ALISTAIR GIBSON: Some fine wines from warmer climes
Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth.
I constantly have to pinch myself that I live not 10 miles from one of the most exciting wine regions in the world right now. How did that happen?
However, when I spent the day harvesting chardonnay at Hambledon Vineyard, it was cold and it was raining.
I was reminded just how difficult it is to make wine in our marginal climate and how, without doubt, you really have to love what you do to make it work.
The good news is that the 2016 vintage is looking to be a very good one, albeit with a much-reduced crop.
While picking, I also got to thinking about how much more pleasant picking might be on a sunny day in a warm climate.
So, here are some wines from warmer climes to taste on a damp English autumn day.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Penfolds, the wine producer who probably did more to put Australian wine on the map than any other.
At the very top end their wines are some of the southern hemisphere’s finest.
Penfolds Bin 8 Cabernet Shiraz 2013, South Australia (Waitrose £19.99 but on offer £14.99 until November 1) is a wonderful expression of that classic Aussie red blend of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz.
What’s really interesting about this wine is that it is aged in older oak barrels that have been used for other Penfolds wines, notably Bin 28, Bin 128 and Bin 389 – hence the 8 is the common theme.
There is lots of colour here and a nose of blackcurrant, blackberry, exotic spices, chocolate and vanilla, before a silky palate with more dark fruit and spice and a long finish.
This is one of those wines that is really undervalued, especially on offer, and would make a great partner to a rib of beef.
The south of France is another region where the sun almost constantly shines, and here is a pair of wines from Corbières that I really liked this week.
Chateau Haut Gléon Blanc 2014, Corbières (Hennings Wine £19.99) is blend of 60 per cent roussanne and 40 per cent grenache blanc.
It is so much more interesting than so many southern French whites made from international grapes such as chardonnay and sauvignon blanc.
There is pear, quince, honeysuckle, orange blossom and cinnamon spice on the nose, followed by a lovely textured palate with some richness and a really intense finish.
It is a gorgeous wine to go with firm-textured fish.
The red partner to this wine is Chateau Haut Gléon Rouge 2013, Corbières (Hennings Wine £18.99) which is a blend of 60 per cent grenache, 25 per cent syrah, and 15 per cent carignan.
It is very deeply-coloured with that tell-tale southern French bouquet of dried herbs as well as dark fruit, spice, roasted coffee and some cocoa.
Medium to full-bodied, the tannins are there but quite mellow, and it remains remarkably fresh on the finish.
Match this with some duck or a slow-cooked casserole and let the sun shine.