Wine with autumn fruits
The past 20 years or so has seen a radical shake-up in the world of wine. As developments in communications and travel have shrunk the world, countries who once produced local wines for local consumption have become players on the world stage. We have seen waves of "new" wines, from Australia, Chile, Argentina and the rest. This month's wines reflect that diversity and "globalisation" of wine, particularly for "international" grape varieties like chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. Even France has got in on this cross-cultural act, with a whole new classification of wines, the "Vins de pays" created in the '70's. This allows the "international" grapes to be grown and made into wine in areas where such production would previously have be banned.
This month's recommendations reflect this diversity in wine-making. They also share a profile that makes them suitable for drinking with savoury dishes that use autumn fruits: juicy berries, nutty Cox's Pippin apples and ripe plums. Whether these are used in sauces to accompany games, beef or pork, or as used to garnish the dish, they should present few wine-matching problems unless the sauce is very sharp. All the wines recommended below - both red and white - share a theme of being fruit-driven and easy to drink which should make them suitable partners.
If the fruits are used in desserts, most sweet wines will be suitable. Apple desserts are sensational with sweet Chenin Blanc, such as the Moelleux wines of Vouvray or, in particular, the fabulous wines of Coteaux du Layon. UK stockist and prices in pounds sterling (approx £5=$8US)
Garden Valley Chardonnay 1998
This lovely Chardonnay comes from the Loire Valley. It is a "Vin de Pays", not . It has sappy, honeysuckle aromas with notes of pear and melon. On the palate it is nice and fresh, with good acidity, a creamy mouthfeel and plenty of fruit. A very nice savoury example to enjoy on its own or with food. (Victoria Wine, Thersher £4.49)
Hilltop Gewurztraminer 1997
This Hungarian wine has quite a grassy, fresh nose with developing aromas of lychee and tropical fruit. The palate is spicy and full-flavoured, with plenty of alcohol and body to match against even spicy foods. (Victoria Wine, Thersher £4.69)
Yarra Valley Hills Sauvignon/Semillon 1998
This Australian wine has a pungent, leafy nose that is reminiscent of nettles and gooseberries with a hint of over-ripe melon. It is really quite rich on the palate, full-bodied with pure fruit flavours of pear and melon, with a vibrant streak of lime acidity in the long finish. (Oddbins £7.99)
Canepa Zinfandel 1997
This Chilean wine is dense and dark, with an earthy, spicy nose and nuances of charcoal and leather. The palate displays flavours of brambles and sour plums with a robust, peppery quality in the finish. (Sainsbury £4.99)
D'Arenberg "Darry's Original" 1996
This blend of shiraz and mourvedre comes from what is arguably Australia's hottest producer, d'Arenberg. It has a juicy, super-ripe nose of sweet cherry jam, vanilla and cinnamon. The palate is quite firm, with blueberry fruit, big mouth-drying tannins and well judged lemony acidity. (Oddbins £6.99)
Kingston Estate Merlot 1997
This Australian wine has lush chocolate and plum depth on the nose with hints of tobacco, vanilla, and brighter cherry notes. The palate is rich, deep and flavourful, though firm, slightly green tannins keep it fresh into a long finish. (Peckhams £7.49)