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Neil Phillips, ‘The Wine Tipster’

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.

Check out The Wine Tipster’s Five Autumn Reds to follow:


Beaujolais 2019, Beaujolais, France. £7 and also available in single serve 250ml. Stockist: Marks & Spencer


This is simply one of the best value lighter reds available and has been a very popular choice in The Wine Tipster household. Light, with super smooth cherry and blackberry fruit, this charming Beaujolais is great to enjoy on its own, whilst it makes a great pairing with charcuterie, pâtés and terrines.


Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, California, USA. £8.50 - £8.75. Stockists: Morrisons, Tesco, Waitrose, Ocado.  


The Dark Horse range has welcomed many new drinkers to Californian wines and their medium-bodied and versatile Cabernet Sauvignon is packed with intense, dark fruit flavours, gentle oak and smooth, velvety tannins. Lovely to enjoy on an autumn evening without food, as this isn’t a powerfully structured Cabernet Sauvignon, whilst it also tastes great with a burger, or delicious stuffed Portobello mushrooms.


Ramos Reserva 2018, Alentejo, Portugal, £8.99 per bottle and £7.49 mixed case of six. Stockist: Majestic


Alentejo is a beautiful region to visit in southern Portugal and it is here where João Portugal Ramos planted their first vines in 1990. They are producing so many good wines, including their medium-bodied Ramos Reserva, which has lovely deep, dark fruit flavours and some spicy and herbaceous notes too. The tannins are well-integrated, and you can easily enjoy a glass on its own, or this wine tastes great with a casserole of lentils, mushrooms and spices, or pork casserole or chops.


Don David Blend of Terroirs Malbec 2019, Calchaqui Valley, Argentina £9. Stockist: Co-op.


Terroir is a term used to describe all the natural elements of a vineyard site. From the fabulous wine region of Calchaqui Valley in northwest Argentina, this is a blend of two Malbecs planted in vineyards at two different high altitudes. One brings the fruit concentration while the other adds structure, texture and backbone. This well-priced wine has autumnal flavours of blackberries and blueberries, with sweet spicy notes and silky tannins. Of course, we can enjoy with steak and many other dishes too like lovely game pies, grilled or roasted aubergines, which pack plenty of flavour.



St. Hallett ‘Faith’ Shiraz 2018, Barossa Valley, Australia £16.99 and £14.99 mixed case of six Stockist: Majestic


This is classic Barossa Valley Shiraz with bold flavours of pepper and plums, and with an herbaceous and savoury character too. Whilst never being too heavy on the palate this is a wine to truly savour. 

Decant or pour into a glass jug an hour before drinking to allow this Shiraz to really develop. Great with a roast or full-flavoured vegetarian dish. This wine is a real treat.


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