Of all the seasons, Autumn is perhaps my favourite – there’s something serene about witnessing nature’s changing colours, from the myriad of rustic oranges, reds and browns of the leaves, through to the crisper, frostier mornings and nights; it’s a time where we start to wrap up warm and hunker down before the colder winter months are upon us. Not only is it a time of change in nature, but also in the wine-industry as we think about autumn wines; we start to move away from the fresh, bright whites and rosés offered throughout the Summer months, and look to more robust reds and aromatic, textural whites to accommodate heartier autumnal dishes and desserts (all I’m thinking of now is a Bramley apple and blackberry crumble!), as well as cosy nights in.
Here is a selection of some of our favourite autumn wines to enjoy over the coming months – whether looking for that perfect tipple to go with a freshly baked pie with roasted root vegetables, or to simply savour after a hard day’s work.
Looking to whites, Sémillon is an often-overlooked varietal that I absolutely love. It can produce sensational whites with an abundance of citrus and tropical fruit characters, that, when lees or oak-aged can become surprisingly rich and full in style.
G Château Guiraud couldn’t be a finer example. From the renowned 1er Cru Classé estate in Sauternes. Certified organic, this blend of equal parts Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc – with lees ageing and partial oak maturation – is full of intense ripe peach, citrus and grapefruit flavours, finishing off with a long, honeyed roundness. To pair with food, I’d jump to a classic fish pie, and then to finish, baked pears smothered in honey. Fabulous!
Wildeberg White and Mount Horrocks Watervale Semillon are two superb examples from the Southern Hemisphere. The former, from a tiny estate in Franshoek, South Africa, continues to exemplify, for me, the varietal’s characters; it’s lean and bright with a core of citrus running through the mid-palate, finishing with a rounded, creaminess from a bit of oak maturation. To pair, spinach ravioli or a simple, pan-fried fish with potatoes drizzled in butter. Mount Horrocks, from Clare Valley, Australia, is gentle yet generous with distinctive lemon, apple and peach fruits layered with a fantastic nutty complexity and toasted oak finish. I always forget how good this wine is and paired with a creamy risotto or oven-roasted butternut squash, this really shines.
To keep the impending chill at bay, Autumnal reds, for me, should be heartier and warming, but not too rich; those are reserved for the colder winter months! Rioja always hits the spot; Luis Cañas Crianza (a faithful old friend) is packed full of velvety red fruits interwoven with eucalyptus and pepper, concluding with that classic spice box finish.
Portugal is another country I’d look to for my Autumnal drinking. It’s a country that is well-known for its superb hospitality and gorgeous scenery, as well as world-renowned fortified wine. Move beyond these though and you’ll find delightful dry wines, not least their reds. Look no further than the superb Quinta do Portal Colheita Tinto from the Douro valley. Laden with decadent red fruits, mocha, cocoa, and spices, it would be incredible served with braised beef and all the trimmings.
Finally, I have thrown Yalumba’s Handpicked Shiraz/Viognier into the mix. A truly magical bottle that sees a splash of white Viognier added to bring delightful aromatics and perfumed notes to the mix. This marries beautifully with Shiraz’s heady dark fruits, violets and spices. Luxurious and long on the finish it’s the perfect partner to a warming slow-cooked lamb shank.
These six autumn wines offer heaps of diversity and enjoyment to see you through the months, especially when paired with food! With that in mind, I think a glass of white Semillon is on the cards for this evening…