Autumnal grape varieties to ease you into Winter

April 21, 2022
Autumnal grape varieties to ease you into Winter

The autumn months are all about transition, and the ‘in-between' nature of this season is a great reason to explore a whole spectrum of new and exciting wines. While Autumn’s crisp, sunny days call for textural whites and bright reds, its cooler sweater-weather is the perfect opportunity to crack some fuller-bodied whites and warmer, spicier reds. To get you thinking about what to stock the cellar with this season, we’ve curated a selection of autumnal varieties to serve as inspiration and ease you into Winter.

Whites for Autumn

As the cooler weather sets in, it’s time to trade in those light and refreshing summer whites for something a little more perfumed on the nose and fuller in the body. From an ultra-aromatic gewurztraminer to an unctuous viognier or an off-dry riesling, these white grapes will pair well with all sorts of seasonal activities and produce.

Riesling

A wonderfully versatile variety, riesling is a great grape to have in your arsenal this autumn. Capable of producing a range of styles, from bone-dry to lusciously sweet, its fruit-forward flavour profile and racy acidity makes it a perfect pair with classic autumnal fare. German off-dry styles like Kabinetts and Spätleses are especially well-suited to creamy risottos, cheesy quiches and seasonal mushroom dishes.

Gewürztraminer

Gloriously aromatic by nature, gewürztraminer really hits that sweet spot between the bright, refreshing wines of summer and richer winter whites. Celebrated for its intensely floral aromas and exotic flavour profile, gewürztraminer classically gives notes of lychee and rose, tangerine and candied ginger. Some of the finest examples hail from Alsace, a region well-known for its hybrid cuisine, which incorporates hearty elements of Germanic culinary traditions with more refined qualities of French gastronomy.

Viognier & Friends

Whites made from viognier, marsanne and/or roussanne make for fantastic autumn whites. Originally from the northern Rhône, these varieties traditionally produce flavoursome, medium-bodied wines with plenty of texture and character. Of the three, viognier typically makes varietal white wines that are richly perfumed and unctuous in the mouth. By contrast, marsanne and roussanne are common blending partners and while they don’t tend to exhibit the same fruit-forward opulence as viognier, they capture the same complexity and textured palate. They pair beautifully with classic comfort foods like a roast chicken, a hearty vegetable soup or a cheesy autumnal traybake.

Reds for Autumn The lighter, brighter reds you might have enjoyed from the fridge over summer are still relevant now, however, autumn will see them served at warmer temperatures and with richer dishes. You may also want to bring a bit of body and spice into play – here, red Spanish and Italian varieties working well with autumn flavours.

Gamay

Gamay is a light-bodied red that has a fruity, floral and sometimes earthy character ideal for the transitioning seasons. It is the main variety planted in Beaujolais but is gaining popularity outside of France with excellent expressions hailing from Australia and New Zealand. Often served slightly chilled during the summer months, gamay wines pivot nicely into Autumn – simply serve them at room temperature. This adaptability extends beyond seasonality to food-friendliness; gamay pairs well with all manner of dishes from sweet and sour stir-fry and Mediterranean fish and seafood, to hearty red meat dishes.

Tempranillo Tempranillo is undeniably Spain’s most famous variety and is best known for producing fine red wines from Rioja and Ribera del Duero in the north of the country. It’s a fantastic go-to variety for those cooler Autumn days, as it produces ripe, generous wines without becoming heavy or overblown. Wines from tempranillo also display intriguing complexity underlying that generous fruit – warming spice and baked earth – which often emerges as the wines open up in the glass.

Nebbiolo With classic notes of dried herbs, earth and violet florals it almost feels like nebbiolo was made for Autumn drinking. Native to Italy’s north-west, nebbiolo makes full-bodied reds that combine tantalising perfume on the nose with textural intensity on the palate. For world-class examples, we look to the grapes' spiritual home in Barolo and Barbaresco, two neighbouring regions located in the hills of Piedmont. Characterised by delicate aromas, bold tannin and high acidity, nebbiolo wines pair beautifully with rich, warming dishes that incorporate the seasonal fruits and vegetables of Autumn, like mushroom risotto, roasted meats with baked root vegetables.

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