Big, Bold, Reds We Love | Ontario Culinary
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Big, Bold, Reds We Love

Everyone who knows anything about wine knows Ontario makes amazing cool climate whites and superb sparklers. We’ve got that game in the bag; but what about our reds?

Sure, our climate and short growing season — blink and you’ll miss it — are known for producing some light Pinots and Bacos. It wasn’t until recently though, that there were only a handful of creative wine makers doing cool things with big Cabs, Merlots, and Syrah.


The rising temperatures of the last five years have allowed a number of outstanding reds grace our tables like never before. Sure we could chalk this up to global warming, ice caps melting and the like– but we can’t ignore the increasingly more resourceful group of winemakers in this province making these wines.

Our favorite home grown big reds come from Niagara, where the vines are protected by warm air getting trapped off the lake under the escarpment. Pick them up on their home turf in Niagara, or if you’re lucky, the vintages section of your local LCBO.

bigheadredBig Head Red

Big Head Wines

At the helm of this fledgling winery is Andrzej Lipinski, a Niagara wine veteran. He’s embracing the art of drying grapes to concentrate the flavour, in the Appassimento style. His bistro bottle, Big Head Red, is a lofty blend of Cab Franc and Syrah is rounded out by a bit of Cab Sauv and Petit Verdot. It’s got notes of red berries for sure, but it’s the spicy, smokey notes we’re hooked on.

Get it at the winery.
304 Hunter Rd, Niagara-on-the-Lake

 lockstockLock, Stock & Barrel

Rosewood Estates Winery

The 2013 vintage is a serendipitous example of a great, big, Beamsville Bench red. The warm weather really elevated the grapes in this bottle and brought out some delightful bing cherry, black currant and cooked plum aromas. Those are layered with spice and cedar.  It’s a big wine with a big story — one the Romans are always happy to share when you visit!

Get it at the winery.
4352 Mountainview Rd, Beamsville

triompheTriomphe Cabernet Sauvignon

Southbrook Estates

Don’t let the fact that it’s available in over 200 Vintages sections across the province fool you. With 18 months of bottle age, Southbrook’s 2013 Triomphe Cab Sauv is hitting its stride right now. This wine is big on the fruit flavours and lingers longer than your last dinner guest.

Get it at the LCBO or at the winery.
581 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-On-The-Lake


Ravine Vineyard
St. Davids

You wouldn’t think Merlot couldn’t grow in Ontario, but with new technology like wind mills, and diligent keepers, it can be done in small batches. Enter Ravine Vineyard’s Merlot. A beautiful and vivacious blend of black berry, red licorice and warm vanilla cake aromas. It deserves every accolade it’s won this year!

Get it at the winery.
1376 York Rd, St. Davids

13thstreet2013 Gamay Noir

13th Street Winery
St. Catharines

This is a surprisingly luscious wine, considering it’s 100% stainless steel fermented and aged. The 2013 vintage was exceptionally high yielding, giving the wine makers room to play — and it shows. We’d give this one a year in the cellar for an even lovelier pour.

Get it at the winery.
1776 Fourth Ave., St. Catharines

stratusStratus Syrah

Stratus Vineyards

Stratus grows 11 varieties of red wine grapes in its vineyard, but the Syrah has been doing particularly well in recent years. The 2012 vintage was harvested in latest days of October giving this wine big sugars and grippy tannins.

It’s a slow drinking wine, one you want to linger over.

Get it at the winery.
2059 Niagara Stone Rd, Niagara-on-the-Lake

Any or all of these bold, and dare we say, forward, wines would make a great addition to your holiday table! Whether it’s a pot roast or a prime rib you’re serving, explore the luscious new world of Ontario red wines this season!