Warm up for spring with these lush red wines…

Raising a glass of late-winter cheer, this week Times Drinks editor James Viner beats the chilly temperatures with rich, ripe and comforting Australian, Chilean and Portuguese red wines and a special New Zealand white prepared by a wine master.

Although spring is (just) here in the meteorological sense, the days are nevertheless still quite short and invariably cool. So what to drink with substantial winter dishes? Winter is a season that calls for big, bold wines that have the wherewithal to handle nutritious, meaty stovetop stews, baked casseroles, and roasted red meats.

Grab a tumbler and comfort yourself with these stellar, full-bodied late winter vinous warmers. All three reds are perfect for umami-soaked dishes, slow braises, hearty stews, and fireside sips.

Meanwhile, a judiciously oaked premium Kiwi Chardonnay – the supreme white varietal of Chameleon – is just the ticket to roasted white meats, seafood and a creamy chowder of corn, chicken and bacon. Bravo to these cold comforts…

1) Juicy Port Country Red
2017 Vila Real RabeloDouro, Portugal; Cooperative£6 (13.5%)

Elegant and floral red table wines from the Douro Valley in northeastern Portugal, the first demarcated and controlled wine region on the planet (1756), at the top of the eponymous waterway – and the home of Porto – make wonderful pairings with long-braised beef, lamb and pork dishes.

This supple, svelte mid-week example is a cheap blend of 40% Touriga Nacional (Port’s most famous and famous grape) and 30% Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and widely planted Touriga Franca.

A welcome addition to the late winter table, it has masses of red and forest fruit richness with floral/herbal weight, spice and a juicy bramble finish; Venison and juniper cassolette, rustic red meat stews (hello beef stew), goulash and roast duck will love it.

Cleverly, the cork on this bottle doesn’t require a corkscrew to remove. It’s extremely gluggable and a great value.

2) A detailed and intensely flavorful rendition of Carmenère, arguably Chile’s signature red grape variety
2019 Viña Errazuriz, Max CarmenèreAconcagua, Chile; Tesco£12 (13.5%)

Requiring hot, warm sites, late-ripening Carmenère is an old red/black Bordeaux grape that now (finally and lately picked at the right time, about 4-5 weeks after Merlot) produces rich, deeply colored reds in Chile. .

Founded in 1870 about 100 km north of the capital, Viña Errazuriz is located in the picturesque Aconcagua Valley, which stretches from the Andes – the region is named for the highest peak in the latter at around 7,000 m – to the Pacific Ocean and has a Mediterranean climate.

The 2019 season was dry and hot with low rainfall at the start, producing superb quality fruit. This exceptional Carmenère is vegan approved and an absolute blinder. Its chocolaty oak, herbs, coffee beans, roasted red peppers, cherries and dark fruits are delectable. The relatively modest alcohol has largely contributed to this. Everything flows appetizingly on the tongue; pure, brilliant and vinous delicacy. It is perfect with long braised beef.

3) Bring me some sunshine! Exceptional and super elegant South Australian red blend with a famous Austrian wine connection
2016 Salomon Estate, Dark Pearl Cabernet SFMFinniss River, in southern Fleurieu, Australia; Leah & Sandeman£20.95 in a case of 12 (14.5%)

This Australian red is a magnificent, skilful, ripe and unctuous blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (90%), Cabernet Franc (5%) and Merlot (5%) that smolders on a core of melted black and red fruits – cassis, cherry and plum – all pinned with varietal mint and herbs, plus a touch of foliage and a suggestion of earthy mushrooms.

Aged for 18 months in French barrels (mostly used), it is long, supple, detailed and very persistent, proving the versatility of the blend.

Opt for the slow-roasted lamb, the venison and juniper casserole, the classic roast leg of lamb with rosemary and anchovies or the rabbit with thyme and juniper. Downright delicious, brimming with flavor, fresh and bright with expertly balanced tannins and oak, it warmly suggests a second glass should be savored now.

4) Premium oak-aged chardonnay made by New Zealand’s premier Master of Wine
2020 Kumeu River, Chardonnay EstateAuckland, New Zealand; The wine company£20 (13.5%)

Don’t pour lean white wines in the throes of late winter and think they’ll come through with a big price tag. Instead, try bottles with well-judged oak, like a versatile chardonnay.

A satisfying and complex example from one of New Zealand’s finest wine producers, this still-young benchmark Chardonnay is crafted by Michael Brajkovitch – New Zealand’s first Master of Wine (in 1989) – and has layers of apple, grapefruit, spice, peach and nectarine, along with toasted nuts and smoke. It tastes like fine wine to me. A Kiwi classic. Treat yourself.

Bring in the guinea fowl/roast chicken, creamy sweet corn, chicken and bacon chowder, monkfish, scallops, and seafood risotto/pasta. One to seek out and another candidate for your busy carafe. Incredible quality. The development of the bottle will be fascinating.

5) Finally say congratulations to this year’s final Fair trade fortnight with this brilliant bargain South African Sauvignon Blanc
2021 The Weather Man Sauvignon Blanc, Western Cape, South Africa; Cooperative£6.50 up to £5.50 until March 15 (12.5%)

Fairtrade Fortnight 2022 is the annual campaign to promote high quality products, produced and traded ethically and ends tomorrow (Sunday March 6).

Survive the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc shortage with crisp, aromatic versions from South Africa (SA), a country with top-notch sustainability credentials. Claiming an industry first as part of its commitment to Fairtrade – it is already the world’s largest retailer of Fairtrade wines (and the very first supermarket to list Fairtrade wine, in 2005, now selling around 14, 5 million liters per year) with 57 lines, 45 of which hail from SA – the cooperative has switched to 100% Fairtrade SA wine for the entire range of own-brand and branded wines.

This discounted bottle is a particularly inexpensive, vibrant, ripe yet zesty Sauvignon Blanc with notes of passion fruit, gooseberry nuts, sugar, lime and blackcurrant leaf, as well as hints of apples. yellow. One for tomato salads, sushi and seafood.

A simple wine but drinking it (in good conscience) is pure pleasure. Buy it on offer.

You can find more information about the Fairtrade Fortnight at fairtrade.org.ukFollow Jack on Twitter: @QuixoticWine


A ‘Rabelo’ is a traditional, narrow, shallow-bottomed Portuguese cargo ship historically used to transport port barrels from the upper Douro Valley to the wine cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia (linked to Porto, across the river, by six bridges), where most of the port pavilions are located. Currently, the boats (“barcos”) are used as tourist cruises that navigate the Douro River.

Photos: Couple © Chernetskaya, Sunflower © Irochka, Daffodils © Anatoliy Mandrichenko, Apples © Steveheap, Fields © Jakub Gojda/dreamstime.com; Rabelo © Thomas Istvan Seibel/wikimedia.org

Comments are closed.