By: Stacey Metulynsky
This is my favourite time of year. The snow is gone, everything is greener by the day, and you canâ€™t beat the feeling of that first time you can go outside without a jacket. Yes, spring has sprung, and what better way to toast the promise of even warmer weather to come than with wines from places where the sunshine and warm weather last almost all year through â€¦ well, close enough anyways, when you compare them to our measly little summers!
What can you expect from a wine that has been produced in a warm climate region? Well, warm climates have a longer growing season, and therefore they tend to have more sunshine. Both of these factors mean that the grapes harvested will be riper and juicier than those grown in cooler climates. Now that doesnâ€™t mean that the resulting super-ripe grapes will produce flabby wines. Cool evenings and ocean breezes are just a couple of the climatic factors that can maintain refreshing acidity in grapes as they ripen to juicy perfection.
Many wine producing countries of the world have both warm and cool climate growing regions, including France, New Zealand, and the United States, so when shopping for warm climate wines, keep in mind that often you canâ€™t rely solely on the country where itâ€™s produced. Also remember that in the southern hemisphere (think Australia or New Zealand), the more north you go, the warmer the weather gets. Hereâ€™s a basic guide to warm climate wine regions, including a few Groovy Grapes picks to get you started (all these wines can be found on the LCBO General List).
Australia – probably the first place that comes to mind when you think of warm climate wines, but its wine regions vary from very cool to very hot. Yarra Valley (Victoria), Margaret River (Western Australia), and Tasmania are among the cooler areas while the Hunter Valley in New South Wales and South Australia tend to be warmer. Either way, you can count on Aussie wines to be full-bodied, tasty and ripe – most of them ready to drink right away without cellaring. Some to try:
Peter Lehmann Clancyâ€™s Red
LCBO 611467 | 750 ml | $17.95
A rich blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, with sweet, ripe flavours of black cherry and vanilla, soft tannins and a long oaky finish. A satisfying BBQ wine.
Penmara Five Families Shiraz
LCBO 565929 | 750 ml | $13.15
A big value Shiraz with spicy and jammy fruit flavours, full body, and the slightest hint of minty eucalyptus. A perfect partner for lamb.
Chile – wines from Chile are HOT and what comes to mind first for me is the amazing value they can offer, with the higher end wines often staying under the $20 price point. Look for full bodied reds and crisp, refreshing whites. Some to try:
Concha Y Toro Casillero Del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc
LCBO 578641 | 750 ml | $10.95
A clean, crisp wine with aromas and flavours of tropical and citrus fruit, grassy notes, and zesty acidity. A natural partner for grilled fish or antipasti.
Errazuriz Don Maximiano Cabernet Sauvignon
LCBO 335174 | 750 ml | $18.05
This wine is a knock-out, with a nice balance of earthiness, ripe fruit, and oak aromas and flavours, a smooth mouthfeel, and a long, rich finish. A great spring evening sipper.
South Africa – another gem whose wines, like Chile, are big in flavour and low in price – my favourite combo! The signature grape is Pinotage, but also be sure to try their Shiraz and Chenin Blanc. Some to try:
KWV Chenin Blanc
LCBO 018689 | 750 ml | $7.45
A huge value, with orchard fruit aromas and flavours (think peach, pear, and apple) and pleasant acidity. Very easy drinking, so great as an apÃ©ritif, or with poultry and fish.
LCBO 554360 | 750 ml | $13.15
My favourite South African wine on the General List – an easy party pleaser with everything you want in a Shiraz – ripe cherry and plum fruit with hints of chocolate, smoke, and spice.
Portugal – a country whose wonderful table wines stand in the shadow of the famous fortified Port wine. Though you may not recognize the grape varietals used in Portuguese wines, go ahead and experiment – youâ€™ll find some new favourites. Some to try:
Aveleda Vinho Verde
LCBO 005322 | 750 ml | $8.05
This white wine is light and slightly sweet with fruity flavours and a spritzy finish. A tasty match for spicy cuisine or deep fried seafood.
Pedras Do Monte Castelao
LCBO 565762 | 750 ml | $9.35
One of the hidden treasures of the General List, this is a ripe and tasty red wine, with flavours of plum, cherry, raspberry, black currant, spice, and vanilla. Good with grilled ribs or roasted meats.
Spain – there is so much to explore in the Spanish section of the LCBO, including excellent quality sparkling wines, crisp whites, reds ranging from light and fruity to big and bold, and of course Sherry, be it sweet, dry, or somewhere in between. Some to try:
Segura Viudas â€œAriaâ€ Estate Brut Cava
LCBO 311241 | 750 ml | $16.10
This medium bodied sparkling wine is brimming with aromas and flavours of citrus fruit, green apple, and melon. Itâ€™s crisp, refreshing, and perfect with seafood, salads, or as an apÃ©ritif.
Martinez Candidato Oro
LCBO 523811 | 750 ml | $8.00
The perfect warm weather red wine – pleasantly fruity and spicy, but also light and refreshing, you can even chill this one down a bit to enhance the freshness. This wine is a blend of Grenache and Tempranillo.
Want to learn more? Join as at Social lounge + restaurant on Friday, May 13th for â€œWine & Grillâ€, a tasting of perfect patio whites and red-hot BBQ reds, paired up with sensational grill ideas from Chef Stephen Mitton. Go to our events page to register and read more.
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