Red Wine Varieties
RED WINE VARIETIES FROM THE McLAREN VALE WINE REGION
SYRAH / SHIRAZ
Have you tried a McLaren Vale Shiraz yet? Just checking. She has two names. Syrah, and Shiraz, depending on your topical location in the globe. Our Shiraz is fruit-forward, fatty, and is balanced with savory undertones. Darker than a Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz is known for mid-palate sweetness and balanced acidity. It leans on the side of occasionally jammy to a pick-me-up tartness that makes it unique and a cult classic. Shiraz LOVES soft cheeses, spiced meats, bacon, and bitter dark chocolates.
The Grenache is a medium-bodied wine whose profile is rich with ripe red fruit and notes of spicy cinnamon. Definitely on the sophisticated side of wine. Ordering a Grenache will make you seem upscale but not in an elitist way. Think more brownstone walk-up in Brooklyn type of elegance.
The Grenache features premium wine flavors like strawberry and black cherry and can range on the spectrum of dry and sweet depending on where you are in the world. Don't be surprised if you are greeted with flavors like tobacco and prickly pear!
If you are hungry, the Grenache pairs wonderfully with a slow-braised Sechuan beef dish or a Roasted Pine Nut and Eggplant meal. Either way, a class act.
Have you heard? McLaren Vale Grenache is the best Grenache in the world! We are slightly biased but hey..... You can get yours now at McLaren Vale Cellars.
A classic. A staple. A go-to. It is one of the most POPULAR wines in the world and easily the most high class. It is wonderful in the evening and with a light lunch in a Tuscan villa. Depending on your region, this will influence the type of grape and flavor of the Cabernet Sauvignon. We will now call it Cab for short. It’s simpler and much cooler. Cabs tend to be balanced between a fruity and herbal flavor with deep rich notes of cherries and currants topped with a dash of spice. One of our favorite things to do is pair a Cab with nice red meat, be it lamb or a petite filet. Add on a sauteed asparagus, and whipped garlic russet potato to complete the meal and full Cab experience.
Sweet, sensual, but nothing tart. Full-bodied, with high alcohol content and acidity, Malbec’s are originally French and are a very easy drinking wine. Oddly enough, most Malbec’s today are now produced in Argentina. Expect to find a beautiful, juicy, and wildly intoxicating purple tone to the wine while sipping on the aroma of a smoky summer plum. Malbec’s are a go-to for similar flavors that involve a peppery undertone, blue cheese, asiago, and hints of sage. We suggest pairing with lean pork or wild and mushroom risotto!
A fan favorite and all-around A+ game player, the Pinot Noir is light, soothing, and delicate. It is the most easygoing. Definitely, someone, you would invite to happy hour or an after-dinner aperitif. Expect to find more berry-like flavors including blackberry rums, light raspberry, and cinnamon cloves. We LOVE to pair Pinot’s with a nice roasted vegetable dish, salmon nigiri, or a duck ragu. Pinot’s are also a go-to for anyone just entering into the wine realm or looking for a good pairing with a dark chocolate cake.
Pulling in with a Silver Medal. The Merlot is the second most popular wine and most planted grape on the planet. Another wonderful entryway into the world of wine as it is easy to drink and has no bitter aftertaste. The tannins reach towards the lower side and some have called it a soft and sensual wine. Get back to us on whether you agree or not. It has a wonderful plummy and smooth texture that truly makes you feel high class. It’s dry, balanced, and pairs well in a variety of settings. Perhaps on an early evening with a charcuterie board or a gourmet Kobe beef slider. In addition! It is one of our favorites for firing up tomato-based pasta dishes and roasted meats!
Sangiovese is the Cabarnet of Italy. If you are really looking to impress your Italian friends, make direct eye contact with your waiter and order the Chianti confidently. They'll know what to do. It's experimental like nothing you will find in the US and has smoky, tobacco-like, and a light density. You obviously MUST order a classic Margherita or another Italian favorite when enjoying! It’s slightly tart, magical, and very unique and flavorful wine.
Montepulciano is not it's not only fun to say but a very classic Italian wine grape located in the Abruzzo region of East-Central Italy. If you want to seem cool order the Montepulciano. Soft tannins, earthy blackberry, and a light fruitfulness that signifies, I know my wine. Its deep coloring and rich flavor will make you feel somewhere rustic and wild. Calm and grounded. The Montepulciano is a big fan of meat due to its bold density and luxurious sip. Wonderful for savory dishes that include flavors of salt and smoky undertones. Would pair well with a ragu, tomato-based pasta, fresh pizzas, and smoked meats.
