Wine & Food

    The best autumnal wines to enjoy as the nights draw in

    9 September 2020

    2019 Tesco Finest Côtes du Rhône Villages Signargues, 14.5%vol, (£8; Tesco)

    Slightly strapped for cash and with your teens and their chums clamouring for a post-lockdown, pre-uni party? Or simply on the look-out for something to accompany the last barbecue of summer? Then look no further than this jolly red from the Tesco ‘Finest’ range. A meaty, juicy, spicy, fruit-forward blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan, it’s disarmingly drinkable and, coming from Signargues near Avignon (the most southerly of the appellation’s named villages), it’s a noticeable step up from simple Côtes du Rhône. Simply uncork, pour and enjoy.

    2019 Waitrose ‘Loved and Found’ Zweigelt Rosé, 12%vol, (£8.99; Waitrose)

    Part of Waitrose’s ‘W’ range – which explores lesser-known grape varieties from around the world – this deliciously different rosé is produced by Rudolf Rabl in Lower Austria and it has me hooked. Made from 100 per cent Zweigelt – a cross between St Laurent and Blaufrankisch that’s widely planted in Austria – it’s fresh, lively, aromatic and chock-full of wild strawberries and succulent hedgerow fruit. It’s not unlike a young, vibrant Pinot Noir and, well-chilled, it’s ideal fare for that Indian summer that I’m told is in the offing.

    2019 Santa Tresa Rina Ianca Grillo/Viognier, 13.5%vol, (£9.99; Ocado)

    We featured a lusciously tasty rosé from Santa Tresa, an ancient but forward-looking and organically-farmed estate in Vittoria, Sicily, a while back and I make no apology for shoving this example under your beak too since it’s a corker. Volcanic soil, baking hot sun and cooling breezes off the Med are perfect for producing this blend of indigenous Grillo and Viognier, best known for its role in the wines of the Rhône. Fresh, apricotty, peachy, tropical, citrusy and herbal, it’s delectably moreish and complex.

    Fonseca Terra Prima Finest Reserve Organic Port, 20%vol, (£15.95; The Whisky Exchange)

    Well, this is a darn tasty port and no mistake and the perfect way to join in the Soil Association’s current month-long celebration of all things organic. Founded in 1815, Fonseca is one of the great port houses and in launching this wine in 2002 – the first port to be made entirely from organically-grown grapes – it is also one of the most forward-looking. The wine is rich, dark, velvety, crammed with plums, damsons and prunes. I like to chill it – but only very slightly – and, best of all, it doesn’t need decanting.

    Cave de Viré, Crémant de Bourgogne Brut NV, 12%vol, (£16.80; Tanners)

    Sometimes, around 11am, say, on a trying morning , when a glass of fizz is called for, champagne can be a touch de trop and Prosecco a touch too weedy. Time, then to uncork a first class Crémant such as this from the much-lauded, century-old, Cave de Viré cooperative near Mâcon in Burgundy. A gorgeous example made in the champagne method from 85 per cent Pinot Noir and 15 per cent Gamay, it’s both toasty and citrusy with an impressively fine mousse and is as tasty as many champagne I’ve had and a heck of a lot cheaper too.

    2014 Viña Arana Gran Reserva, La Rioja Alta, 14.5%vol, (£35; Armit Wines)

    One of the most outrageously enjoyable wines I’ve had in months, this brand new release from La Rioja Alta is a glorious way with which to celebrate the winery’s 130th birthday. Produced from 94 per cent Tempranillo and 6 per cent Graciano, it was aged in oak for three years and in bottle for a further two before release. It’s unashamedly seductive with its sweet, ripe red and dark fruit, spice, herbs, vanilla and its soft, gentle tannins and long finish. Make no mistake, a claret or burgundy of this quality and this maturity would be at least twice the price.