One of the best things about Autumn for me is leaving behind summer’s rosés and going back to a big glass of red by the fire. I adore a shiraz, and if I’m buying reds, I must admit to being a bit boring and focusing on the shiraz (or syrah – New World wines tend to be called Shiraz, but as you’ll see, it’s by no means a rule). I tend to go for new world as the wines are often a bit sweeter and juicier, which I like (not SWEET, sweet, obviously).
First up is a South African wine called Higgovale Heights (Shiraz 2011). It was a last-minute grab in Tesco and went fantastically well with our steaks in pepper sauce. Apparently there’s a violet aroma in there. I just couldn’t get it though.
This next one was recommended to me by my very clever wine-buff brother and I’ve bought it ever since and loved it: Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz will set you back a bit more (about £15 in Majestic, but it’s sometimes on offer) but its deep fruity flavours (again there’s that hint of violet in there that I just can’t get – why won’t my nose work?!) are worth every penny. I know it sounds weird but I do get a hint of something ‘medicinal’ in the background of this that I love. It’s one of the few wines I reckon I could pick out of a blind tasting (maybe). Lush. Also in Waitrose at the moment is another Jim Barry wine, Clare Red Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon – it’s a gorgeous, full bodied fruity spicy hug in a glass – again it’s around the £15 mark but well, well worth it.
A big favourite of mine is Porcupine Ridge Syrah – I go back to it time and time again as it’s a real big, easy drinking red. This one often goes in the trolley if I’m in Waitrose and is currently on offer for £5.99 – bargainous as it’s usually £8. Grab a bottle or two.
Big Bro also recommends Italian Amarone wines if you’re into this sort of big red. Next on my list for tasting (when I’ve got a few quid – or I thought I might splash out for Christmas) is Amarone Ca Rose Le Arche 2008/9 recommended to me on Twitter by Oddbins. It’s another pricey one at £22 (Oddbins) but the description of it being like ‘liquid fruitcake’ has me intrigued!
I also still have my stash of Tesco Finest Cabernet Carmenere. I can’t help it. I bloody love this wine. My love is deepened by the fact that my lovely mate, Helen, she of the Knackered Mother’s Wine Club and now ALAN TITCHMARSH’S NEW WINE EXPERT!!! loves a good Carmenere too. And she should know, right?
On the downside, I tried a Sainsbury’s Winemakers’ Selection Carignan Syrah. An initial sip left me tasting blackberries – not unpleasant, but then I was left with a weirdly dry, furry mouth. On having a chat with Helen, it would seem that the furry ‘hangover mouth’ I got from it can be somewhat typical of Carignan. Better with dinner, I think.
I had a group of friends around for a little wine tasting and curry night. Here’s what we thought of some of the other big reds around this autumn:
Morrisons have been busy on the wine front recently. Following the launch of their online wine site morrisonscellar.com at the end of last year, they’re now reinventing their own brand wines. If you want to spend a bit more on a really fantastic bottle of wine, their Piccini Sasso Al Poggio £12.99 is a peppery Tuscan red that really packs a punch. We loved it.
I found the fabulous Jacktone Ranch Petite Sirah at Tesco on special offer at £5.99. Sadly now can’t find it on the shelves OR online there. It’s a big Californian red, deliciously dark and fruity and it got a unanimous YUM vote. I’ll be looking out for it from now on.
Other highlights included Asda’s Extra Special Valpolicella Ripasso £9.00 – a warm, full-bodied, fruity glassful of dark red fruity yumminess (technical term, that). If you’re looking for a bargain, also at Asda are a lovely ripe fruity The Wine Selection Corbieres £4.50 and the Busby Estate Shiraz £4.00 – both rich, fruity and blackberry-infused. And lastly, Asda’s Extra Special Barbera d’Asti, a bit more expensive at £8.00 – is full-bodied but also oaky. Yum.
Many thanks to my loyal tasting crew who powered through a significant amount of red wine without even flinching. That’s devotion to the cause that is.