Wine Press: Autumn days … when only red wine will do

Henry Fessy Moulin-á-Vent 2011 Beaujolais crus review

AUTUMN is here; weekends of scrunchy woodland walks, skin-tingling whip-it-up winds and soggy downpours.
Crisp whites and rosés still have their place but there’s nothing better than a red wine reflecting the season’s leafy clusters and harvest fruits.
Last week I was a little rosy-cheeked after sitting in unexpected warm autumnal sun. With me, a Beaujolais, its soft tannins easy drinking before Sunday dinner. (“It was the sun what giv me rosy cheeks, honest guvnor.”)
But the Beaujolais straightened its back, donned some table manners and became a perfect accompaniment to a roast chicken with caramelised onions.
Beaujolais has a tinged reputation because of the over-hyped Beaujolais Nouveau which is released on the third Thursday of each November. You should look beyond that. Beaujolais can be unpretentious and easy drinking but you should definitely keep an eye out for the “crus”.
There are 12 appellations in Beaujolais – the basic Beaujolais AC; then Beaujolais Henry Fessy Moulin-á-Vent 2011 Beaujolais  crus wineVillages. There are 39 villages which can use Villages on the label – but the best appellation is the Beaujolais crus, which consists of 10 villages which produce wines of distinction from the region’s gamay grape.
Seek out Saint Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Regnie, Brouilly, and Côte de Brouilly.

My wine was Henry Fessy Moulin-à-Vent 2011 (£13.99 Hailsham Cellars, 01323 846 238. 13%abv). It had aromas of leafy hedgerow bushes, fingertip-squeezed blackcurrants  and warm red berries. Mouthwatering black fruits and gentle spice leave a squeak of acidity as soft tannins ease away to a fruity afterglow.

Also in my glass … I threw lamb, barlotti beans and tomatoes into a casserole dish and a couple of hours later Torres Ibericos Crianza 2010 Tempranillo (£9.99, Waitrose, 14% abv) was in a glass beside me. I doubt if my meal had a Spanish theme, though lamb and rioja are ideal partners.
Crianza wines are aged for at least two years and the Torres is aged in both American and French oak barrels, where it has picked up all the signature notes of spice and vanilla. It is a flirtatiously fruity cherry-red wine, with bilberries, blueberries and harvest fruits on the nose and some burnt toffee from the oak. To taste, round silky and smooth.

This column first appeared in the saturday magazine October 5 2013

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Wine Press: Burgundy wines have so many guises and glories

womenmenTHERE’S a jokey cartoon that makes the rounds occasionally, supposedly illustrating the complicated thought processes inside a woman’s mind.

It’s an intricate network of nuts, bolts, wires and electric circuits, all cross-connecting and interweaving – and nothing seems to make sense.

All I can say is that whoever drew that hadn’t tried to get their head around the intricacies of French wine appellations, local terroir, hierarchies of classifications, labelling – need I go on? Believe me, a woman’s brain is simplicity itself compared to understanding the French wine system.

Take Burgundy wines. When I think about them my head hurts. Not because I’ve drunk too much of it, I hasten to add.

This region is a confusing little beast and no one column could ever do it justice.

However, I’ve found a helpful little guide – and very user friendly too.

Inside Burgundy: The Côte de Beaune is an interactive eBook to pop on your iPad, produced by Berry Bros. & Rudd Press.

Just for the photographs alone, this is a stunning addition to any wine enthusiast’s library.

Learn more about the famous wine-producing regions such as the Hill of Corton and Pommard – the people, the wines and the terroir.

Master of Wine Jasper Morris can be seen on videos walking through the vines; there are interactive maps which, with one click, take you to more detail on the vineyards and producers of individual areas.

He says: “I feel that over the last 30 years I have developed a body of knowledge and more especially a depth of understanding, of Burgundy that I want to share. If you open a bottle of Burgundy, or go to a tasting, if you visit the vineyards – you can add your own notes and experiences to mine.”

(It is available through the Apple bookstore at £14.99)

I’ve also been tasting Burgundy this week at Vinea on Albert Dock, under the auspices of the Liverpool Wine School.

Chardonnay and pinot noir are the classic grapes of Burgundy – with gamay making fruity wines in the southernmost Beaujolais.

Here’s one of each.

Domaine Gerard Tremblay, Chablis AC (£14.49) is pale lemon with the aroma of freshly cut green apples. It has cheek-pinching acidity with lime and citrus dash through your mouth with the cutting edge, and taste, of a wet steel knife. It is a refreshing, crisp, example of chardonnay from this northern part of Burgundy, where the vines gather their nutrients from ancient seabeds.

Domaine de la Plaigne, Beaujolais-Villages AC (£11.49) is a simple, no-nonsense ruby red wine from the gamay grape with strawberry jam on the nose and to taste. It has medium tannins. This isn’t a complex wine but is very drinkable.

Finally, one of the stars of the show, Domaine Heresztyn, Gevry-Chambertin AC (£45.99). A quality pinot noir, pale garnet with intense aromas of strawberries, herbs, and hints of old oak. Complex, concentrated and classily divine.

The wines are available from Vinea at