Big Bold Reds for Sarah’s birthday! …..with Pi

Get ready to dive head first into fantastic grape varietals and discover what they taste like and how they differ. We are focusing on flavour and geography to help you out the next time you happen to find yourself in a wine store.

Big bold reds at the tasting table! Big and Bold are associated with New World wines.

Starting with Cabernet Sauvignon. A late ripening grape successfully grown in warm climates. Chile and New Zealand’s are generally cooler climates so wines tend to be lighter bodied and noticeably tart. California produces full bodied ripe plummy/mint/eucalyptus and ripe fruit. Minty-ness is a classic Californian characteristic; Dusty minerality in a Bordeaux. Australian Cab Sauv is minty and thicker textured, Margaret River the best Australian region for Cabernet Sauvignon.

Malbec originated as Cot in Cahors France, a region famous for rustic wines. Cuttings taken to Argentina have thrived.  Mendoza’s Malbec, a bright ruby colour; with aromas of dark fruits and bitter chocolate, leather, smoky minerality.

Tonight’s Shiraz is high octane weighing in at 15.9% alcohol. Up there in the fortified range! Look for classic notes of black fruit (mulberries) spice, black pepper, mint and licorice. I expect it to be quite hot due to the alcohol level. Keep in mind whether the winemaker was successful in balancing alcohol, acidity and tannin.

Zinfandel, a mystery until DNA evidence showed it to be identical to Primitivo (Puglia, Italy) and a Croatian grape from where it likely originated. Ripens unevenly and can reach high sugar levels of ripeness in California. 16% alcohol not uncommon, with tonight’s a respectable 14.9%. The wines can be jammy with cloying berry flavours. Sierra hills have ancient vines and accomplished winemakers, and quality is better.

Pinotage is a crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsault and tastes like neither; but has become South Africa’s most characteristic red wine. It is grown no where else in the world. Ready to drink young with flavours of red fruits, chocolate/mocha, burnt rubber and coffee (from the oak)

Our only Old World wine tonight, Portugal’s Vinho Tinto, red table wine; blend of Touriga Franca, 50% ( well structured, deeply  coloured, robust and excellent perfume); Tinto Roriz 30% ( a Portuguese Tempranillo, contributes body, flavour and aroma); Touriga Nacional 20% (best grape known for Port wine, deep coloured: deep purple velvet)  long lived, more than a whiff of port and contributes intense flavour, colour and aroma. Due to cost, rarity, and quality only used for very best wines.

Hand harvested with long maceration in granite vats and secondary malolactic fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Unfiltered (preserves character) I’m of two minds as to whether to decant for the tasting.

Tasting notes: look for ripe strawberries, black fruit, greenness, savory, earthiness, and tobacco leaf.

Let’s enjoy tonight!




Big Bold Reds – Aromatics


Black Berries, Licorice, Black Peppers, Black Currants, Coffee, Chocolate (mint), Star Anise, Nutmeg, Cinnamon





Cabernet Sauvignon – Santa Rita Medalla Real Gran Reserv;  Chile – Maipo Valley

#275594      $17.95      14% alc                  5G/L

Aromas: smoky, toasty, oaky, leathery, meaty, earthy

Flavours: Black fruit: black currant/cassis, blackberry, black cherry, mint, eucalyptus, fruitcake and tobacco

Note: low yields of full-bodied high acid tannic wine, responds oak aging.



Malbec   La Posta Pizzella Family;  Mendoza Argentina

#166298      $16.95      13.5 alc     5 G/L

Ruby coloured with floral aromas and spicy, smoky, leathery and toasty notes.

Flavours: black olive, black pepper, black currant/cassis, violets, black cherry, chocolate, licorice, plum, raspberry, spice and sandlewood



Shiraz  – The formula; South Australia

#142935     $19.95     15.9% alc (no, that’s not a typo)    6 G/L

Full-bodied and smooth style, deep in colour with black fruit and spice aromas

Notes of blackfruit, licorice, eucalyptus, black pepper and mint. Also black currant, coffee, chocolate, fruitcake, plum, rosemary and thyme.

Will not ripen in cool climates, in hot climates Shiraz s earthier, with spice and leather.

Syrah is elegant- smoky bacon

Shiraz – fruitier, fuller bodied with higher alcohol.



Zinfandel   Zin Cigarzin  Cosentino Healdburg, California (old vines)

#269340          $21.95          14.9 % alc        10 G/L

Spicy red fruit with leather, licorice, black berry, spice, mocha/cocoa flavors

Zinfandel is Primitivo (Puglia, Italy) and both hail from Croatia

IMG_7281 IMG_7286

Pinotage – The Grinder; Western Cape, South Africa

#269076    #13.95      14% alc      10 G/L

Meaty, rich, smoky, really tannic. Tasting notes: Berry and dark chocolate/mocha with burnt rubber. Coffee flavour achieved through oak.

Leslie’s pairing with the smoky gouda and the double smoked peppery market sausage was inspired!

It carried the burnt rubber/tar/smokiness to a long, long exquisite finish.

The name originated with South Africa formerly calling Cinsault ‘Hermitage’. In 1925 Cinsault crossed with Pinot Noir (crossed not blended! don’t look for flavour notes of these two varietals).



Quinto Do Roncao –  Vinho Tinto Reserva 2012, Douro DOC

#147942      $14.95     14% alc      9  G/L

Pure Black currant, floral aromas.

Tasting notes: ripe strawberries, plums, tobacco leaf, greenness, earthiness and savory

Touriga Franca 50% – deep colour, well structured

Tinta Roriz  30% -( Tempranillo in Spain) contributes body flavour, finese and aroma. Robust with excellent perfume.

Touriga Nacional 20% -Intense colour, flavour and aroma, most important grape in Port.

Three top varietals used in Port, fermented to dry for table wine; not fortification.






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