo)

It is best known in Burgundy, France, but the Pinot Noir grape is now grown all over the world. It is a precarious grape to grow and thrives in a climate of hot days and cooler nights. Typically it is a lighter bodied dry red wine with good acidity. Although light, when done correctly, Pinot Noir can develop intense complexity and flavor. Expect red fruit and, if you’re lucky, some earthy notes, too.

If you aren’t much of a red wine drinker but would like to start, a light Pinot Noir is a perfect ‘gateway’ wine. It also pairs well with many foods.

In Moncton a few weeks back I was at a wine bar and a sommelier Stefan St-Pierre, who runs the bar, suggested I try the 2009 Whitehaven Pinot Noir from New Zealand. He gave it a glorious description and said that other wine lovers in town praised it. It can’t disagree. One glass wasn’t enough.

 

Whitehaven 2009 Pinot Noir

Marlbourough, New Zealand $22.00

A pale garnet-coloured wine with soft aromas of mushroom, oak, old attics, cherry and raspberry pie. It was dry and medium-bodied with fresh acidity. Low amounts of round tannin with flavors of raspberry, red pepper, truffle and earth. It was simultaneously light and lively, but also had an aged taste and many layers of complexity.

Eat: Wild mushroom pasta or pizza with light sauce.

Listen: Album – Greetings from Ashbury Park New Jersey by Bruce Springsteen, Song –  “Spirit in the Night”

My rating: 92 points

 

 

Since the release of the hugely popular wino movie Sideways in 2004 it seems that Merlot has had a bad rap. The movie’s main character, played by Paul Giamatti, is a wine snob of sorts and has a hatred for the specific grape. “No, if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am not drinking any fucking Merlot,” he shouts, in one of the movie’s most memorable scenes. It was reported that sales of Merlot have taken years to recover from that cinematic blow.

I tend to think that it is about time Merlot has its time in the spotlight, again. It is best known as the sister to Cabernet Sauvignon in a Bordeaux, but it also stands on its own quite well. Merlot has many similar flavors and aromas to Cabernet Sauvignon, yet it doesn’t have as much tannin. With Merlot you often get full flavour, body and complexity, but without the mouth drying tannin of its bolder ‘sibling’. Enjoy flavors like black cherry, currant, blackberry, cedar and mint from many Merlots. Its velvety juicy character makes it easy love.

 

Org de Rac 2010 Merlot

Swartland, South Africa $17.00

A deep ruby red wine with moderate aromas of raspberry-blackberry jam, a forest floor of pine needles in a trail in fall, and baked cherries.

Medium-bodied with mouth drying tanning, but nicely balanced with juicy flavours of cranberry, raspberry, beets and spice.

A big wine, but easy to drink. Fruit forward.

Eat: My brunch or pork ribs with a sweet style berry chipotle sauce.

Listen to: Album – The Beautiful Wild by Jenn Grant, Song – “The Fighter”

My rating: 82 points

 

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