If you Google Nero Diavalo someone has quite literally declared it 'the most important red wine grape in Sicily' A bold statement. But we'll go with it. It's robust, medium-bodied, and loves to date rich men, I mean meats.
The Nero Diavolo is commonly compared to a modern Shiraz as well as the being the perfect blend of sweet tannins and dark stone fruits. Rich plum, violets, and a sprinkling of pepper can be found throughout.
If you are a fan of a fresh arugula salad dancing with sautéed bacon, goat cheese, cranberries, and a hard-boiled egg, we suggest ordering the Nero Diavolo. Also, lamb chops. Lamb chops are a good option.
It's Gamay, not Grammy
One of the lighter blends of fruit-favoring wines, its candied flavor is light and showcases the tang of strawberry, crisp raspberries, and ripe summer cherry.
Feeling sassy? Pair with a Cajun grilled shrimp dish. Looking for a cheeseboard, featuring the creaminess of a Bre and a Swiss Gruyere? The textures will complement a Gamay effortlessly.
Hailing from the region of Beaujolais, the Gamay has a very light body and boldness to it, a second cousin twice removed from say.. a Pinot Noir.
We suggest saving the Gamay for your warm summer months as it is best served chilled with a garden view of the vineyard.
An Italian favorite. The local secret. Barbera is a dark cherried and wilted strawberry leafed wine with the heart of a nutmeg and vanilla anise. The low tannins and high acidity create a wondrous, light-bodied density that is suitable for any occasion. She pulls in the Bronze behind the Sangiovese and Montepulciano in terms of being the most popular planted grape but is proud of her lesser-known status. It can be semi Merlot like but very different from the Nebiolla.
This wine is too cool for school as it is very easy to drink and would much rather cut class and skip the aging process. This is mainly because her ability to sour is heightened when allowed to mature. So. A little bratty. But that's only because she knows her worth.
In 1880, the Barbera made her way to California, blooming up a storm and becoming one of the more acidic red wines. It can be picked early for a ripe strawberry and tart raspberry flavor or allowed to ripen and develop a sour cherry effect.
The go-to pizza order with a Barbera would be a light lemon creme and mushroom truffle pie. Due to its high acidity, we suggest carbs. Bread, pasta, pizzas, risotto. This will cut the acidity and add texture, flavor, and levels to your meal.
Mencia is a Spanish wine that finds its home in the northwestern region of the country. It is a low-yielding fruit as it is a bit fickle when growing. The grape itself is sensitive, some would say needy. But look how beautiful that glass is!
Locals suggest pairing it with some flavorful empanada, hearty stews, and warm and spiced family-style pasta dishes.
On the drier side, the Mencia always has something to say about the earth, berries, and florals. She stays exclusively in regions of Portugal and Spain and considers herself medium-bodied.
Red fruit notes are very popular among each swirl and sip. Specialty glasses can debut a sour pomegranate and bite of cherry flavor. The tannins remain low to exemplify its bright red coloring.
By slightly chilling the glass, some have reported that its bold flavor fronts can even reach for a smooth chocolate undertone.
Nebbiolo-which sounds like a Harry Potter curse- is actually a delightfully plum cherry forward wine. It is Italian. It is sexy. And it is exclusively grown in the country it stems from. Rumor has it California has tried to re-create its glory but failed many a time.
The high levels of acidity and deep purple hue make for somewhat of a bite but can feature exotic flavors like strawberry, light florals, leather, and licorice.
Nebbiolo is a sucker for great dishes that involve flavorful olive oils and whole fat butter. If a creamy risotto is on the menu. Add some truffle and sail away on a melted dreamboat.
Originally from the Piedmont region of Italy, Nebbiolo is rustic and somewhat of a mystery. The world Nebbiolo translates to a fog. But if there is one thing that is clear, we love this wine.
Petit. But definitely not a minor league. This world-famous Bordeaux blend is effervescently fruit-forward and a show-off among all red wines. Its origin comes from warm French countrysides and can contain flavors like lilac and sage. The layers of summer plum and tart blueberry are layered to involve candied violets and the occasional sweet and jammy taste. Specifically, if you meander to the Petit Verdot in Spain.
The name translates to 'green one' but that's not necessarily something to show off at a dinner party.
In 1980, the Petit Verdot had somewhat of a comeback moment. Revamping their style and heading to regions like California and Australia where they would be more appreciated.
Dominant in categories of black fruits, high tannins, and an intriguing herbal flavor. Getting hungry? If you are a fan of spicy pork, hard cheeses, and savory summer sausages, the Petit Verdot will be your new best friend. Hoping for something with more herbs? Go for Rosemary, Hazelnut, Ancholo, and Turmeric. Go wild.
The Petite Syrah or Shiraz? We are sure we like this wine.
