But why is red wine so good in the winter? Well like most things with wine, it all comes down to preference, and there's no strict rules, so there's nothing wrong with enjoying white wine in the winter and red wine in the summer! But some people find that the depth of flavour, body and tannin of the wine and perhaps slightly higher alcohol of many red wines lends itself well to enjoying by a fireplace or a cosy atmosphere when it's freezing outside. It's a thing, and this is why we've put together a collection of Winter Warmers to keep your tastebuds happy, your minds enlivened and your bodies warm over these cooler months.
We've got a ton of red wine in the cellar at the moment, including some new releases from Frederick Stevenson!
I first tasted Frederick Stevenson wines at a temporary outdoor venue called Lola's Pergola, which ran for about 3 weeks on the banks of the Mighty River Torrens as part of Adelaide Festival during March 2014. Tucked away in the North West corner was a little out-of-the-way bar where a bunch of up and coming (and a few more established) winemakers were serving some of their mysterious wines, most of which at that time weren't readily available. It felt like a bit of a secret, and the wine was all very different from what was available at the large 'normal' bar, run by a large company. One of the producers pouring bottles in that North West corner was the mysterious Frederick Stevenson (the winemaking alias of Steve Crawford) - and I've been a fan of his wine ever since.
I thought I'd ask Steve's thoughts on red wine and beyond, and thankfully he was happy to answer a few questions!
You seem to have a bit of a thing for Italian red varieties (with releases of Sangiovese, Dolcetto & Montepulciano). What do you love about working with these Italian red varieties?
I'm currently in Italy. When working and travelling abroad I have spent a much more time in Italy than other countries like France, Spain & Germany. I think I was initially drawn to Italian red varieties as they were less fruit driven with more tannin, spice and can have less “brilliant” colour. Region to region varieties change as does their food - there’s always new discoveries to be found. Also, I really feel that Italian varieties are well suited to our hot & dry climate that we have in South Australia, perhaps more so than some of the varieties planted en mass in various growing regions in South Australia. Sangiovese is generally picked right at the end of the growing season in the Adelaide Hills and similarly Montepulciano in Eden Valley -> this is always when the nights have started to cool down from summer / early autumn and the days are sunny but less hot…. This all leads to nice acid retention and more interesting fruit characters. But also - Italian food its quite good….. goes very well with their wine.
What do you find to be either/both the most challenging/rewarding aspect of working with red wine grapes?
Ha - I do like whites too. Finding balance is always interesting whether it be a vintage like the last few years where the season has slowly evolved over a cooler summer, or when its a hot & dry vintage like 2019 & 20. I always look for a degree of tannin “ripeness” whilst trying to retain fresh acidity - sometimes there has to be compromise. In hot vintages decisions need to be made quickly, cooler vintages perhaps decisions can be made too quickly. From there the winemaking corresponds to the condition of the grapes…. Sometimes deciding when to press the grapes away from the skins can be agonising. With most white wines you get an idea of where the wine is heading within a month or so, with reds I find you start to see its potential in the following spring - it can be nervous waiting but its always nice to see the wines relax and open up.
Is there a red grape variety that you haven't worked with before that you'd love to try working with?
What (wine/other) have you been enjoying drinking recently?
We’ve just done a quick trip through the hills of Campania - above Naples… its an amazing looking region, we met some great small producers of Greco di Tufo & Taurasi Aglianico.
What music have you been listening to recently?
Radio Italia! Of late - Andy Schauf, Joep Beving, Surprise Chef & SO.crates.
It was great to get Steve's thoughts on all of that, so it's time to take a closer look at a couple of bottles, including the new Frederick Stevenson Sangiovese:
The 2021 Frederick Stevenson Sangiovese is an absolute cracker, and Steve describes it as having "Cherries, spiced plums, dried rose petals, balsamic strawberries and drying tannin with a nice easy out to fresh acid and slight tea and tobacco notes".
The 2020 Matias Riccitelli 'Hey Malbec' is a deeply coloured gem with dark cherry, blueberry and liquorice flavours and a very satisfying herb and spice character. A beauty from the amazing Matias Riccitelli from Argentina.
In honour of these two delicious reds, we've come up with a pack and added an appropriate third bottle:
Introducing the Sipping In A Winter Wonderland Pack. When Steve mentioned Aglianico from Campania, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to make a pack with the wonderful Aglianico from the Irpinia sub-region of Campania made by Ciro Picariello. It's full of dark fruit and feels both fresh and deep with a solid tannin structure, and lively acidity holding it all together. A worthy trilogy of bottles for a winter's evening.
Well, this was fun and it's still winter for a few more months so plenty of time left to enjoy some Winter Warmers. That's it for this time, Juiceheads, so watch out for the next edition of Hump Day Hero coming your way before the end of July! xx