Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Wines for these golden moments

Is Autumn always this good? Driving through Surrey woodlands recently it has felt like someone has turned a giant golden light on, so vibrant are the autumn leaf colours. I love the warmth and light of summer, but there is something immensely appealing about the slightly melancholy slide into Autumn, with the promise (or threat) of Winter not far behind.

These are the kinds of wines that suit this turn of the seasons.

Vine leaf colours in a Surrey vineyard

White wines
Whites need more heft to do well in the cooler months. Obviously they will be drunk chilled, so must somehow communicate warmth and richness.

La Métropole Cuvée Classique 2013 - £5.99 from the Co-operative
A good value blend of Grenache Blanc, which gives weight and a herbal note, along with Macabeu, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier. There’s also a red version, mostly Grenache (Noir this time) and Syrah, which is soft and fruity.

Domaine Jones Grenache Gris 2014 - £13.30 from The Wine Society
A step up in quality, from old Grenache Gris vines in Roussillon, this has aromas of flint and pear and a rich but dry palate with a spicy finish.

Ghost Corner The Bowline 2014 - £21.50 from The Oxford Wine Company
If you haven’t tried a South African white wine for a while, you could be in for a surprise – and a treat. This blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon has a winning combination of mouth-watering citrus and stonefruit with a rich toastiness. With a name like the bowline, it also makes a perfect gift for a sailing enthusiast or former Scout.

Kleine Salze Family Reserve Chenin Blanc 2014 - £17.99 from The Wine Reserve (Cobham) and other independent merchants
It’s quince season and Chenin is the grape variety that, if sufficiently ripe and concentrated, has unmistakeable aromas of this beguiling and slightly exotic fruit. There is also honey (though it’s dry) and spice. A budget option would be Maison des Princes Chenin Blanc 2014 from the Loire (£6.99 from Waitrose).

A sea of yellow vine leaves in Alto Adige, northern Italy

Red wines
Reds come into their own now; look for warmth and spice – Syrah fits the bill perfectly.

Mas de Lunès 2012 - £12.99, or £9.74 as part of a mixed 6 from Majestic
The reds of Languedoc-Roussillon really do well in the role of warming, fireside wines. This Grenache/Syrah blend has juicy fruit, with earthy and herbal overtones.

Terre de mes Ancêtres 2014 - £5.95 from The Wine Society
This Cabernet/Merlot blend has bags of fruit and personality for the price – ripe, slightly tart fruit in an easy drinking style. This could be your Autumn house red.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Merlot 2014 - £7 from Morrison’s
Mostly Merlot with a cocktail of other varieties which gives plenty of density of fruit.

Château Maris Les Vieilles Vignes 2013 - £10.99 from Waitrose
Syrah-dominant red from Minervois that showcases the beguiling perfume and density of the variety, leavened by some lively Grenache. When in Waitrose, also look out for Paul Mas Grenache Syrah 2014 (£8.79) which is in a similar vein; and Les Domaines Auriol 2014 (£7.49), a Grenache, Syrah, Carignan blend from Corbières.

Château Caronne Ste-Gemme 2010 - £14.99/£13.49 as part of mixed 6 from Majestic; also from independents
The weight and seriousness of claret harmonise with the season – and with the kind of food that we all crave at this time of year. In a sea of Bordeaux, Caronne Ste-Gemme is one of my tried and trusted names.

M Signature Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2013 - £14 from Morrison’s
Châteauneuf for under £15 is a bit of a gamble, but this, from the user friendly 2013 vintage is a safe bet. It has characteristic richness, ripe but fresh berry fruit, depth of flavour and a tangy minerality.

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