By Marco Giovanetti
For me, as for most people I assume, the change in seasons brings about an emotional feeling that I have never really been able to express in words. When the weather and the scenery start to change, when the daylight hours are gradually growing shorter and the nights cooler, when there is a new smell in the air, when the public markets bustling with fruits and vegetables again, I know that fall is arriving. I guess I get emotional because it is a reminder that time really does fly by. The change in climate also brings about a change in my palate. I stop craving roses and crisp mineral driven whites and start craving more full bodied, spicy reds and whites. When talking about full bodied reds, lately the first thing I think about (and start to taste) is Syrah.
Depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made, the variety has two names. In France, where it goes by Syrah, it makes a huge contribution to the red wines of the Rhone Valley. In the southern Rhone villages of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, and Vacqueyras, it is blended with a number of varieties, but mainly Grenache. It is in the northern Rhone, including Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Cote Rotie, St. Joseph, where it most often stands out on its own, and is only occasionally blended with the region’s white grapes. More recently, in the late 20th Century, Shiraz has put Australian producers such as Penfolds and d’Arenberg on the fine wine map, with cult wines like “Grange” and “The Dead Arm”. Generally speaking, the style from the old world is more savory, expressing aromas of pepper, cured meat and leather. The hotter climate experienced in Australia results in more upfront, dense and even jammy fruit. The grape has also taken off with rapid success in California and Washington, as well as South Africa and New Zealand. Producers in these regions often name their varietal wines according to the style they intend.
Another reaction I get when the weather starts to cool and the sun starts to set early is my craving for richer, heavier foods starts to kick in. I guess there’s just something comforting about having a big warm meal on a cool night. As the readers get to me, I am sure they realize that if I having a big warm meal, I’m probably having a big red wine to wash it down. Now Syrah is definitely a big red wine, however, there are some other amazing varietals that fall in to this category and that should not be missed!
Cabernet Sauvignon – probably the most popular of the full bodied reds (maybe the most popular overall) is another amazing, versatile grape that goes so well with a big rich meal. Cabernet is one of the most prominent dark-skinned grape varieties in terms of popularity and area under vines, but which comprises our largest selection of wines. Grown in just about every wine producing region and climate, Cabernet Sauvignon can express a huge range of aromas, from green peppers in cool climates through to dark jammy fruits in hot regions. Common aromas include blackcurrants, mint, graphite, and forest floor, to name a few. Maturation in small oak barrels can develop a complex range of aromas from cedar wood, cigar box and tobacco to eucalyptus and undergrowth. Cabernet Sauvignon’s success is partly due to its ability to adapt to a range of soils and climates. It is the main constituent of the Bordeaux blend in the revered communes of Pauillac, St. Estephe and St. Julien, and has achieved equal success in California’s Napa Valley. It is grown extensively throughout Southern Australia, with some outstanding examples from the Terra Rossa soil of Coonawarra. Cabernet Sauvignon also plays an increasing role in Tuscany, Italy, where it is blended with native varieties such as Sangiovese to produce the Super Tuscans.
In short, I love the fall and all it has to offer. Especially the food and wine because of the immense pleasure it gives me. And hey, this is my world! Wines of the week:
On the nose, red and black fruits with a smoky peppery character and mineral and reduction nuances. In the mouth, full body with smooth tannis and a caressing juicy finale. 90\100. QPR
Food Match: Grilled Lamb Chops and a side dish of braised lentils with Orzo pasta.
On the nose, fine notes of violets and black pepper with delicate nuances of smoked meat. In the mouth, full body with polished tannins and ripe black fruits with a smoky angle. Very refreshing and long finale. 92\100 QPR.
Food Match: Risotto with Confit du Canard with mushrooms and truffle butter.
A great nose that reminds me of prunes, cassis in brandy with leather and figs covered in chocolate. In the mouth, full body and elegant with amazing velvety tannins. Flavors remind of complex spices such as cardamom and anis. Great and terrific finale. An amazing finale with a solid and attractive price. 95\100. QPR
Food Match: Bacon wrapped grilled pheasant with fingerling potatoes stir fried in duck fat.