There’s no hiding from autumn now; it has crept upon us after an endless summer, blowing rich colours across the muddy lanes and making us dig out the big coats from the back of the cupboard. Jump season is well under way too and drawing closer to the November highlights – Haldon Gold Cup day at Exeter, Wincanton’s Badger Chase Day, The Cheltenham November Meeting, Betfair Chase Day at Haydock, and meetings at Carlisle, Market Rasen, Sandown and Warwick to delight us from the comfort of our own homes.
Despite the less than sunny weather, I am relishing the arrival of autumn and the chance to light generous crackling fires, cook hearty beef stews packed with squashes and pulses, and warm the taste buds with bottles of deep red wine. Autumn really is red’s time to shine, with a spread of delicious varieties from across the world to suit every palate, budget and occasion. Whether you enjoy it on its own, cook with it or warm it on the stove with spices, red wine is a classic that I certainly can’t be without at this time of year.
Before we spiral into the Christmas haze of planning and presents, and turn our attention to bubbly for the festivities, let’s make the most of the wonderful autumnal reds which are available and perfect to accompany some top class Jump racing at home.
If you like lighter reds that can be enjoyed on their own then Pinot Noir from New Zealand and Romania will go down a treat, as well as Beaujolais, Beaujolais Villages and the cru wines like Fleurie, made from the delicious grape variety Gamay, which remain great value. For a local bottle, our English and Welsh reds are doing spectacularly well at the moment – Bolney Estate Sussex, Three Choirs Gloucestershire and Ryedale Vineyards in Yorkshire are three to name.
Medium reds with some weight and spice are just what I crave this time of year, especially Italy’s Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, Rioja from Northern Spain or a rustic Côtes du Rhône from Southern France. Further afield there is delicious Merlot from California, made from the often-overlooked indigenous grape variety from South Africa, Pinotage, whilst the grape variety Grenache is great on its own or in a blend with Shiraz from Australia.
Now with the dark and cosy nights drawing ever more in, full-bodied reds really do the trick on their own, or with food. Top choices include Malbec from Argentina which invites itself to be enjoyed round a roaring fire. From the south of France, Languedoc-Roussillon really offers tremendous options, whilst South Africa is rich with bottles of Syrah and Cabernet Franc. Zinfandel from California is not to be missed too.