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Hearty Red Wines

The dog days of summer are slinking off the calendar and we are looking forward to cooler days and nights — relative of course to your proximity to the equator. Regardless, this time of year is one of the best for enjoying a glass of red wine on the deck or porch, for as the sun goes down and the evening temperature drops, nothing says fall like red. This time of year, we like Aussie and Spanish reds for their easy sipping, their broad compatibility with food and their exceptional value.

Wines from Australia

In a word — Shiraz. Shiraz is also known as Syrah, which is a staple grape in many French and American wines. These two countries produce outstanding wines from this grape, but the Aussies are now leading the way with quality fruit-forward wines at a price that cannot be beat.

In The Wine Bible writer Karen MacNeil notes that Australian Shiraz has a “rich, sappy, berry taste, seductive aromas, and thick, soft texture…” She goes on to say that these wines “have more fruit saturation than Syrahs from the Rhone valley of France,” in turn making them more accessible and less dependent on food for cutting astringency.

Another reason Aussie Shiraz is so user-friendly is that Australia is less concerned with vineyard bottling and creates tasty wines from the best grapes across many vineyards. This allows for the creation of a more balanced wine year-in and year-out with similar flavor profiles and generally better prices. What this means for you is a wine that is a good value from year to year that does not change taste as radically as some wines do.

Current favorites at The Fresh Market include Peter Lehman Shiraz, D’Arenberg Stump Jump and Hill of Content Grenache/Shiraz. Other quality producers include Four Emus, Penfold’s and Rosemount. Look for these and newer finds at our stores, and don’t forget to pick up something from our meat and seafood departments for the barbie!

Reds from Spain

“Spaniards talking about making wine use the verb elaborar, to elaborate, not fabricar, to produce or manufacture. To elaborate something, Spain’s winemakers say, implies consciousness, time, and the labor of creation and nurturance. It is different from mere production.” -Karen MacNeil, The Wine Bible

Wine enthusiasts cannot stop talking about Spain these days. MacNeil, Robert Parker and the writers at The Wine Spectator all recognize Spain as a producer of high-quality wines at great prices, as well as a champion of home-grown varietals in addition to international grapes.

When we look at Spanish wines, we generally refer to regions. Regions that produce exceptional wines include Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Jumilla.

Rioja reds are the best known of all Spanish red wines, and the wines there are favorably compared to French Bordeaux. Tempranillo is the major grape used in wines from this region. It is often compared to Italy’s Sangiovese. These wines pair very well with any of our Spanish cheeses and our Hereford beef. Producers to look for include Marques de Riscal and Bodegas Muga.

Tinto Fino, the major grape of Ribera del Duero, is the backbone of this region’s most famous wine: Vega-Sicilia Unico. Tinto Fino is considered a variety of Tempranillo, the grape of Rioja. Ribera del Duero wines are the perfect partner for lamb and simple, rustic dishes because their soft tannins, robust weight and flavors of licorice, leather, mocha and dark berries have the chance to shine.

Jumilla has been a minor region until recently, when its bargain pricing and high quality made headlines in Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate. Jumilla wineries use a number of grapes in production, but keep an eye out for Garnacha, Syrah and Monastrell grapes for your best bet. Like its siblings, these are food-friendly wines, but we recommend that you look to hard cheeses and rustic beef and chicken dishes for the best foods to pair with them. Producers of note include Finca Luzon, Bodegas Hijos de Juan Gil and Panarroz.