As the cold weather bites,Â it's time to raid the wine cellar '“Â Alistair GibsonÂ
As I write this week's column the weather has definitely turned colder. To add insultÂ to injury my central heating decided to pack up, so it was time to raid the cellarÂ and think about some warming, big flavoured red wines to keep the chill away.Â
I actually loveÂ autumn, the chance for some hearty slow-cooked casseroles and of course the game season isÂ now in full swing soÂ it's a chance to match some wines with these cold climate flavours.
The RhÃ´ne Valley is a good place to start with its warmer climate more suited to grape varietiesÂ such as syrah and grenache.
CÃ´tes du RhÃ´ne is always one of my go-to autumnal wines but tradeÂ up a little and CÃ´tes du RhÃ´ne Villages can offer some great wines for very little extra.
CÃ´tes duÂ RhÃ´ne Villages Sainte CÃ©cile 2016, Domaine de la Berthete (Hermitage Cellars Â£9.95 on offerÂ from Â£12.25) is, without question, great value for what is in many ways a mini chÃ¢teauneuf-du-pape.
Made by husband-and-wife team Pascal and Marie-Pierre Maillet, who bought the domaine inÂ 1993, this is a blend of 50 per centÂ grenache and 50 per centÂ syrah and made in a very traditional style with noÂ new oak ageing.
Instantly appealing, with a perfumed nose which offers black fruits, dried herbs,Â some savoury notes, liquorice and some spice, followed by medium to a full-bodied palate, withÂ generous fruit and some spice before a long finish.
What I really like about this wine is itsÂ freshness and purity of fruit and it is proof, if it was needed, that the 2016 vintage in the southern RhÃ´ne really was exceptional.
Pair this with a slow-cooked lamb casserole.
Tasmania isÂ about as far from the RhÃ´ne Valley, both geographically and climate-wise, as you could get butÂ one of my surprise finds of the year so far has been Artisan Pinot Noir 2016, Tasmania (AldiÂ Â£16.99).
It has such an aromatic nose with bright dark cherry fruit, spice, and almost a touch ofÂ tea. The palate is fresh, with fine tannins, dark fruit and almost crunchy acidity.
Like the CÃ´tes duÂ RhÃ´ne Villages above, what I really love about this wine is its purity of fruit and freshness. This isÂ lovely, elegant pinot noir and bravo to Aldi for listing it.Â
Not a blockbuster in any shape or formÂ but it would be lovely with roast duck or pheasant.
RamÃ³n Bilbao,'Edicion Limitada'Â 2015, RiojaÂ (greatwesternwine.co.uk Â£14.95) is a very modern-style rioja.
This isÂ polished red wine, made from 100 per cent tempranillo and aged in American oak barrels.
The noseÂ shows black cherries and damsons with a little background clove spice and chocolate, the palateÂ is medium to full-bodied with more dark fruits and spice and some well-rounded tannins before aÂ nice elegant, long finish. AÂ perfect match with some slow-cooked lamb or a SundayÂ lunch of sirloin of beef after a long walk on a crisp morning.Â