Dating back to the 1880s in France, the Syrah made its way to America, where some confident young fellow named Charles McIvar decided to coin it a Petite Syrah for its blend. We don't know who gave him the right to name it, but sounds good enough.
We would've just called it awesome.
Serving this wine at a slightly chilled temperature will enhance its floral symphony and minerals. Be prepared to have the flavors dance along your palate, toting along with fevers of blueberry, chocolate, and spiced pepper. While this may seem exotic, they are truly blended perfectly so that each note, hint, and flavor is layered to walk onto your palate like different acts in an opera.
Today it is exceptionally rare and grown primarily in California. It contains immune-boosting antioxidants and you can tell your doctor that.
Napa and Sonoma California love their Petite Syrah's as its high tannins pair perfectly with smoky fruit flavors and exotic spices that are home to the Northern California atmosphere.
Need a cheat sheet? The Petite Syrah does NOT have a sweet tooth when it comes to food pairings. This means Cheese: Gouda. Meat: Chicken. Smoked. Barbeque. Duck. Veggies: Nightshades, Spicy Beans.
The Sagrantino wine was first cultivated by monks. Therefore it is enlightened. Therefore, you will also become enlightened whilst drinking a nice glass of Sagrantino. This wine is a huge fan of truffles, risottos, mushrooms, and all earthy flavors.
The name comes from the word or light translation of 'sacred' and 'holy celebration.' Drink enough of the Sagrantino and maybe this will make more sense. History-wise, it was used mostly for religious purposes.
If you are a science nerd, history buff, or health fanatic, the Sagrantino grape is thick-skinned and contains rich polyphenols, allowing it to bottle and age for centuries.
Its rich, black tea, dark cherries, plum, and licorice palates will guide you towards a dry, bold, and full-bodied wine with high tannins and balanced acidity. Expect some subtle spice. An underscore of umami, rosemary, and blackberry herb are not uncommon to find either.
Its home of Umbria, neighbors to Tuscany, rejoices in this wine, not because it is better than any other wine around. But because it is indigenous to the region and holds cultural significance and high prestige to the local culture of Umbria.
It's oaky and robust, maturing effortlessly and innocently. The Sagrantino alcohol percentage contains a minimum of 13%. Maybe this is why the locals enjoy it so much.
Eat accordingly. This means bread, pasta, wild game, asparagus, boar, and pecorino.
Full-bodied. Full force. Full flavor. Oaky. Orange hued. Uniquely innovative and exquisite.
Primarily grown in Spain, Portugal, and Argentina, this wine is diverse and has a subtle tomato cherry and red fruit character.
Let's just say if the Tempranillo were to go to a happy hour on the Spanish coast, both the Sangiovese and a Cabernet Sauvignon would be there. It's vintage without being dated and exclusive enough where not everybody can get a hold of it.
The Tempranillo loves a good lasagna, smoky barbecue, and is a huge fan of any corn polenta dish. OH and don't forget Taco Tuesday. The Tempranillo could easily crush a hot taco or fajita plate for days.
Touriga Nacional is a full-bodied, exclusive wine that stirs up trouble. It's dark-skinned, modern, and produces some of the most elite wines in Portugal. You can specifically find this wine in regions like Doa and Doura.
Compared to a French Cabernet Sauv, we believe the dark fruit flavors offer a little something more. It is lush, loves all things fatty, and has relatively low tannins. Swirled into each glass will be surprise guests like mint, violet, and even lavender. Today, it is now a common blending grape in many ports and Bordeaux.
The high tannins make for a high-class occasion. It is among 107 new grape varieties that will soon be sweeping up many awards this season.
It is great for any happy hour or cocktail time or after-dinner aperitif. However, we suggest keeping things simple. There is nothing delicate about this wine. Eclectic and flexible, the Touriga Nacional can be paired with menu items like sirloin steak, herbed potatoes, and meatloaves. It is also a sucker for a good chocolate custard dessert.
The McLaren Vale Winery approves all things Touriga Nacional
Light-bodied similarly to the Pinot Noir, the ZInfandel is refreshing, bold, and has high acidity and moderate tannin levels. They stand out for their dark coloring but are really set apart by the spicy red berries that come forth through the flavor. A very dry sweet wine, we suggest pairing with a summer barbeque, grilled meats, and very pungent cheese.
Wherever your taste, palate, or flavor preferences lie, know that the McLaren Vale Winery is here to sip, pour, and indulge with you every day. We are wine drinkers, wine experts, connoisseurs, not conne-sours, and we take all walks of life no matter where you are on your wine journey.
Be sure to reach out to us for specialty recommendations, deals, and bundle opportunities.