Published on October 26, 2022
Harvests are occurring all over Europe, what should we be drinking this Autumn?
Well, our long and hot summer is finally over, and we are moving toward the longer and cooler nights of autumn where our thoughts, or at our wine thoughts, move from crisp whites and light fragrant reds to more full-bodied red wines. With that in mind I often look to wines which comes from warmer climates where the energy of the sun brings ripeness and richness and deep fruit to the grapes and wines.
So, why not bring the comfort and warmth of the Mediterranean into your wines by looking at a range of reds from Italy? These wines have the generosity to see off the chills of Autumn and Winter blues and partner the typically heavier dishes that the seasons demand.
Southern Italy has two prime producing areas, Puglia and Sicily. Both regions have really interesting grapes and unique styles. My choice varieties would be the Primitivo from Puglia and the Nero d’Avola from Sicily. The wines will be rich with dark fruits, spice and hints of smoke and cedar.
The Lirica, Primitivo di Manduria from Puglia has a dark hue, dense with fruit and velvet tannins, offers wild strawberry, prune and fig flavours with a warm finish and a hug of vinous pleasure. It is loved by those looking for a weighty wine to partner with rich meaty stews and slow cooked meats heavy with gravy, herbs and unctuousness. The Sicilian wine of choice, the U Passimiento, made predominantly from Nero d’Avola, has a more mid-weight feel but is full of flavours of morello cherry, mocha, and black berries with silky tannins and a ripe fruit, almost sweet-edged finish. Known as U Pass, it is eminently drinkable on its own but will partner with cheeses, red meats and pasta dishes. Oh, both regions have a great tradition for dishes made from slow roasted vegetables such a tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and garlic or hearty bean stews, so these wines will quite happily sit alongside these types of food.
Moving to the north of the country we find two beautiful reds. The north generally offers red wines with a touch more acidity, which is terrific for food pairing, and tannins, again great for texture and food pairing. Two wines to enjoy in the autumn are the NeroPasso, a unique blend of Valpolicella grapes with Cabernet Sauvignon and the Tenuta Olim Bauda’s Nizza DOCG.
The NeroPasso really over delivers with plentiful red and black cherry fruit typical of Valpolicella supported by a backbone of Cabernet blackcurrant fruit. The Cabernet tannins give a structure for the fruit to dance around and the passimento, over-ripening or drying, method of production means a full bodied style of wine is created. Again, a great partner for richer pasta or risotto dishes. The Nizza DOCG, a fairly recent Denominazione, is made from 100% Barbera grapes from only 8 villages in the Asti region. The grapes are harvest at low yields so as to ensure depth of fruit and are generally picked later to ensure ripe tannins and fruit. This is the Barbera grape like you’ve never tasted before. It is a wine aged in oak so has smoke and cedar notes alongside dark cherry, mulberry, incense, herb and spice. If you love Amarone you will love this wine as it has great weight and depth. A fine wine by any standard and a superb partner for red meats, grilled or roasted, especially game such as venison or wild boar. It is a treat and comes at a starry price but it is a starry wine.
So, this autumn it will be Italian reds for me; they’re not in the FIFA World Cup but the wine are world class.
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About the author
Clive Barlow, Master of Wine
Clive Barlow MW started his wine career when working at the vineyard in Hampshire’s New Forest in the late 1980s. His belief is that wine is made to be shared and enjoyed, not to be pontificated over. Wine is a drink that people enjoy at home as well as in bars and restaurants all over the world. Now, more than ever, we need good wine to share and bring people together.