Wine of the Month – November 2013

November brings bonfire night – a smokey, spicy, chilly celebration of fireworks, oohs and aaahs. It is also the month of Remembrance Day and Movember.

The wines from our regular Cambridge merchants are, like many a fuzzy upper lip, bigger and fuller this month – and we have not one but two guest appearances – firstly from newly-established WineTrust100, plus a welcome return from Beaujolais and Beyond.

We start, however, with an off-piste natural wine from Joseph Barnes.

Vina Almate Tempranillo 2012, VdlT Castilla y Leon (£10.50 Joseph Barnes Wines)

If brambly, vanilla Spanish Tempranillo is a style you are familiar with, don’t expect to find it in this elegant-yet-rugged natural wine.

Dark in the glass, the nose gives little away, except perhaps for a touch of dark fruit and funk.

The palate is sharp and refreshing, with pure black-cherry and dark berry fruit, an elusive savouriness and a hint of fermented fruit.

It’s a curious wine – as natural wines often are – yet strangely alluring. Intense, focused and uncompromising, this is something of a punk wine; like the mohican-ed toughs who used to hang out in my East Midlands town centre on a Saturday when I was growing up, it demands your attention and feels edgy, yet underneath the scowl, spikes and studs, it’s actually very civilised.

Match with something equally edgy – such as steak tartare. Also beetroot with cream cheese.

Domaine du Diamant Noir, Cotes du Rhone 2012 (£8.99, Cambridge Wine Merchants)

The start of autumn can be said to be heralded by opening your first Cotes du Rhone – warming, dark and spicy, it is perfectly suited to hearty stews and gamey dishes.

This Domaine du Diamant Noir from the southern Rhone is a blend of Carignan, Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault – with dark berry fruit and some spice on the nose, it has a classic, southern Rhone profile.

On the palate there is more plummy fruit, sweet peppery vanilla spice and fresh acidity with perfectly ripe tannins underpinned by grippy savouriness – classy and elegant, if perhaps a little lacking in concentration.

Match with roast beef dinners and hearty stews.

Sottano Malbec 2012, Argentina (£9.99 Noel Young Wines)

From the Llujan de Cuyo region of Argentina, where vineyard altitudes are from 800m – 1,100m giving wines with deep colour and ripeness with fresh acidity.

Malbec is Argentina’s signature grape – historically from Bordeaux, it is also grown in Cahors where it is known as Cot.

Typically quite flamboyant, if a little rustic, Malbec often feels like it needs a bit of a wash and brush-up to be acceptable in polite company – it can be a Bruce Springsteen of a wine.

This dark, seductive Sottano, however, is more of a Bryan Ferry – with dark fruit, spiciness and a chocolatey texture underpinned by a fresh acidity and good savouriness, it is well-groomed and classy.

Don’t be afraid to decant – and serve with the best Argentine beef you can find.

Bodegas Borsao, Tinto 2011, Campo de Borja, Spain – (£5.99, Wine Trust 100)

The first guest wine this month is from Wine Trust 100, a new wine retailer, set up by three local Masters of Wine – Sarah Abbott from Bedford, John Hoskins who runs The Old Bridge in Huntingdon and Nick Adams who lives in Cambridgeshire.

This Spanish Garnacha from Bodegas Borsao is a classy crowd-pleaser – with a nose of morello cherries, plummy fruit, liquorice, leather, vanilla and spice.

The palate is juicy and mouthfilling, with a lovely sour-cherry acidity, more plummy and dark berry fruit with sweet vanilla, spice and roughed-up herbs.

The texture is soft and smooth, with some gentle grip developing on the finish.

Match with darker game, such as pheasant stuffed with apricots, or spicy sausages.

2011 Chénas Cuvée Tradition (£11.50, Beaujolais and Beyond)I was so impressed with the guest Beaujolais from Beaujolais and Beyond last month that I’ve included another one this time.

This is a textbook Beaujolais cru – purple in the glass with dark berry fruit, the palate shows dark fruit and cinnamon spice. Elegant and precise with good, food-friendly sour-cherry acidity, lovely tannins and good finish.

Match with lighter game such as duck, partridge or a game casserole.

Links

Beaujolais and Beyond – website

Cambridge Wine Merchants – website

Joseph Barnes Wines – website

Noel Young Wines – website

Wine Trust 100 – website, twitter

Main image credit: https://www.makewav.es/blog/180715/bonfirenight

This article also appears on Cambridge Wine Blogger

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About Tom Lewis

Tom Lewis is a wine writer and educator from Cambridge with a particular interest in Austria and France. His comments have been published on JancisRobinson.com, Local Wine Events, as well as in the local press in his hometown of Cambridge, UK. When it comes to buying wine, Tom’s philosophy is to buy as close as possible to where it comes from. He writes a regular blog, the Cambridge Wine Blogger which launched in 2009 and is a presenter for the Cambridge Food and Wine Society. To read more of Tom’s work, please check out cambridgewineblogger.blogspot.com
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