- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Grant Burge, Shiraz, Barossa Valley, 2006, $20

When it’s cold outside, people tend to want warm, comfort foods and hearty, full-bodied red wines. Many vigorous reds, however, come with plentiful tannins, making them too tough and astringent to pair with soothing soups, stews or other cold-weather fare.

The best wines to complement these dishes need to taste substantial but feel soft and succulent. A good place to look for them is the Barossa Valley in south Australia, where shiraz frequently comes in this style.

Barossa summers are hot and dry, so grapes there ripen quickly. The resulting wines tend to taste concentrated and rich but also round and inviting. Though some examples can seem almost too ripe, balanced wines offer a truly comforting combination of full flavor and satisfying smoothness.

Grant Burge, a fifth-generation Barossa vintner, fashions consistently harmonious wines from shiraz. The youthful 2006 tastes round but ripe, with a core of dark cherry fruit and sweet chocolate and vanilla-tinged undertones. This time of year, they’ll be drinking it around the barbie Down Under. Up here, though, a glass or two on a cold evening will provide needed solace as temperatures plunge and winter winds howl.

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