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New reds and rosés

If you were to ask what categories we feel will show the most growth this year I would have to say prosecco, red blends and fine rosé. We are not looking to expand prosecco beyond Lamarca, Pasqua, Santa Margherita and Canella. Our selection of red blends and rosés could still fill out a little more and so this week I would like to introduce you to two of the former and three of the latter that have just arrived.

Red blends are made in two ways; the first is where the grape varieties are fermented separately from each other and then kept that way to gain some age until the winemaker creates the final blend. I have been told that an old-school “field blend” is far trickier to work with — this is where all the grapes are fermented and then aged together. Our new Ravenswood 2014 Besieged results from the winemaker tossing petite sirah, carignan, zinfandel, syrah, barbera, alicante bouchet and mourvedre all in the same vat and letting Mother Nature take her course.

Ravenswood, so well known for their zinfandels, have created dark, rich and full flavours that ignite your senses with blackberry, black cherry and baking spices.

I like what Canadian wine critic Natalie Maclean writes: “91/100. This is a robust Californian red wine blend. Had the Californian wine industry not been interrupted by Prohibition, this is the type of wine the state would be producing today: mostly complex field blends. Field blends are from traditional mixed plantings of different grapes in the same vineyard. Terrific dark fruit flavours of blackberry and black cherry, though this wine is not sweet. It was aged for ten months in French oak barrels, of which 40 per cent were new.”

I happen to think that the label, with ravens circling in a stormy sky, is particularly eye-catching. $23.70.

Rosé has been the focus of winemaking ever since the Greeks introduced vines to Provence in 600BC; a combination of heritage, place and production standards has taken our world by storm. It is fair to say that in this area the French vineyard was born. To support a new generation of winemakers the Centre de Recherche et d’Expérimentation sur le Vin Rosé was founded in 1999. It remains the only institute dedicated to rosé wine in the world. Today these wines complement modern-day cuisine and lifestyles.

Insolence d’ Estandon 2015 Rosé is a blend of grapes so popular in Provence now: grenache, rolle (vermentino), cinsault and syrah. At $15.75 it is easy to enjoy with crisp, fresh fruit and acidity. It is soft on the palate and displays good balance.

The next step up is their Solstice d’Estandon 2015 and it derives its fragrant, refined balance from grapes that are sourced from the finest sunbathed terroirs of the Cotes de Provence. It is silky with white fruit and floral aromas on the nose. There is even peach and a touch of pepper. $23.75. It has won two gold medals.

Estandon Légende Rosé 2014 is their top wine and it is a blend of grenache and syrah. It is a beautiful orange-pink hue with salmon nuances. Delicate and fruity on the nose, it has notes of pear, touches of raspberry as well as hints of soft spice. The palate reveals lovely smoothness with delicate aromas of dried nuts and candied fruit. Wine Enthusiast magazine rated it 92/100 and says that it balances richness with a light touch that gives fruity, refreshing pleasure. $29.75.

On the subject of red blends many of you already know of 19 Crimes from Australia. Maybe not in our shops by the time you read this, but we do have a new addition that has just arrived from the 19 Crimes folks and it is called The Banished. It will sell for the same $17.75 but you will find this blend of shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and grenache a little more intense, with dark chocolate and vanilla aromatics balanced with blackberry and plum fruits that are mouth coating. It is also from South Eastern Australia. James Wilson, featured on the label, was convicted of desertion and placed on the last convict ship to sail to Australia on October 12, 1867.

This column is a paid for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits is available at www.wineonline.bm.