The best wines of autumn
Pianogrillo, 2016 grecanico, Sicily, Italy ($30)
Relatively obscure, grecanico is the Soave grape garganega in Sicilian form. This wine has a pretty acacia and savoury bay leaf fragrance, and a palate that speaks of Italy – slinky, oily texture and appetising green almond bitterness.
Le Rocher des Violettes, 2014 Montlouis-sur-Loire Pétillant Originel chenin blanc, Loire Valley, France ($48)
A serious sister to the frivolous pét-nats, this is made in the ancestral style, without additions, from organically grown fruit. Extended ageing in the bottle provides a biscuity complexity; classic varietal chalk, lemon and wildflower honey. It’s chenin blanc in sparkling form.
The Splendid Gin ‘Summer Cup’ aperitif, Tasmania ($60)
Don’t let summer go just yet. Based at Spring Vale Wines, The Splendid Gin Summer Cup is a Tasmanian take on a British classic. For autumn, enhance the mountain pepper and dandelion root with bitter ruby grapefruit juice, ice and a slice of cucumber.
Helen & Joey Estate ‘Inara’, 2017 pinot gris, Yarra Valley, Victoria ($25)
There’s lovely poise to this wine, which features yellow pear, young almond, fresh hay and plenty of varietal flavour. Pinot gris’ inherent slipperiness is complemented by short skin contact for texture and interest.
Pierre Luneau-Papin ‘La Grange – Vieilles Vignes’, 2014 Muscadet-Sèvre-et-Maine sur lie melon blanc, Loire Valley, France ($24)
There’s plenty of excitement to be found in the far west of the Loire: Muscadet reborn. Here, find curious, attractive neutrality – cashew kernel and concentrated salinity rather than showy fruit. A snip at a touch over $20.
Stargazer ‘Rada’, 2017 pinot meunier blend, Tasmania ($35)
A new star from one of Tasmania’s finest producers, this co-ferment of pinot noir and meunier is truly light and bright with translucent red fruit and a shimmer of earth and spice.
Domaine du Pélican ‘Trois Cépages’, 2016 Arbois pinot noir blend, Jura, France ($180)
A few vintages in, the highly anticipated wines of Guillaume, Marquis d’Angerville, are finally in Australia in tiny quantities. A blend of biodynamically grown pinot noir and trousseau with a splash of bitter-orange poulsard, it’s sublimely balanced, fragrant, lissom. Truly Burgundy meets Jura. Seek it out – the effort will be worth it.
Scala, 2016 Cirò Classico Superiore gaglioppo, Calabria, Italy ($25)
Historic gaglioppo is a little off the radar, but it doesn’t deserve to be. It’s fragrant, with faded rose petal, balsam and rhubarb root. There’s terracotta and a coil of savoury tannin reminiscent of sangiovese. Salumi anyone?
Express Winemakers ‘Drinking Wine’, 2017 grenache blend, Western Australia ($25)
Sort of red, sort of autumnal rosé; grenache and friends. This wine features crunchy, thirst-slaking cranberry and pomegranate; a savoury spine of herbs and briar. Exactly what it says on the tin: wine for drinking – with aplomb.
Marionette ‘Dry’ cassis liqueur Melbourne, Victoria ($45 for 500ml)
Handcrafted liqueurs are joining favourite Aussie spirits behind the bar. Dark and intense, the product of thousands of Tasmanian blackcurrants, Marionette’s bright acidity balances succulent sweetness. It’s fresh fruit captured in liqueur form.
Evesham Wood, 2015 Willamette Valley pinot noir, Oregon, US ($55)
Dry farmed by one of Oregon’s leading small producers, this is a classic example of why Willamette Valley is so highly regarded for pinot noir. There’s real density of dark morello cherry fruit and turned black earth, deft oak seasoning and memorable persistence. Pour me another glass.
Paget ‘Jajavanaise’, 2016 Touraine gamay blend, Loire Valley, France ($28)
So much joy to be found in this vin de soif ! It’s a juicy blend of gamay and malbec; lifted violet, green tea and black raspberry fruit, held in check by gravelly cabernet franc tannin.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Apr 28, 2018 as "The best of autumn". Subscribe here.