Wine Talk

Snooth User: KMP

What's your favorite exceptionally spicy red wine?

Posted by KMP, Jan 4, 2009.

I am in search of the perfect spicy red. I had a rioja 2003 reserve once, but can't remember the maker. It was amazing. Any suggestions? I want to be able to taste the spice, not get a faint hint of it.


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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 5, 2009.


And welcome to Snooth!

I am curious as to what spice you are looking for. There are some grapes with spicy flavors, Malbec and Shiraz spring to mind. Then there is the spice of oak, which a Rioja Reserva would certainly exhibit.

In that case you might actually be looking for a combination of a certain fruit profile and the spicy tones of wood. In particular American oak as most Rioja continues to be aged in American oak. You might want to explore Australian Shiraz, where there is also significant use of American Oak coupled with a naturally spicy grape though the wines bear little resemblance to Rioja.

One thing to keep in mind is that the spice of wood tends to fade with time so you might prefer younger or more recently released wines to those with some age on them.

Happy hunting!

Reply by KMP, Jan 5, 2009.

Thanks Gregory,

I am looking for a peppery spice in particular. Do you know any particular brands of wine that would exhibit that flavor?

Thank you!

Reply by syrahlover, Jan 5, 2009.

Fontenella, a very small new winery in Napa makes a spicey (peppery) Zinfandel. On the Edge Winery, also makes a spicey zin...the 2003. Karen Culler of Culler Winery makes a spicey Syrah.

Reply by KMP, Jan 5, 2009.

I will definitely try the Syrah. Thanks a lot!

Reply by Philip James, Jan 5, 2009.


Petit Sirah is known for having a white pepper note to it. Here's one I remember being particularly peppery:

Totally different, is this Pinot Noir - im suggesting it as I remember it being very spicy and peppery.

Reply by KMP, Jan 5, 2009.


Even better. Thanks for the links. Exactly what I'm looking for-pepper! Thank you!

Reply by John E Morris, Jan 5, 2009.

Pelaverga, which often has a nice peppery note but with a relatively light body.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 5, 2009.

Hi John,

Great recommendation. I was going to include it this morning in my reply, great minds and all, but since it can be difficult to find I let it be.

But since you've added it to the roster I'll second that!

Reply by John E Morris, Jan 5, 2009.

I'm surprised at how many pop up on the shelves here in NYC, actually, and not all at the usual suspects (Astor, Chambers, etc.) A couple of years ago I found two on the shelves of a store on 7th Avenue in Park Slope. I think we are rather blessed here, though, Pelaverga-speaking.

Reply by MarioRobles, Jan 6, 2009.

Carmenere is what you want... try the Perez Cruz Ltd Edition Carmenere (any vintage) or the De Martino Single Vineyard Carmenere; both from the Maipo Valley in Chile... they both sell for around $30 ... you will not be disappointed!

Reply by Eric Guido, Jan 6, 2009.

Ridge, Paso Robles Zinfandel. I think 2005 is the one I'm thinking about. Really spicy and a very wild and attractive wine.

Reply by Mark Angelillo, Jan 6, 2009.

I searched for spicy in my wines on Snooth -- looks like we had a cabernet at a recent Snooth wine friday that we all seemed to think carried some spice. Reasonably priced and I remember enjoying!

Reply by ttutony, Jan 6, 2009.

I had a 2005 Cotes du Rhone from Saint Cosme recently that had quite a bit of peppery spice, and for only about $12 if I remember correctly.

Reply by Derek67, Jan 7, 2009.

Any zinfandel from Unti, Preson of Dry Creek or Sunce.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 7, 2009.

Nice suggestions folks!

Love to see them keep coming!

Reply by fibo86, Jan 7, 2009.

Well here's a few from Australia
- Annies lane- Clare valley S.A- Shiraz,
-Barossa Valley Estate- E&E black peper shiraz-Barossa valley(S.A) -Shiraz,
-Bleasdale-Bremview (shiraz)-Langhorne creek S.A-Shiraz,
-Cape Mentelle-Margret River (W.A)-Shiraz
-Cassagrain (Stone circle)- Hastings (Vic)- Chamboucin
-D'Arenberg - Peppermint paddock (McLarenvale)- Sparkling Chamboucin
Not too sure what's avalible to you but if you want the pepper these are a few from just a few regions Down under (Aus)

Reply by Philip James, Jan 8, 2009.

Lots of Syrah (unsurprisingly) in this list - I think this will dovetail nicely into the Snooth GTI Tasting of Syrah:

Reply by jameshull, Jan 10, 2009.

Seghesio Zinfandel 2006 (no. 10 on WS top 100 of 2008) - wonderfully spicy... only $22... get it while it lasts!

Reply by GregT, Jan 12, 2009.

KMP - if I read you correctly, the Australians have identified specific molecules that cause that peppery flavor. I think what happens is that in certain circumstances, the flavor is expressed and in my experience, the wines usually come from ares that are cool for the particular grape. So syrah from Austria, for example, is more likely to express that flavor than shiraz from Australia, although there are in fact some Aussie shirazes that very clearly have the pepper. Victoria Cliff, for example, And it's not only in syrah - you can find it sometimes in langrein, and in good blaufrankish, among other wines.

Spice however, is not the same as the black or white pepper. Many garnacha based wines from the south of France or Spain can exhibit that, as well as the occasional cab franc and even zin. In the best cases, it's from the grape but sometimes, as Greg DP said, it's from the oak - usually that's more like cloves and sandalwood.

The green pepper, or vegetal flavor, is entirely unrelated and comes from a lack of adequate sunlight, which is why you get it from Bordeaux varietals from less-sunny areas, e.g. malbec in Bordeaux and not Mendoza.

Reply by uptownwineguy, Jan 15, 2009.

Domaine Faurmarie Coteaux du Languedoc "l'ecrit vin" - a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mouvedre and Carignan. Full of rich fruit but with a nice spicy finish.

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