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Autumn Seductions

Rockliffe Hall's Head Sommelier, Daniel Jonberger, recommends some perfect wines as the nights draw in.

When I take my trusty dog Nika out for the morning walk every day, I feel my soul lift while looking at the countryside. No cars or people, just us and nature. The colours have been amazing round us with lots of blue skies a chill in the air that just enhances the changing of the leaves’ colours.

This is also the time of year when your palate gravitates towards different wines. Gone are the light whites and soft reds. Now is the time of year your body and mind want to have something to bite on. An additional glass after dinner while the fire is crackling.

In the very south of France you find Consolation Vineyards in Languedoc-Roussillon. It is an ‘Artisan’ and low production Vineyard. Everything is back to basic shall we say.

Take their Dog Strangler for instance. It is a 100% Mouverdre and is trodden by foot 3 times a day before the stalks and skin are removed. Then it goes into a mixture of new and old oak barrels for a year. The nose is intense with abundance of fruit and strange minerality. The palate is huge, with a mixture of dark blackberries, smoke, lean spice and a velvet touch that is surprising. If you don’t decant this beautiful wine, the tannins directly on opening will be ferocious. It mellows in 4 hours.

If you prefer to indulge in a white wine, a more mature Chardonnay would fit right in. Quails Gate from Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada, is one of those that will leave you with a satisfied smile on your lips. This Chardonnay is rich with a full palate, bursting with Orchard fruit and a wonderful creamy tenderness. A touch of burnt butter lingers around your palate and the long aftertaste warms your stomach and soul with happiness.

Then for when the days get shorter still, it is time to bring out the big hitters. Susana Balbo is a fantastic wine maker in Mendoza, Argentina. Her creations are always full of surprises and always maintain a very high quality. Her single Vineyard Malbec, Nosotros from 2013 is one of those. Such a rich nose of toasty oak and brambles greet you first. Liquorice and lavender get in the mix together with a warming spice on the palate. Still it is very feminine in the way that the silkiness of the Malbec treats you. It manages to be dense, rich and feminine at the same time. A truly remarkable wine. The second glass is always even better!

Daniel Jonberger
Head Sommelier, Rockliffe Hall.