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Monday, May 27, 2024
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Wine Time with Aaron the Wine Guy

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Wine Time with Aaron the Wine Guy

Hello Prince Albert! After tasting and discussing many old-world or cold climate wines, I figured it was time to shift my focus to new-world or warm climate wines. In other words, its time to start tasting full-bodied, fruity and sometimes sweeter wines to round out my palate and offer my perspective on the flavor and quality offered by these wines.

While new-world wines traditionally come from countries like Canada, USA, Argentina, Australia, Chile and New Zealand (among others), fruity, full-bodied wines can still be found in countries often considered old-world like Spain, Italy, Portugal, France and Greece. These types of wines are often referred to as warm-climate wines.

Warm climate wines differ from cold climate wines in many ways. The most noticeable differences are the body (light vs. heavy), the acidity (low vs. high) and the general flavor profiles (fruity and intense vs austere and light). Most of this is due to the higher levels of sunlight and retention of heat in the vineyards during the days and nights.

As temperatures drop in the vineyard, sugar production levels off and acidity rises while increases in temperature have the opposite effect on grapes. Finding the perfect balance in the grapes before the production of wine is the key to realizing the vision that winemakers have for their specific type of wine.

Balance in wine can be technically measured using analytics, statistical data and professional tastings but one thing that is harder to predict or measure is how consumers will react to the wine. Will they enjoy it or find it not to their liking? After spending thousands of hours selling wine in Prince Albert, the trend that I see most is customers leaning towards easy-drinking, fruity wines with a bold character and plenty of intensity. Aka, warm-climate or new-world wines.

I really enjoyed both wines this week and they delivered an equal amount of flavor and intensity. I will point out that I enjoyed the wine from Portugal most as not only did it deliver a flavorful, full-bodied experience but it was very nicely balanced as well. The acidity was just enough to lift the flavors and the wine never tasted too sweet. Both wines come from hot portions of their respective countries but the Point West tastes like it was crafted with more expertise.

The Magic Box was delicious as well but it did end up tasting flabby since it had a higher sugar content (medium-dry) and lower acidity. This left the wine tasting slightly flat and overly fruity. The Point West struck the perfect compromise between warm-climate flavors and balanced acidity which resulted in its score of “Very good”.

To combat the effects of too much heat in the vineyard, many estates will elevate the grapes with altitude (mountains, hills or valleys) or find a way to ventilate the grapes in an attempt to keep them cool using natural valleys, proximity to the ocean/sea or giant fans which keep the breeze flowing through the vineyards. Of course, every time a producer has to use machines, it increases the cost of production which is why vineyards are placed as strategically as possible.

While I do love a good Cabernet Sauvignon from a hot region, in this instance I preferred the Touriga Nacional (national grape of Portugal). The Point West wine will be difficult to find in Prince Albert and I found it lurking at the back of my wine cellar. To try something similar, check out the Portugal section and pick up a Touriga Nacional either as a blend or single varietal. Here are my wine picks of the week!

The Magic Box Amazing Cabernet 2018: (South-Eastern Australia). Medium-dry red, deep purple color with thick legs on the glass. The aromas of ripe dark fruit explode from the glass from the first pour with Welch’s grape juice, blackberries, bubble gum, dark cherries, vanilla, prunes, California raisins, sweet spice and whiffs of engine oil/tar. One word to sum up the nose: juicy! On the palate, the wine is full-bodied and packed with ripe dark/purple fruit. Blackberries, sweet black licorice and intense plums and dark cherries make the mouth water. The flavors are simple but tasty and the wine is out of balance but still enjoyable. Low acidity makes it mild and soft while medium tannins give a bit of chew on the teeth and sides of the mouth. Hints of black pepper and tea linger but the dominating note on the finish is sweet prunes. Preserved fruit is a highlight here but the wine has a quick finish leaving little time to savor or contemplate. Pair with grilled meats, beef roast or smoked brisket. Good! $18, 14% ABV

Point West 2015: (DOC Lisboa, Portugal). Off-dry red, deep purple color. The nose opens with a wallop of dark fruity scents such as black and red grapes, black currants, pomegranate, dark cherries and an undertone of sea breeze. The fruity intensity comes through from the first sip on the palate with a rush of black currants, purple grape juice and dark cherries quickly followed by a transition of warming spice near the end of the mid-palate. With medium-plus body and medium acidity, the wine manages to stay balanced with just enough zip to lift the heavier fruit flavors. A lovely finish of cinnamon sticks and black pepper warm the tongue while concentrated notes of blackberry and black tea intermingle. Medium tannins give a touch of grip on the sides of the mouth and provide structure. Delicious Touriga Nacional which should be paired with braised short ribs, pulled pork poutine or meat loaf. Very good! $22, 12.5% ABV

Cheers and thanks for reading!