November brings bonfire night – a smokey, spicy, chilly celebration of fireworks, oohs and aaahs.Â It is also the month of Remembrance Day and Movember.
The wines from our regular Cambridge merchants are, like many a fuzzyÂ upper lip,Â 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 (Â£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 (Â£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 DiamantÂ 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 savourinessÂ – classy and elegant, if perhaps a little lacking in concentration.
Match with roast beef dinners and hearty stews.
Sottano Malbec 2012, Argentina (Â£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 – (Â£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 -Â 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 -Â 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 ChÃ©nas CuvÃ©e Tradition (Â£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 andÂ cinnamon spice. Elegant and precise with good, food-friendly sour-cherry acidity, lovely tannins and good finish.
Match with lighter gameÂ such as duck, partridge or a game casserole.
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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