Wines to Drink to Get Through a Pandemic - Part 3

As an end of April baby, I know too well that April is the cruelest month. I have far too many memories of being forced to wear a grubby snowsuit over my party dress for a foolishly requested backyard party that eventually got rushed inside due to marble-sized hail.  A few weeks ago we caught a glimpse of spring and it felt like time to cook lighter and think about sitting on the balcony with an insouciant apéritif, mais non. Winter appears resurrected and with the word flurries even today being used to describe precipitation in this province, I'm still cooking comfort food and opening red wine.

Here are two wines I tried last week:

Paul Jaboulet Aîné Secret de Famille Syrah 2017

$16.95  |   VINTAGES#:  13009

Paul Jaboulet Aîné makes a range of wines from $100+ Northern Rhône reds to cheap and cheerful Viognier (under the same label, Secret de Famille, $15.95 and usually in the LCBO though there is not much in stock at the moment) and many in-between. I find the wines consistently good across all price points, including this one.

In the glass, the wine is deep ruby red with pretty violet tinges. On the nose there is black cherry, currant, plum with some campfire and pepper. The fruit is ripe on the palate, with good balanced acid and tannin making this a firm yet very drinkable wine. If you are a fan of more typical Northern Rhône Syrah, with its smoky, herbal, meaty notes, super tight structure and great longevity, this is not that. This wine from southern France has much more fresh fruit, a gentler structure and less complexity. But it's a good food wine and the price is right for a yummy, weekday red. Traditional pairing with Syrah is lamb, but I made a simple pasta with meat sauce and it was delicious.

MontGras Antu Carmenère 2017

$18.95  |   VINTAGES#:  632752

Carmenère is Chile's signature red grape and can sometimes be a challenging wine because of its very green overtones, which when too dominant can be off-putting to some palates. When in balance, these wines can be quite complex, pleasantly medium bodied and food friendly. This particular Carmenère is a bit brawnier than I usually like, but if you are in the mood for a bold red to warm you down to your toes, this is a good choice.

On the nose, typical green notes of blistered Shishito pepper with black cherry, plum, cinnamon and a touch of vanilla extract. The wine has a rich palate of plum and black currant with subtler green, dried herbal notes a bit more in the background. Full bodied at 14.5% alcohol, the wine boasts a lot of structure with chewy tannins. A long plum jam finish with some earthy notes and medicinal herbs. This is a wine for beef stew or ribs in a savoury barbeque sauce.

The now too familiar refrain of "stay inside" seems a bit easier to do when winter has overstayed its welcome, and of course it is made even easier if we have the great good fortune to enjoy some tasty wine and food. But here's hoping that spring arrives, this time with conviction, very soon.

Until next time, stay safe and healthy and enjoy your wine.