Cupid’s got a dilemma. He knows his arrow will pierce the man in the relationship’s heart, hypnotize him to hunt and gather the finest chocolate and sweet-smelling roses that money can buy. But what about the other, more feminine half? They just might not feel the same V-Day pressure. Besides, beyond the cliché, what exactly or specifically is the appropriate gift for Valentine’s Day?
Even divas fuss over the pink holiday. Nicki Minaj has told us that Cupid’s Got a Gun. Carrie Underwood’s version is a shotgun. Yikes. If you ask me, all I really want this Thursday, like any other day of the year, is a decent bottle of wine. Is that not what every man wants? Matches the profile of the ones I hang out with. Your man probably likes Italian wine. Maybe he imagines himself Romeo to your Juliet?
While it would certainly put a smile on my face, I’m not holding my breath for a ripe, rare and bleeding Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (24190, $74.95, 91), though I wouldn’t kick one out of bed for cacophonous quacking. Nor would I run away from a classic, opaque and rustic cherry Altesino Brunello Di Montalcino 2007 (994095, $57.95, 91). Here are six current and affordable releases sure to please the love of your life.
The grapes: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
The history: Classic varietals and small lots from winemaker Emma Garner on the Beamsville Bench
The lowdown: TB’s Rieslings have long been blowing my mind but this Bordeaux-styled blend trips new light
The food match: Dry-Rubbed Grilled Chicken Breast Tacos, aged whited cheddar, tomato
Thirty Bench Red 2010 (320986, $24.00) shows off the ripeness of the vintage at an indubitably balanced 13.6% ABV. Exhibits red licorice, funk of the earth and currants in a demi-glace kind of way. Beamsville sand and gravel meet savoury herbs, lashed together by dusty tannin. Quite serious, more IGT than Bordeaux or Loire. 88 @ThirtyBench
The grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot
The history: Left Bank, Haut-Médoc Cabernet Sauvignon dominated Bordeaux blend
The lowdown: So unclassified you’ve likely never heard of it but so what?
The food match: Grilled Beef and Veal Baseballs, roasted garlic, parsley, artichoke aioli
Château Fort-Lignac 2009 (307264, $17.95) gives plum pudding heaped with baking spice and even a note of fine cigar. Judicious wood adds espresso, chew and chalk to this unassuming red. Lots of Bordeaux for $18. 89
The grape: Syrah
The history: Delas Frères is one of the smaller Rhone négociants but their recent run is nothing less than remarkable
The lowdown: Crozes-Hermitage at this price is so often thin and metallic but this ultra-modern ’10 is a hit
The food match: Lamb- and Rose-Stuffed Quails
Delas Frères Les Launes Crozes-Hermitage 2010 (701359, $20.95, B.C., 174664, $24.99, 2009) like hipster coffee dislikes authority and marches to the beat of a different drummer. Understated Syrah black pitch and no smoked meat or confit here. Instead there is purple, floral heliotrope gorgeousness and plum fruit. Big mineral component too. This one’s for the masculine gifter and the feminine giftee. 90 @HHDImports_Wine
The grape: Sangiovese (Prugnolo Gentile)
The history: From Montepulciano in Tuscany’s south
The lowdown: Bar none the best and most consistent value in Vino Nobile
The food match: Roast Beef Tenderloin, fried Tuscan potatoes
Poliziano Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano 2009 (988055, $25.95, SAQ, 11194832, $26.20) is blessed with such a lush texture and post-modern attraction that a couple of sips could lead to some serious heavy petting. Retains just enough Italianate, gamey, iron mineral qualities to keep it real but this is berry, chocolate, acqua vitae equipped to reach many, many folk. Best VNM for the buck, year in and year out. 90 @Noble_Estates
The grape: Nebbiolo
The history: From Diano d’Alba and Rodello in Piedmont’s Lower Langhe, characterized by vines and cereals
The lowdown: From third generation proprietor Mario Giribaldi, farmer at heart, lover of all things Langhe
The food match: Frico (cheese crisp) with Potato, Onion and Sausage Filling
Giribaldi Barbaresco 2006 (101147, $31.95) the dichotomous Nebbiolo of live rust looks old, as though it has lived hard when it’s actually quite young at heart. Classic Barbaresco bouquet of rose, tar, peeled orange and pepper berries. Banging acidity, coffee vapor and a powder finger of tannin. Don’t worry, there’s no real fear that this one “would fade away so young.” 91
The grapes: Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malvasia Nero
The history: Dates back to 1972, from Gaiole in Chianti, in the province of Siena
The lowdown: Self-described as “a place of cultic importance in the wine world.” Works for me
The food match: Bucatini with Pancetta, Tomato and Onion
Castello Di Ama Chianti Classico Riserva 2008 (39768, $34.95, SAQ, 11315403, $33.75) is always top quality CCR. So sweet and savoury at the same time, licorice whipped, tightly wound, with a foot marching to the future, yet still traditional. A righteous, sinless song of Sangiovese fruit, with a backing band of varietals, written for everyone. Proof that while some in Chianti have forgotten their past, many have not. “Somebody said it’s different now, look, it’s just the same.” 91 @CastellodiAma
Good to go!