There’s no denying that we are already well within the thralls of Autumn. The evenings are darkening ever-earlier and the leaves are relenting to the impending chill, and all-too-quickly Summer appears just as a fading reflection in the rear-view mirror of the year hurtling on. In these times of transition from light to shade it is not uncommon for many of us to experience SAD – Seasonal Affective Drinking, that is, for which we at JN Wine have just the remedy.
It seems as instinctively as we grasp for the coat that for the few months previous occupied only the farthest reaches of the wardrobe, so too do we clutch for the wines that promise more affirming, bounteous fruits, alongside toasty, snuggly spices and cushiony, velvety bodies. For many it is the reds that most naturally occupy this domain, with the whites principally left in the ebullient company of the rosé and bubbles that cavorted in balmy days gone past.
However, it would be remiss of us to ignore the white wines that not only possess the credentials to adequately fit this more demanding, dependable bill, but positively excel in the role. Be it through traits inherent to the grape varieties themselves or qualities adopted through the hand of the winemaker, there are numerous white wines that truly come into their own in the latter stages of the year, and promise to pair beautifully with the hearty harvest fares of game, funghi, tubers and gourds, while standing up firmly to the most robust of ragu, stew and pie.
Below is a sample of wines taken from our mixed, seasonal style cases for Autumn 2021. You can find the ‘Cosy, Full Autumn Whites’ – as well as the ‘Crisp Autumn Whites’ for those of us holding out for the last vestiges of Indian summer sunshine – available in both 6 and 12 pack formats through our website for delivery or collection and for purchase in store at our Crossgar shop now.
Viognier is perhaps the quintessential white grape for the cooler seasons. With its bountiful body, softly-edged mouthfeel and rich, floral aromas, it’s as generous and affirming a companion as one is likely to find from the white wine panoply. This particular example is made by the Lurgan-descended Cline family of California with grapes sourced from their Sonoma Coast and Carneros vineyards. Offering a rich golden hue as if radiating the California sun, this wine positively beams out of the glass with ripe peach and orange blossom aromas which follow through on the palate alongside notions of nectarine and almond butter. This wine will pair beautifully with roasted white meats as well as an array of cheeses, but for a more exotic take try matching it with a spicy chicken and apricot tagine or an equally warming butternut squash curry.
Hailing from the Cabardès AOC in the northwestern Languedoc, this 100% Chardonnay is made by Stéphanie & Olivier Ramé – the third generation of their family to farm in this promising region not far from the city of Carcassonne. ‘Préjugés’ is part of a unique range of wines that deliberately eschew the stringent appellation laws of their home region in favour of pursuing qualities beyond those simply expected of them. These Chardonnay vines are organically-farmed in the foothills of the Montagne Noire before being fermented with wild yeasts in old French oak foudre without sulphites, where they spend several months maturing before release. The result is a beautifully modern, accessible Chardonnay exhibiting yellow apple, guava and lemon zest fruit, framed by a satiny mouthfeel and a lick of vanilla from the oak. This wine will partner charmingly to fish pie or with any dishes calling for creamy sauces, owing to its gentle oak maturation.
Fiano could be considered an ‘if you know, you know’ sort of grape variety – beloved of those who have long-relished in its characterful and almost always good-value wines, or have been lucky enough to experience them in-situ in Italy’s serene and rustic South. This example from Puglia’s Michele Biancardi will not disappoint either demographic. Grown organically within a stone’s throw of the breezy Adriatic Sea, the grapes are harvested by hand and pressed whole-bunch before fermentation in stainless steel at cool temperatures to retain their bright aromatics and flavour. The outcome is a wine of voluptuous, almost waxy texture with an intense nose of Asian pear, cantaloupe and green herbs and flavours of Sicilian orange, pine and a satisfying, nutty finish. Try this unique wine with a risotto of the wild mushrooms that are just now coming into season, or equally in accompaniment to gnocchi alla bolognese or soy-glazed salmon.
Pinot Blanc, or ‘Weissburgunder’ as it’s known in Germany, is a white mutation of the more aristocratic Pinot Noir, and indeed is cousins to the ubiquitous Pinot Gris (or ‘Grigio’, as it’s most commonly branded.) This, from the stable of the idiosyncratic Dr Ernst ‘Ernie’ Loosen’s ‘Villa Wolf’ estate in Pfalz, is the result of grapes grown on sandstone soils in this relatively warm and dry region of Germany’s southwest. After a protective fermentation in steel the wine is bottled soon after, locking in its scintillating Granny Smith apple, lemon and almost nutmeg spice in the bottle, concluding with a mineral streak and piquant acidity. This wine’s spicy, appley flavours will pair surprisingly well with roast pork and pumpkin, as well as with Autumn salads and soft cheeses.
The apple tart is perhaps the quintessential autumn sweet dish. Many of us may overlook the idea of dessert wines as we grow increasingly health-conscious and sugar-wary, but this time why not open yourself to indulgence? The Pajzos Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos 2016 is made from indigenous Furmint, Hárslevelü and Sárgamuskotály (aka ‘Yellow Muscat’) grapes grown in Hungary’s historic Tokaj region at the foothills of the Zemplén Mountains. At the end of the growing season the vines are deliberately allowed to be infected with the Botrytis cinerea or ‘Noble Rot’ fungus, which pierces the skins of the grapes in the cool, misty Autumn mornings before the warm afternoon sunshine that follows halts the ‘rot’ and dries out the grapes, concentrating their sugars, acids and unique flavours. After a long, slow fermentation followed by a three-year maturation in barrel (made from oak harvested from the dense Zemplén forest above the vineyards), the amber elixir that emerges is profuse in aromas of candied tangerine, bergamot honey and intense baking spices, with barley sugar and citrus peel accompanying on the palate that is broad and unctuous yet framed by a mouthwatering laser of acidity, balancing the wine perfectly. This once-dubbed ‘King of wines and the wine of kings’ will propel even the most middling of apple tarts to regal heights!