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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

what to

drink now

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 monk„sh.

Loire Reds

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.

Red Burgundy

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

co”ee 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.

Priorat

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 Di†erence 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

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