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wine Argentine Chardonnay
Malbec is of course Argentina's trump card,
but even the most ardent steak-muncher
will admit one cannot drink red wine all the
time. The country does have the distinctive
Torrontés, but the grape currently enjoying
the most success in Mendoza and beyond
is Chardonnay. The search for higher, cooler
vineyards is resulting in some very promising
wines, especially in the Uco Valley, the region
from which these two hail.
Tapiz Chardonnay 2013, Mendoza,
Argentina (£11, thegoodwineshop.co.uk)
There's a touch of oak in the form of slightly
creamy oatmeal hints, but it's the fresh
apple and citrus, and richer peach and guava
avours, taking centre stage. Great for goats'
cheese and a warm mackerel salad, but it's
still on the young side and is all the better for
being opened an hour before serving.
Doña Paula Chardonnay 2011, Mendoza,
Argentina (£14.03, thedrinkshop.com)
A good mix of rich and restrained, with some
It may feel like winter proper, but there's a brief, awkward
�ing with autumn to be had �rst, aided by warming reds
and textured whites suitable for both the fading evening
sunshine and holing up indoors WORDS SIMON WOODS
toasty, nutty edges from oak, and eshy
passion fruit and pineapple avours reined
in by zesty acidity. Lovely texture, and would
make a great partner for monksh.
Cabernet Franc-based reds from the Loire
Valley are often damned with faint praise as
light and refreshing 'summer reds'. Today's
wines however have a little more matière
- or 'grunt', as the Aussies say - than in the
past, and while they still have that fresh
blackcurrant purity that makes them so
appetising, they also make excellent (and
usually cheaper) alternatives to Bordeaux.
Serge et Bruno Sourdais Chinon
'La Bouchardière' 2014, Loire, France
(£7.86, Lay Wheeler)
There's the classic crunchy blackcurrant
freshness here, young and juicy with an
earthy coolness and enough tannin on the
nish to make it a good partner for steak.
Or a classy burger.
Filliatreau Saumur Champigny 'La Grande
Vignolle' 2013, Loire, France
(£12.95, Yapp Brothers)
A gentler, spicier style than the Chinon, with
hints of leafy fresh tobacco, and a touch
of strawberry alongside the more familiar
blackcurrant. A really charming style, light
but persistent, that would be great with
subtle game dishes.
Good news, bad news and more good news.
Red Burgundy has never been better: the
combination of warmer weather with
improved standards in both the vineyards
and the cellar means shoddy wine is now
the exception rather than the rule. However,
enthusiasm has grown and as a result, those
from the top vineyards are now beyond the
reach of most. But don't despair - it also
means there's plenty from more humble
origins still delivering the authentic Burgundy
allure, such as these two rabbit-friendly reds.
Albert Bichot Chorey-les-Beaune 2011,
Burgundy, France (£17.50, Oddbins)
Pale in colour but full of avour, with the
coee overtone found in many wines from
around Beaune. Give it a couple of hours in a
decanter to open up and the soft berry and
red cherry fruit emerges, along with a wilder,
almost gamey character, while the nish is
spicy but sprightly.
Paul Pillot Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2012,
Burgundy, France (£11.70, Justerini Brooks)
From a domaine better known for its whites,
this is still a ne young Pinot, generous and
vibrant, with a light peppery edge to its red
berry avours. The chewiness on the nish
means those who can resist for another
couple of years won't be disappointed.
It's close to 30 years now since a small
group of mavericks began to turn the
sleepy region of Priorat in Catalonia on its
head. To supplement the ancient vineyards
of Garnacha and Cariñena, they planted
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah in
the slate-rich llicorella soil, and added their
winemaking know-how. The combination
of intensity and fragrance established
Priorat as one of Spain's nest wine regions.
The number of wineries has soared, and
while sometimes the wines have veered
towards the overripe and top-heavy, there
are welcome signs producers have realised
power isn't everything. These two provide
eloquent evidence of that.
Frares Priorat 2013, Catalunya, Spain
(£13, Marks Spencer)
Weighing in at 15% alcohol, there's a lightly
jammy edge to the succulent dark berry,
plum and damson avours, but also a wild
freshness to balance, plus a warm dusty
character that keeps you coming back for
more. Dangerously drinkable, especially
with some old Gouda.
Taste The Dierence Priorat 2011,
Catalunya, Spain (£10, Sainsbury's)
A more developed style of Priorat, with a
mature g and raisin character alongside
the fresher blackcurrant and damson esh,
plus savoury, herby notes to add further
interest. For chilly nights and cassoulet.
The American poet William
Cullen Bryant described
autumn as 'the year's last,
loveliest smile'. Hopefully
this selection of wines will
augment that and keep
you going into winter. I've chosen two
classic French red styles, Loire Cabernet
Franc and Red Burgundy, both of which
have the freshness to revive on warmer
days and the depth of avour for when
the mercury drops. Spain's Priorat has
much to commend it for when the
nights draw in and the stews come out,
and for those last vestiges of sun, pop
the cork - or rather, twist the top - on
two lovely Argentine Chardonnays.
ILLUSTRATION: ANDREA D'AQUINO