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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. Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, 2007

    Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, 2007

    This vintage was ravaged by summer storms but the quality was rescued by good weather in September producing a deliciously soft red wine.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  2. Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, 2008

    Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, 2008

    The vintage 2008 of Château Bernadotte is a round and mellow wine with blackcurrant fruit.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
    Country France

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  3. Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, 2010

    Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, 2010

    A cru bourgeois wine made in the Haut-Médoc from roughly equal proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Robert Parker is a fan.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  4. Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, Half Bottle, 2009

    Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, Half Bottle, 2009

    Robert Parker described it as the best wine to date from this estate and requiring a little more time to evolve.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  5. Château Cissac, Haut-Médoc, 1986

    Château Cissac, Haut-Médoc, 1986

    Château Cissac is a dark and tannic cru bourgeois wine needing a longer cellaring than other such wines. This was an exceptional year and is still drinking very well indeed.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  6. Chateau Cos d'Estournel, Saint-Estèphe, 1997

    Chateau Cos d'Estournel, Saint-Estèphe, 1997

    Château Cos d'Estournel is a 2nd. classed growth in the appellation of Saint-Estèphe in the Haut-Médoc. For lovers of mature claret.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  7. Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien, 1978

    Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien, 1978

    This is an elegant wine widely regarded as one of the very best of the 2nd. growths. It is known for its elegance rather than a fleshy fruitiness.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France


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  8. Château Durfort-Vivens, Margaux 2ème Cru Classé , 1970

    Château Durfort-Vivens, Margaux 2ème Cru Classé , 1970

    A very mature Margaux which is a 2nd. classed growth.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France


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  9. Château Grand-Puy-Ducasse, Pauillac, 2005

    Château Grand-Puy-Ducasse, Pauillac, 2005

    This wine is proof that top quality Pauillac doesn't have to cost the earth. Lovely blackcurrant fruit with a firm tannic structure.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  10. Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac, 1996

    Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac, 1996, is a full bodied Bordeaux exuding sweet black fruits, with hints of tobacco, spice and oak, a degree of minerality and ripe tannins.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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