FOOD AND DRINK
Bottle Shop: Five Big Reds for Seasonal Splurging
Bold, impressive, rich – and those are just the prices on these cellar- and holiday-worthy wines
It’s that time of year to crack open your wallet and throw down some bills on the good stuff. Whether you want to give the gift of vino, beef up your cellar or go big and splashy at the holiday dinner, here are five splurge-worthy reds. Note that most of them aren’t at peak readiness to drink now, but will require some additional aging in a cellar. (Ontario prices given, with links to LCBO store listings.)
Antinori Badia a Passignano Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2010
Gran Selezione is a new premium category of Chianti Classico, requiring the wine to be aged a total of 30 months before release. This pushes the price tag into Brunello territory, and in some cases, like this one, it’s actually worth it. From the venerable house of Antinori, this 100% Sangiovese offers up a bouquet of cherries, violets, leather and an earthy Tuscan musk (a good thing). It’s a complex, harmonious red, and noticeably more concentrated than the Riservas from the region, a notch down in the Chianti classification system. Decant for a few hours – or better yet cellar for five years – and pair with wild mushroom risotto.
Château Durfort-Vivens 2010
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be tech billionaire to enjoy the red wines of Bordeaux. Yes, the first growths are priced for the point-one percent, but there are plenty of august bottles that come in well below the $100 mark. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with a splash of Cabernet Franc, this Margaux offers excellent value for the category. Pouring darker than Darth Vader’s pupils, it’s rich, spicy, juicy and tannic as all hell. Put this one down for a 10-year nap and then enjoy with prime rib.
Two Hands Lily’s Garden Shiraz 2014
Two Hands’ Garden Series showcases grapes from Australia’s top Shiraz-growing regions. Lily’s Garden features fruit from renowned McLaren Vale, which is close enough to Adelaide that it’s practically a suburb. A liqueur-like nose of cassis and Chambord is a prelude to a dense, chewy red with a balancing jolt of acidity and a finish longer than Australia’s Highway 1. Let this bad boy breathe for at least two hours then pair with rosemary-rubbed leg of lamb.
Stags’ Leap The Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
While much of the wine world embraces the offbeat and downright weird, there is something to be said about a good old California Caberet Sauvignon. (If you know someone with a blue chip job in finance, it’s especially likely they’re a fan.) The extraordinary Leap from Stags Leap can go toe-to-toe with other collectable Cabs that are three times the price. It has that surfer dude exuberance of ripe fruit and concentration, yet there is no shortage food-friendly acidity and tannic structure. It’s a little unyielding at the moment – this sucker is so dence you could put it through a meat slicer – but with a little patience (four to five years) you’ll be in for a real treat.
Masi Mazzano Amarone della Valpolicella 2011
In Italy’s Veneto region, Amarone is made from grapes that are partially dried on bamboo racks before vinification, a process called appassimento. The ultra-premium Mazzano from Masi is only produced in stellar vintages, and the 2011 is a flat-out stunner. Made from Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, the nose is a gift that keeps on giving – expect aromas of prunes, espresso, dark chocolate and bay leaves, to name a few. Clocking in at 16% alcohol, it’s a taut, muscular wine to be shared among many around a postprandial cheese board circa 2025.