The clocks have gone back, Halloween is out of the way, and once bonfire night is past, there’s not much to look forward to during this last month of autumn except more damp and cold.
And yet, for those of a melancholy bent, those who can see in nature’s riotous panoply of autumnal russet, gold and burnt ochre hues a last hurrah before inevitable decline and decay set in, for those of us in whom the season brings about a sense of introspection and melancholy, late autumn is a stirring, moving, soulful time of the year – a season for Romantic Poets and armchair philosophers alike.
The Romantic or Philosophical amongst us, then, must choose wines and food that feed the melancholy of our souls and speak to our inner wistfulness through their aromas and flavours.
If wine is poetry bottled, then there are few more poetic terroirs than Burgundy whose indulgent, decadent, hedonistic oenology and gastronomy convey a sense of autumnal decay perhaps like no other, and so we start with a white Burgundy.
Macon-Bussieres Dom du Vieux Puits 2008, Domaine Drouin, Maconnais, Burgundy – £12.99 Cambridge Wine Merchants
Made from old vines, the nose is toasty with hints of tropical fruit, white flowers and vanilla.
On the palate, there is ripe pear fruit and rounded acidity; the wine feels full and rich from aging in mainly large, old oak barrels with 25% new oak for a hint of toasty vanilla sweetness, whilst time spent on the lees gives a savouriness to the finish.
Neither a blockbuster New World Chardie nor a tropically fruity unoaked version, this is a classic food wine to match with straightforward dishes like plain roast chicken and lighter game such as partridge and quail.
Alternately, match with pasta and wild mushrooms in a creamy sauce.
Tenuta Monticello ‘Operetta’ Rosso delle Venezie IGT – £8.99 Noel Young Wines
A Ripasso-style wine made from 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% of the grapes are ‘appassimento’- dried in small crates in a drying room, with the two parts of the wine vinified seperately and then aged 12 months in French and American oak barriques.
The nose is full of blackcurrant and elderberry aromas with a hint of prunes, cherries, spice and a mushroomy woodsiness. On the palate, there is concentrated fruit sweetness, more elderberry fruit, liquorice, vanilla musk and a sour cherry acidity with soft tannins.
Match with either roast lamb or darker game, such as pigeon or pheasant.
Pinna Fidelis, Roble 2009, Ribera del Duero, £7.99 Bacchanalia
From Spain’s prestigious Ribera del Duero region, this one has a big nose of bramble fruit, tarriness, liquorice, loganberries and vanilla spice with a touch of funky, vegetal forest floor.
The palate feels full, soft and sweet with velvety dark berry and prune fruit, mintiness, vanilla and dark spice, whilst there is plenty of lively sour-cherry acidity.
On the finish, there is more mintiness and some gentle grip.
With air, the decaying, vegetal aromas and sour cherry acidity become more pronounced giving this a Pinot-esque feel; match, therefore, with typical Pinot Noir food such as pheasant, duck and other dark game or meaty casseroles with some clove spice.
These are all good wines, but this month’s winner is the Macon-Bussieres from Cambridge Wine Merchants on a number of counts – the most classical, it matches well with the kind of seasonal autumnal food that brings to mind images of rooting for truffles in the mist and half-darkness.
But more than that, should we find a day this month when the sun shines and the temperatures rise to moderately warm, we need a white wine, albeit a Big White, to match with lighter game or creamy pasta with wild mushrooms and truffles and leaven our diet of Hearty, Spicy Reds, bringing a life-affirming touch of levity, the freshness of a morning mist and the golden hue of a turning leaf.
Bacchanalia – http://www.winegod.co.uk/
Cambridge Wine Merchants – http://www.cambridgewine.com/
Noel Young Wines – http://www.nywines.co.uk/
Copyright Tom Lewis 2011
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