Bring on the reds as summer fades
According to the Met Office, summer is apparently officially over, August 31 being the last day of that season. So it's time to think about autumn wines.
Personally I love the change of seasons. They bring with them seasonal foods and that means the chance to taste different wines to match.
For me autumn is a time to think about slow cooking, casseroles and stews and dishes like mushroom risotto. So here are a few autumnal wines worth seeking out.
Pinot noir and, in particular, red Burgundy, is probably a wine that instantly springs to mind. It’s sadly never cheap, but Mischief and Mayhem Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2013 (Waitrose £12.99 down from £14.99 until September 20) is a great introduction.
It was the creation of Brits Michael Ragg and Fiona Traill-Stevenson back in 2004, who had the intention of making excellent wines as well of simplifying the minefield that Burgundy can often be.
This has a lovely aromatic nose with wild strawberries, red cherry, a little spice and a touch of vanilla, followed by a silky, fruit-driven palate. It’s difficult not to enjoy it by itself, but it also goes perfectly with coq au vin or a simple roast chicken.
Bordeaux also comes into its own at this time. Château Pey la Tour Réserve 2012, Bordeaux Supérieur (Wine Society £11.50) proves there is some good value to be found in Bordeaux at this price level. This is the reserve bottling of this well-known Bordeaux estate, its merlot dominating a little cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. It has ripe blackberry and cassis, spice and background oak.
It’s medium to full-bodied with some complexity and is going to work really well with roast beef on Sunday.
Spain is also a good source of autumnal reds. Bodegas Pascual Buró 2012 Ribera del Duero (swig.co.uk £14.95) is a special vineyard selection made from 100 per cent tempranillo aged in a mixture of French and American oak for 10 months.
There’s lots going on here with dark fruits, roasted coffee and some chocolate, followed by ripe tannins and a smooth, warm finish and great length. Decant for an hour before serving then match with a slow-roasted shoulder of lamb or lamb hotpot.
Still in Spain, CVNE Reserva 2011, Rioja (Majestic £12.99 or £9.99 as part of a mixed six; Waitrose £12.99) is a little more elegant. It comprises mainly tempranillo but with a dash of some of the lesser- known Rioja varieties, garanacha, graciano and mazuelo and aged in American oak. This is textbook Rioja from one of the region’s oldest producers. There’s coffee, dark berry fruit and a touch of smoke all framed by vanilla oak. It has a long, lingering finish. It would work well with lamb or confit duck leg, or perhaps that mushroom risotto.
-Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth. Call 01243 431002