JAMES Joyce said that white wine is lightning, and red wine is beefsteak. I don’t know about you, but a beefsteak in a glass is exactly what I want at this time of year. We asked some of the City’s most trusted wine experts to recommend their favourite wines for this time of year.
“Once the game season starts you want something substantial in red wine,” enthusess Alan Griffiths of wine merchant Berry Brothers. “The classic autumn wines are ones from the Rhone and Languedoc, with spicy flavours.” For a Rhone wine, he says that rather than go for the well-known Chateauneuf-du-Pape he would look to another producer close by which makes very similar wines that cost far less. The 2007 Vacqueyras Les Christins has a “deep black colour, lots of fruit and spices and liquorice to give it some character” and sells for £13.95 a bottle from Berry’s. From Languedoc Roussillon he looks to the Pic Saint Loup region – “they make some spicy interesting wines with structure” – and he recommends a Domaine l’Hortus, £11.95 a bottle.
Moving out of France and towards Spain, to Ribera del Duero to be precise, we have a Collar de Silos, made with the same tempranillo grape that they use in Rioja, “but more elegant,” says Griffiths. With a “warming strawberry flavour”, and it tastes like a lighter wine than its 14.5 per cent alcohol might suggest. £15.95 a bottle. Down in Italy and over to Piemonte Berry’s has the Langhe Nebbiolo, full of “roses and tar” and selling for £16.50. For new world fans, a wine called The Scribbler from the Barossa Valley and made by Yalumba. A combination of shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, it’s got “lovely ripeness” more “elegance” than some Aussies. £12.25.
If you are looking for something to give you a boost after work (or even at lunchtime), the lovely Planet of the Grapes wine bar in Leadenhall Market has a few suggestions. The bar’s Beans Boughton also looks towards France, and points out their Domaine Faiveley Blagny, a classic 100 per cent pinot noir burgundy, “but not like the fresh ones that you have in summer, it’s a stronger, deeper beast” at £25 – they add one a tenner to all their pieces if you want to drink it there and then in the bar.
Over in the Rhone, he recommends a Gevrey-Chambertin Domaine called Dugat-Py, £75 a bottle. In terms of clarets, he picks out a Leoville Barton second growth, £60 for an 06, going up to £85 for a 1978. Alternatively, another well-known favourite in the bar is Cos d’Estournel, and they sell a 1994 vintage for £70.
For those with a thing for the “spice box flavours” of the big new world reds, he suggests a Two Hands shiraz that sells for £40. They also have a De Bartoli shiraz on by the glass at the moment,whose “cassis flavours, luscious fruit and velvety tannins” can warm your cockles at £8 for 175m, and £9 for 250ml.
If that’s not your neck of the woods, you are sure to be within striking distance of a Corney & Barrow wherever you are in the City. Rolo Cameron of the Lime Street branch says that as autumn takes hold he tends to look for Zinfandels, Italian Chiantis and big, spicy Rioja Reservas, “or if you want something old school, then go into the Crozes Hermitages”. Specifically, he guides me towards The Gatekeeper Shiraz, a classic spicy Australian with blackcurrant and raspberry flavours that sells for £6.15 for a small glass, or £22.95 for a bottle; and a Crozes-Hermitage “Millepertuis” Guyot that sells for £28.95 a bottle, or £7.95 a glass.
Corney’s also does a big, chocolately, spicy Edmeades Mendocino Zinfandel from California, at £29.95. Back in the old world, Cameron suggests Chateau de Lamarque Cru Bourgeois Superieur 2004, yours for £34.95 the bottle. So there you go – a selection to put warmth into the coldest bones. All you need to do now is to find a nice fireside to drink them by.