Column: A trio of comfort wines for the long weekend

It’s Family Day this Monday and most of us have three days to shovel snow, then relax indoors and maybe cook some comfort food. And to go along with your cooking, indulge in some comfort wine.

As most wine fans know, Spain is famous for its delicious red wines. But there are some excellent Spanish whites and one is the 2017 Luzada Albarino ($17.99). Made from Albarino grapes from Spain’s Rias Baixas wine region in Galicia in northwest Spain, renowned for making Albarino. If you’ve been on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, you’ve been in Galicia whose capital is Santiago de Compostela.

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And the Luzada version lives up to the grape’s stellar reputation. This is a very dry tangy lemon and lime-scented wine. It pairs beautifully with the abundant seafood on the coast of Galicia thanks to its refreshing acid, citrus and quince flavours, and almond finish. Think Albarino and grilled octopus and you will have a match made for a long weekend.

Another choice for the Family Day weekend is the 2017 Cedar Creek Chardonnay ($18.99). Cedar Creek is one of the eight pioneer wineries in the Okanagan Valley releasing its first wines in 1987.

This would be a good wine to serve side by side with the Luzada Albarino as both wines are dry whites with citrus and good matches for whitefish and shellfish. Unlike the Albarino which is aged in stainless steel, the Chardonnay is oak aged. If you find Chards to be too oaky, the Cedar Creek has a kiss of toasty oak and vanilla that is subtle. You won’t feel like you’re drinking liquid oak! There is also a delicious peach character to this wine that adds to the complexity and appeal.

The estate grown Chardonnay grapes are picked early which preserves the citrus and mineral flavour profile. Then they are fermented with natural yeasts in a hundred separate vessels including barriques, puncheons and stainless steel.

Although Ross Fitzpatrick was the original owner of Cedar Creek, recently Mission Hill’s Anthony von Mandel has purchased the winery, which will ensure the quality of Cedar Creeks wines will continue to evolve.

Finally the red of the trio, the 2016 Tarima Monastrell ($13.99 on sale until March 2nd). Known as Mourvèdre in France, this Spanish Monastrell has been awarded 90+points since 2011 with the 2016 vintage achieving 92 points from American critic, James Suckling.

Its dark red colour indicates this is a wine with plenty of character. The bouquet has lots of dark fruit, and the flavour has blackberries, blueberries and black cherries, with herbs, earth, smoke and some Indian spice. With all that flavour 14.5 per cent alcohol and smooth tannins, the Monastrell enjoys a rich velvety texture.

A robust, juicy, savoury Spanish red wine at an affordable price!  The Tarima Monastrell goes well with grilled pork, lamb, chicken or even paella. Drinking well now but can improve until 2021.

Eric Hanson is a Richmond wine educator and writer.




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