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Red Wine

Fine Red Wine

Making red wine is relatively simple in theory. However, it does require great skill and care. As with all wine, the basic concept is the conversion of the sugary must from the grapes into alcohol. As 99% of the actual grape juice is clear, red wine requires maceration to attain its colour.

Maceration is the process where the harvested grapes are crushed and moved to thermo-regulated vats. Here tannins, flavour compounds and colouring agents that come from the skin, seeds and stems of the grape dissolve and integrate themselves in the juice giving it flavour and colour while the juices ferment to produce wine. The depth of the colour depends on the grape variety and the length of maceration.

The world’s most prolific red grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah (also known as Shiraz) as well as Nebbiolo in Italy and Tempranillo in Spain, but there are many others. Each grape has its own flavour and characteristics and often you will encounter blends which bring together the properties of different grapes to create a wine which is much greater than the sum of its parts.

Historically, the best red wines in the world come from the regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhône Valley in France, Piedmont and Tuscany in Italy and Rioja in Spain. Today, this holds true for the traditionalist, but the New World reds certainly have their following of connoisseurs.

Red wines tend to fall in to 5 categories: ‘Light and fruity’, ‘medium-bodied and fruity’, ‘full-bodied and fruity’, ‘complex and tannic’ and ‘complex and elegant’.

Light and fruity reds are generally considered as easy-drinking wines. They have a tendency to be crisp with light tannins and notes of soft fruits and flowers. Beaujolais, generic Burgundies, Zinfandels and Valpolicellas of Italy fall into this category amongst others. Generally they go well with simple foods in particular charcuterie, quiche and pizza. Serve at 12-14°C.

Medium-bodied and fruity red wines have stronger tannins and a heavier feel on the tongue with aromas of red fruits and hints of spice. They tend to not have been aged in oak. These wines include Bergerac, generic Bordeaux, Côte du Rhône, Chianti from Italy and Penedès from Spain. They would drink well alongside meat dishes in a sauce, smaller game, pâté and roasted meats. Serve at 15-17°C.

Full-bodied and fruity reds tend to have high alcohol content and plenty of tannins, partly due to maturation in oak barrels, which will soften with age to produce exceptional wine. These wines are complex and bear strong aromas of ripe, dark fruits and spice. Key examples here are wines from Saint-Emilion and Pomerol as well as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Cahors, Rioja, and Shiraz wines from Australia. Wines as complex and deep as these go well with rich and fatty dishes for example grilled/roasted red meat, duck confit, foie gras and game. Serve at 15-17°C.

Complex and tannic reds tend to be more expensive. Their heavy tannins will age and produce firm wines with great finesse. Red and black fruits and spicy undertones are prominent with vanilla and toasty notes as new oak is likely to have been used. Full flavours and beautiful finishes are common in this bracket. Here you will find all the famous sub-regions of Bordeaux as well as Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage, Barolo from Italy and a few new world Cabernet Sauvignons. These powerful reds go well with rich but not too fatty dishes such as game and roast lamb; they also partner well with truffles. Serve at 15-17°C.

Complex and elegant red wines. This select and elite group is reserved for the best of Burgundy. All from the Pinot Noir variety, these exceptional wines are very rare and highly priced, sometimes phenomenally expensive. These are complex wines with aromas of red and black berries, floral notes with hints of game and undergrowth (sous-bois in French). They are silky on the palate with a long and memorable finish. Wines from Chambolle-Musigny, Morey-St-Denis, Gevrey-Chambertin, Beaune and of course Vosne-Romanée are amongst the great Burgundies in this category. Dishes should be chosen well with these special wines and will be different for each. Usually slow-cooked food and roasts make good matches. Serve at 16-17°C.

  1. Château Puy Castera, Cru Bourgeois, Haut-Médoc, 2010 (Magnum)

    Château Puy Castera, Cru Bourgeois, Haut-Médoc, 2010 (Magnum)

    Good Cru Bourgeois claret from the with a fairly typical Cabernet Sauvignon dominated nose of red berry fruits and blackberries.

    Details
    Cardinal's Rating 88
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  2. Vriesenhof, Paradyskloof Pinot Noir, Stellenbosch, 2014

    Vriesenhof, Paradyskloof Pinot Noir, Stellenbosch, 2014

    The nose is complex and is typical of a Pinot Noir with earthy, forest floor scents, mushrooms and a mineral edge.

    Details
    Cardinal's Rating 90
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Pinot Noir
    Country South Africa

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  3. Château Tour du Pas St Georges, St-Georges-St-Êmilion, 2007

    Château Tour du Pas St Georges, St-Georges-St-Êmilion, 2007

    A wine to enjoy rather than lay-down, this is a well-rounded wine with very nice ripe fruit and tannins.

    Details
    Cardinal's Rating 90
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  4. Silvano Bolmida, Vigna dei Fantini, Barolo, 2008

    Silvano Bolmida, Vigna dei Fantini, Barolo, 2008

    A lighter and more fragrant Barolo than is often the case. This Barolo has truly ethereal qualities.

    Details
    Cardinal's Rating 92
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Nebbiolo
    Country Italy

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  5. Silvano Bolmida, Vigna dei Fantini, Barolo, 2007

    Silvano Bolmida, Vigna dei Fantini, Barolo, 2007

    Silvano Bolmida's Barolos are long-lived wines. Aromatic with dense fruit and refined tannins in youth it continues to evolve developing into a complex and harmonious wine with sweet spices on the beguiling finish.

    Details
    Cardinal's Rating 92
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Nebbiolo
    Country Italy

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  6. Domaine de Cambes, Bordeaux, 2010

    Domaine de Cambes, Bordeaux, 2010

    Made from vines on the same slopes as the nearby Château Roc de Cambes but not classified as a Côtes de Bourg wine as not all the vines are within the appellation's boundaries. A juicy red with good texture, notes of bright cherry and dry tannins.

    Details
    Cardinal's Rating 92
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  7. Claudie Jobard, Rully Rouge La Chaume, 2010

    Claudie Jobard, Rully Rouge La Chaume, 2010

    Somewhat unusually a red wine from the appellation of Rully, more well-known for its white wines. An appealing wine made with Pinot Noir grapes it has typical perfumes of delicate red fruits with a refined elegance with more finesse than one normally expects from this appellation.

    Details
    Cardinal's Rating 92
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Pinot Noir
    Country France

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  8. Les Hauts de Martet, Sainte-Foy Bordeaux, 2009

    Les Hauts de Martet, Sainte-Foy Bordeaux, 2009

    As a second wine of Château Martet, the fruit from the younger vines go towards the production of Les Hauts de Martet which is made from 100% Merlot grapes. Les Hauts de Martet, 2009, is a wine that boxes well above the weight of its modest appellation and offers great value.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

    Out of stock

  9. Château Puy Castera, Cru Bourgeois, Haut-Médoc, 2009

    Château Puy Castera, Cru Bourgeois, Haut-Médoc, 2009

    Château Puy Castera is a cru bourgeois estate in the Haut-Médoc that produces a delicious and charming red Bordeaux wine at a very good price.

    Details
    Cardinal's Rating 88
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

    Out of stock

  10. Domaine Raspail-Ay, Gigondas, 2013

    Domaine Raspail-Ay, Gigondas, 2013

    Another fine vintage Gigondas from this exemplary estate in the Southern Rhône.

    Details
    Cardinal's Rating 88
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety GSM Blend
    Country France

    Out of stock

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