Macclesfield Express - - LEISURE - ANDY CRONSHAW

THIS is the first week of the au­tumn where I’ve been forced to pull on a jumper and turn up my col­lar against a bit­ing wind.

The on­set of longer, colder nights brings the need for com­fort foods such as sausage and mash, lamb hot­pot and fish pie. I’ve also been head­ing to my favourite lo­cal Caribbean take­away for the re­viv­ing mir­a­cle of braised ox­tail and rice.

Fish pie calls for the broad min­eral flavours of Chenin Blanc, the bite of a herbal Sau­vi­gnon Blanc or the hon­esty of a good Picpoul such as the re­cently re­leased Co-op Truly Ir­re­sistible 2013 vin­tage.

Meat dishes de­mand the warmth and spice of Syrah/Shi­raz, the firm­ness of Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon, or, some­times, the sweet charms of Pinot Noir and Por­tuguese Touriga Na­cional.

One of the best ways to for­tify your­self against the cold is to drink for­ti­fied wine. And I have been do­ing plenty of that, par­tic­u­larly on a re­cent trip to Madeira where it was not at all cold – more of that is to follow.

Whether it’s Madeira, Port or Amon­til­lado sherry, the joy of for­ti­fied wines is their longevity once the bot­tle has been opened.

A cheeky mea­sure of any as an aper­i­tif or di­ges­tif will con­vey a warm­ing glow with the knowl­edge that the rest of the bot­tle will be fine for a week or so.

Un­der £6

THE Ex­quis­ite Col­lec­tion Gavi 2013 (£5.29 Aldi)

Men­tioned in this col­umn be­fore, this wine is a win­ner when it comes to that fish pie.

Le­mon zest on the nose, slightly min­eral with an al­mond tang. Wine­mak­ers’ Se­lec­tion South Aus­tralian Shi­raz (£5 Sains­bury’s)

This wine may not be a sin­gle vine­yard bou­tique pro­duc­tion but it avoids the sludgy qual­ity of­ten of­fered by Shi­raz of this type, of­fer­ing bright fruit with some per­son­al­ity. Aldi’s Ex­quis­ite Col­lec­tion 2012 Shi­raz (£5.99 Aldi)

This wine re­ally shouldn’t smell and taste as good as it does at this price. There’s mocha and to­bacco aro­mas with suc­cu­lent black­cur­rant and cher­ries on the palate. A top-notch Fri­day night wine to knock back over a lamb hot­pot or a mut­ton curry.

Un­der £7

Truly Ir­re­sistible Picpoul de Pinet 2013 (£6.99 The Co-op)

A new re­lease that is per­fect for fish pie or prob­a­bly for any other fish dish for that mat­ter. Re­fresh­ing and well­bal­anced with ap­ple fruit and plenty of acid­ity. Truly Ir­re­sistible Bar­bera d’Asti 2012 (£6.99, Co-op)

I was very im­pressed with the depth of flavour in this weighty, plummy red with cherry aro­mas.

Again a nice match for that lamb hot­pot or sausage and mash with red wine onion gravy.

Un­der £10

Er­razuriz Es­tate Se­ries Mer­lot 2013, Curico Val­ley, Chile (£9.99, Tesco, Ma­jes­tic, Bud­gens, NISA, Booths)

A rounded and soft per­fumed nose with­out a hint of leafi­ness gives way to black­berry and cas­sis fruit. This will match most meaty, com­fort food such as beef casse­role. Blandy’s Al­vada fiveyear-old rich Madeira (Cur­rently on of­fer at Waitrose - £12.99 re­duced to £9.99)

Notes of orange cit­rus and a slightly spicy fin­ish make this the per­fect pick-me-up.

Over £10

Quinta do Crasto Douro Su­pe­rior 2011 (£13.95 Slurp)

This fine vel­vety red from the Douro re­gion of Por­tu­gal com­bines red fruit aro­mas with el­e­gant spice. Serve it with lamb casseroles. Vi­dal-Fleury CrozesHermitage Rouge 2012 (£16.95 on­line)

The is the ar­che­typal au­tum­nal red. There’s smoky black pep­per and anise on the nose but the fruit is ex­cep­tion­ally fresh with dis­creet oak.

He­do­nis­tic with sausages, more than good enough for lamb. Robert Oat­ley Fin­is­terre Syrah, Great South­ern 2012 (£25 Hang­ing Ditch, Od­dbins, Chorl­ton)

I sam­pled this su­perb wine at Matthew Jukes’ Top 100 Aus­tralian Wines road­show at Manch­ester House. It’s an out­stand­ing bot­tle with clas­sic Shi­raz notes of pep­per and dark brood­ing fruit.

●● Er­razuriz Es­tate Se­ries Mer­lot 2013

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