Charles Lea's Wine List

Wines I Like - Autumn

As the light fades earlier in the evening, and temperatures drop, we suddenly find that brighter juicier refreshing flavours no longer feel top of the list, and the deeper, rounder whites like good white Burgundy, Rhone and some Spanish wines are more what one is looking for. We have just tasted the Pouilly Fuissé 'Alliance' from Daniel Barraud alongside the 'Domaine Emilian Gillet' Viré-Clessé from Gautier Thévenet, and both are sensational in their ways - the Thévenet wine is full, unoaked, very ripe, with hints of floral honey, and a magnificent supple juicy length. The Pouilly is classic barrel-aged Mâconnais Chardonnay, a little firmer, structural, intense - a perfect foil for food.

In much the same way, the lighter Blanc de Blancs Champagnes which are so brilliantly elegant in the summer can, depending on your mood a bit too, seem a bit brittle in the winter. If you feel like this, do try Champagnes in different styles, like new discovery Gonet-Médeville, especially their 'Tradition' and 'Blanc de Noirs', as well as Barnaut Blanc de Noirs and other big, Pinot Noir-dominated blends like Bollinger, Krug, and, yes, Nyetimber Rosé. The secret is partly the grape content - Pinot Noir gives fuller flavour, but also fact that many of these are made from wines made in barrel.

For Reds too, juiciness need to give way to denser, perhaps earthier and spicer flavours. Autumn food takes a slug of tannin better too. The wines don't need to be heavy - Pinot Noir can still be magnificent with game - but wines which might have seemed clumsy in summer can really come into their own now. We are still loving Poggerino Chianti, Dei Vino Nobile, but what about a Crozes Hermitage or even a Cote Rotie, or some of the great Sicilian reds which have made their way onto our list in the last year - not to mention Chateauneuf... and I haven't even mentioned Claret yet, but if you haven't got a stash in storage with us, there is always a great selection in the shops of mature wines at all levels. All good reasons to learn to love the shortening days.

Weekend treat: Hidalgo's 'Wellington' Palo Cortado

Charles Lea
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