May 10, 2013

Autumnal Drinking

10 May 2013 | by Andrea Frost

Autumn_Lovely Ruby Leaves

Autumn is a beautiful in-between season and a time of great transition.

It’s amidst the hottest and coldest seasons, but neither hot nor cold; it’s part of the viticultural cycle but no longer flourishing and not yet dormant. It is the change when nature prepares to shut down for the long slumber of winter.

Wines suited to the season also sit in between the spectrum of weights and flavours. White wines are richer and more complex than the crisp, light white wines suited to summer drinking, while red wines can be lighter and not as heavy as those suited to the deep, dark depths of winter.

These wines provide wonderful drinking for that in-between season; wines with hues of golden yellow, warm pink, glowing ruby that make them look, as Albert Camus said of autumn, “…when every leaf is a flower.”

Here is a selection of wines, perfect for the autumnal transition.


2011 Paul Mas Domaines Astruc Chardonnay

Malras France / RRP $15

The transition from summer to autumn reveals itself in a myriad of subtle changes as the earth revolves around the sun. Outdoors, days are still warm but gone is the searing heat of summer; in the vineyards, vines relieved of their fruit start slowing after months of luxurious growth. The transition occurs indoors as well when fires are lit, rugs are thrown and windows closed to keep the chill outdoors. These changes make their way to the kitchen as well. When a roast chicken and buttery potatoes seem like a better idea than grilled fish and salad, you really know it’s autumn. For such moments, this wine is just the ticket. Golden colour to hint at the richness of the wine, it’s a full, rich chardonnay with stone fruit and cashew followed by a creamy, integrated palate offering plenty of flavour, texture and length. Exceptional value and quality.


2012 Freeman Rondo Rondinella Rosé

New South Wales / RRP $20

There can be a lot of talk about what rosé should or should not be. Ironic really as one of the attributes of rosé is that it is typically an uncomplicated wine. For example, rosé is not built to age, its winemaking is generally not complex and it is not created to be a wine of great profundity. It can, however, be a wine of great loveliness, as much as an accompaniment to warm weather splendour as it is a pleasing wine to drink. This wine is made in the hilltops of NSW from Rondinella grapes – rare grapes in Australia, popular in northern Italy. A dry, savoury rosé it exudes lovely aromas of berries, cherries and quince, followed with a dry, creamy and savoury palate. This is a perfect wine to drink on those last warm and hazy afternoons as autumn slides into winter.

2012 Rob Dolan True Colours Pinot Noir

Yarra Valley / RRP $22

About 15 years ago, curious about wine, I took up an offer to work for a weekend at a friend of a friend’s winery in the Strathbogie Ranges. I had not long before read A Year in Provence and as a result of the reading I felt, frankly, very well prepared for the experience. Long days, early mornings, hard labour, cool nights and hours of hand plunging soon proved that my romantic idea of winemaking and the reality of it were kingdoms apart but worlds of fun. The chief winemaker was Rob Dolan who has had a few winemaking guises since then. This is his latest; the True Colours range, comprising of five wines. This wine is wonderfully drinkable, great value, Yarra Valley Pinot Noir brimming with darker berry fruits, a hint of spice and gentle grippy tannins. As a medium-bodied red wine, it’s perfect for those cool autumnal nights when you no longer have to make the wine, rather you can just sit back and enjoy it.

2012 Shadowfax Minnow

Werribee Victoria / RRP $25

There is a misleading idea in life that suggests something will be improved if you match it with like – that you will make some sort of super power by doubling up on the same attributes. I understand the logic behind this, but I also see another way – seeking out something or someone that fills the slack created by your weak spots. This is what wine blending is all about. Pairing the right varieties in the right amounts to make a wine that is greater than the sum of its varietal parts. This wine, a wonderfully perfumed and heady red wine blend is all about that. Made of a blend of four red varieties: Carignan, Grenache, Cinsault and Mataro, each one plays a role that the other can’t. The result is a delightful ruby coloured wine that spills with seductive aromas of broody dark berries, spice and a juicy palate of berries, spice, tannin and deliciousness. Perfectly medium-bodied and delightful autumn drinking.

These reviews first appeared in the print edition of The Melbourne Review