GIBSON ON GRAPES: Warming reds for contemplation

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Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth. Here he looks at some warming winter reds.

There is no doubt the seasons have changed.

There is a chill in the air so it must be time for some warming, richer reds to contemplate over a long Sunday roast lunch.

First stop South America and some Malbec, which seems to be the current go- to red grape variety.

As is so often the case when new styles of wine come into view, it’s not all good. But when it’s good it’s the perfect match with some beef.

The first thing you notice about Kaiken ‘Ultra’ Malbec 2014, Mendoza (aitkenwines.com £12.99, winedirect.co.uk £13.95) is its incredible deep colour. This is opaque red wine.

Made from three different vineyards, this spent 12 months in French barriques, one third of which were new.

The nose is almost floral with sweet spices, dark fruit and a little coco powder, followed by more dark ripe fruits and spice in the mouth with well-integrated tannins and a very long warm finish.

Open it an hour before pouring and with a rib of beef, perfect.

Crossing over the Andes and it’s the turn of Chile’s signature red grape carmenère, a grape originally from Bordeaux but now very much at home in Chile.

Montes Alpha Carmenère 2014, Colchague (directwines.co.uk £11.95, also available amazon.co.uk) is produced by one of Chile’s most forward-thinking wineries and is a lovely example.

Made from dry farmed vineyards, with the addition of 10 per cent cabernet sauvignon, just over half the wine was aged in French oak barrels.

The wine shows dark berries, chocolate and a touch of mint.

It is really very smooth, with soft, ripe tannins and the oak is nicely judged.

It has more restraint than the malbec and would work well with a shepherd’s pie or Lancashire hotpot.

Next on to Spain and En Sus Trece Garnacha 2013, Spain (Majestic £11.99 or £9.99 as part of a mix six) is wine with a great story and definitely one for some hearty dishes.

Garnacha – or grenache as it know elsewhere – usually plays second fiddle to tempranillo in Spain but here it stands alone.

The name of the wine translates as ‘stick to your guns’, which is what winemaker Norrel Robertson decided to do when making this, having decided to declassify it outside of the Calatayud wine region rules.

I’m glad he did because this is a cracking bottle of wine for cold evenings, quite fragrant with raspberry and bramble fruit, liquorice and spice, followed by fine tannins and an earthy finish.

It’s pure and fresh, and carries its 14.5 per cent alcohol well. Try with slow roasted shoulder of pork.

From the south of France, Château Maris Les Vieilles Vignes 2104, Minervois (Waitrose £10.99 on offer at £8.24 until November 1) is made from old vine syrah bio-dynamically farmed vineyards.

It’s a lovely wine – dark fruits, spice and a touch of dried herbs before a palate that shows a great depth of flavour anda long, smooth finish.