The favourite season for many because of its clear skies, falling leaves, and excellent colour scheme. It is also the season of harvest festivals, cooling nights and cardigans, and slower-cooked dishes with more textured wines to match.
We kick off this season’s dozen with a dry Muscadet for your baked scallops, and a Sicilian white to sip while they’re baking. Two fuller whites follow, a powerful pear-laden gris and a chardonnay that punches so far above its weight class it needs to turn pro. The rosé is more autumn than summer, but still good on a hot March day. Also destined for a warm day on a long weekend is the gamay, in the esky or out, while two pinots start to make the transition to table (or couch!) with their earthy tones and more serious structure. There is the reassuring solidity of a tempranillo and plumpness of a grenache, and then the April twilight of a Yarra cabernet, dark and with a hint of fallen leaves. Finally, there is no wine more intrinsically autumnal than a nebbiolo. The very name evokes misty mornings, and the bounty of the forest – berries, truffles, and boar.
Grab a dozen and prepare for the season ahead – autumn is here, in all its beauty and melancholy. Wrap yourself up in it!
2015 Luneau-Papin La Grange Muscadet Vieilles Vignes, Loire Valley, France $26
Classic muscadet, dry and long, with extra intensity from the V.V. (old vines) and great mid-palate texture from some lees contact. A delicious partner to rich seafood, but also with the simple pastas of cucina povera.
2016 Curatolo Arini Paccamora Inzolia, Sicily, Italy $23
A reasonably obscure grape even by Italian standards, this Sicilian native offers citrus aromas and a lemon-curd balance of fruit and acid. It’s vibrant flavours make it an option for sipping while busy with something else, cooking perhaps, or reading the Sunday papers.
2018 Bass River Pinot Gris, Gippsland, Victoria $25
Filled with the fruits of the season, think pears and nectarines allied to a full and rich palate. The whole package is cleaned up with refreshing zip, a vinous reminder that whilst days are warm, evenings in south Gippsland can still be chilly.
2018 Punt Road Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Victoria $22
One of our favourite winemakers in the valley, Tim Shand, has made this with the texture, poise and polish of a wine twice the price. Full and round with a long clean finish, as comfortable taken to a mate’s for roast chicken as it would be at home with cheese and crackers. The best value wine we’ve seen in the last twelve months, we just had to include it.
2018 DeBortoli Vinoque Nebbiolo Rosé, Yarra Valley, Victoria, $27
Deriving complexity from a clonally diverse block up in Dixon’s Creek, this is a dry rosé that offers less summer-pudding and more restrained notes of orange pith and honeydew. A little lees work adds texture, complementing its chalky finish.
2016 Stephane Aviron Beaujolais-Villages, Beaujolais, France $24 (organic)
Beaujolais-Villages is a clear step up from the flatter, larger region of ‘Beaujolais’. The soils have more of the famous pink granite, and the wines more intensity than their giggle-juice counterparts further down the slope. Liquid refreshment, here we have juicy, jubey bright fruits matched to a clean line of acid and just enough grip to give frame, but not so much as to lose sight of what good Beauj is – bloody good fun!
2017 Racine Pinot Noir, Limoux, France $29 (organic)
Obscene land prices back home have forced an ambitious crop of young burgundians to cast their nets further afield. From an old plot in Limoux on the edge of the Pyrénées, Bruno Lafon makes this red-fruited gem in a very côte d’ór style, with bright acid and hints of dark earth.
2017 Provenance Golden Plains Pinot Noir, Western Victoria $30
The Western Districts are beautiful this time of year, as everything ripens and colours before harvest. This is one for the first night you fire up the heater and curl on the sofa with your favourite media on or open, a glass of red comfort to hand.
2017 Mesta Tempranillo, Castille, Spain $18 (organic)
Warm days, high altitude and avoidance of oak in the winery are key to the intensity and approachability in this wine. Vines between 700 and 1000 m mean cool autumn nights that slow ripening, leaving the impression of a tube of fruit and a touch of herb and sweet spice.
2017 Izway Blue Label Grenache, Barossa Valley, South Australia $26 (organic)
‘Frisky’ is how winemaker Craig Isbel describes this un-oaked Barossan red, with its effortless fruit weight and long fresh finish. It is the kind of thing one might like to drink getting home once the dog has chased the ball, to sip as the last light slips from the sky.
2017 Jamsheed Ilaj Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarra Valley, Victoria $22
Gary Mills made his name with shiraz, but he has done a superb job here making a Yarra Valley Claret. Cabernet’s classic dark black fruits and hint of undergrowth show through here. If you have time, decant into whatever you have on hand and watch the wine unfold.
2017 Brezza Langhe Nebbiolo, Piemonte, Italy $41 (organic)
Traditionalists Brezza own 22 ha of hazelnut groves and vineyards, and this wine comes from a single site within the commune of Barolo itself. With forest berries tinged with mushrooms, fallen leaves, and blood, they have once again made a wine worthy of this great season.
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