With the winter in full season at the moment, it is time to pull out bold and generous reds with sunshine spicy flavors to complement your hearty meals to  bear the dark and dreary days of the winter season.

When I think about winter reds my choice reds come from the Cotes du Rhone. This is a long area, stretching along the Rhône River for several hundred kilometers. It has been an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) since 1937. The red wines are a blend, dominated generally by the Grenache grape. There is actually a hierarchy of wines, with Côtes du Rhône Villages at the next level and more alcoholic. There are 18 separate and named village wines, such as Côtes du Rhône Villages (Visan).

When I think of this marvelous wine region in France, my thoughts turn to Michel Tardieu. He  is one of the most highly acclaimed négociants in the Rhône. He works with 60 to 70 vignerons throughout the northern and southern Rhône. Two-thirds of Michel’s production is in the southern Rhône, where his working relationships comprise 10 growers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Michel have a talent for securing long-term, hand-shake deals with vignerons who secretly guard the location of their 50- to 100-plus-year-old vines. During the course of the year, Michel regularly visits the vignerons and walks their vineyards. When harvest and fermentation are complete, the wines are racked into Michel’s barrels and aged in his cellar.

To pass the cold winter days, I propose his cuvee Guy Louis still available at the SAQ for a modest price of $27.75. SAQ Code: 10500308. It is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. The 2011 was a sunnygenerous vintage in the southern rhone. There was abundant fruit with a slight overripe note, yielding wineswith character.

Tasting note:
A winter wine. Dark ruby-purple colour with dry black fruits, herbes de provence, cocoa powder Add to that a mixture of crushed minerals with a dollop of new oak. In the mouth, full body with concentrated flavors of black licorice pastille, black cherries and dry thyme. Tannic and spicy, needs some decanting and a hunk of read meat to balance all that raw force. 90/100