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waters on wine

The syrah grape features in three of this week’s recommendations.Cave de Tain/Handout

While the change in weather encourages us to throw on a sweater or jacket before heading out the door, it also stimulates an appetite for more substantial meals than summer’s lighter fare.

It affects our taste in wine as well, leading us to reach for richer, more concentrated styles than the crisp and refreshing ones that made sense in the heat and humidity. Fall’s weather invites wines with bolder flavours and robust character, which, on the surface, might seem to favour reds from around the globe. But there are plenty of suitable white wine selections – rounder, full-bodied rosés too, such as the styles made in Bandol or Tavel.

The syrah grape features in three of this week’s recommendations. It possesses a range of personality from bright and juicy in the case of an exciting Crozes-Hermitage from the northern Rhône to more concentrated and complex examples from the south of France and Australia’s Barossa Valley.

But many other cultivated grape varieties offer the cozy temperament to suit the changing scenery. Well-made bottles of barbera, pinot noir and malbec are suggested here, while two value priced white wines round out the range.

Baron de Ley White 2021 (Spain), $14.95

Rating:88 /100

Established in 1985, Baron de Ley produces wine in Rioja, with an increasing interest in whites and rosés. This fresh and enjoyable white is produced from a blend of viura and other native grapes, which contribute a pleasing mix of citrus and herbal aromas and flavours. Aging in concrete adds weight and texture to this wine, without diminishing its crisp and refreshing character. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta, $20 in Nova Scotia.

Bastide Miraflors Syrah Grenache Vieilles Vignes 2019 (France), $19.95

Rating:90 /100

This flavourful and fuller-bodied dry red wine is made from a blend of syrah (70 per cent) and grenache in Roussillon in the South of France. Nicely layered cherry, berry and plum fruit flavours are accented by oak-derived smoke, toast and cocoa notes. The bold and concentrated style is approachable and has potential to mature gracefully in the cellar. Drink now to 2028. Available in Ontario at the above price, $26.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $20.10 in Quebec, $28.98 in New Brunswick.

Cave de Tain Héritiers Gambert Nobles Rives Crozes-Hermitage 2020 (France), $27.95

Rating:92 /100

A lively and juicy red made with syrah from the northern Rhône, this offers fresh red fruit, smooth tannins and a pleasant lingering aftertaste. The supple texture and mouthwatering character make this a great red wine to enjoy with a meal. Drink now to 2028. Available in Ontario.

Cloudline Pinot Noir 2020 (United States), $27.95

Rating:88 /100

Made by Domaine Drouhin Oregon, the Cloudline brand was designed to be an accessible and affordable expression of Willamette Valley pinot. A generous core of ripe berry flavours, fragrant floral accents and smooth texture make this enjoyable introduction to pinot noir. Drink now to 2026. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta, $25.85 in Quebec.

Cune Reserva 2017 (Spain), $21.95

Rating:92 /100

The family-owned Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana (better known as C.V.N.E. or Cune) continues to be model of winemaking consistency in the Rioja region. Its popular Reserva red wine continues to be a benchmark for its category, offering a light and juicy character with bright red fruit and fragrant herbal accents. The balance of acidity, tannins and tart cherry and berry notes make for a refreshing wine that’s enjoyable on its own or with a meal. Drink now to 2029. Vegan-friendly. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta, $27.99 in Manitoba, $25.30 in Quebec (2015 vintage).

M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Blanc 2021 (France), $16.95

Rating:89 /100

A blend of grenache blanc, roussanne, marsanne and macabeu makes for a rich and refreshing white wine, with citrus and herbal (fennel) aromas. The creamy texture of the palate adds to the enjoyment, with concentrated honeyed, apple and citrus flavours that carry through to a refreshing finish. Zesty acidity and a subtle salty quality balance the weight and body of this well-made, approachable wine. Drink now to 2024. Available in Ontario at the above price, $19.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $21.99 in Nova Scotia.

Michele Chiarlo Le Orme Barbera d’Asti 2020 (Italy), $15.95

Rating:90 /100

This fruity and vibrant red wine is always delicious – and a great value for less than $20 per bottle. The mix of juicy red fruit and savoury flavours is fresh, but not tart, which makes for an expressive pizza, pasta or burger style of wine. Drink now to 2026. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta, $16.60 in Quebec, $18.99 in New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

Susana Balbo Crios Malbec 2020 (Argentina), $16.95

Rating:88 /100

Crios is the entry level brand made by Susana Balbo, one of Argentina’s pioneering winemakers. Warm and dry conditions in the Uco Valley during the 2020 growing season helped to produce this ripe and concentrated red wine. A mix of barrel and tank aged components make for a pleasantly fruity style of malbec with a silky texture and appealing length. Drink now to 2024. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta, $24.49 in Saskatchewan.

Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz 2020 (Australia), $29.95

Rating:91 /100

Made in Torbreck’s richly concentrated and full-bodied house style, Woodcutter’s Shiraz blends grapes grown in vineyards spread across the Barossa, including Marananga, Lyndoch, Ebenezer. Low yields and a hot and dry growing season make for a particularly rich and inviting style of shiraz, with a ripe core of dark fruit that gains complexity from spice and savoury notes. Drink now to 2028. Available in Ontario at the above price, $36.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta.

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