Fall evokes the changing colors and multiple shades of the leaves in the forest; the mushrooms and truffles hunts; the warmer cloths and the scent of burning logs in the fireplace; lazy Sundays under the blanket reading a book or watching a classic, while the stew is cooking. All of these comfort our hearts and prepare us for the up-and-coming winter season. Fall also calls for earthier food and wines with fuller mouth-feel, richer fruit and more Terroir-oriented savors. Made with atypical and indigenous red grapes from three wine regions aside of the beaten path, the following wines encompass all of the above cited fall’s feelings, sensations and flavors in a bottle.
2007 Kanonkop “Kadette” Stellenbosch South Africa
Suggested retail price $11-$13
Imported / Distributed by Lauber Imports in NYC
Kanonkop is one of the well known wineries of Stellenbosch. Their Bordeaux-like style, blend and structure greatly appeal to most customers and usually please the connoisseurs. The adepts of South African red wines often compare their wines to some of the best Bordeaux yet at a more attractive price.
Kadette is Kanonkop’s second label, yet like the first label it presents very enjoyable fruit, a generous palate and a lovely balance. A blend of approximately 50% Pinotage, South Africa’s pride, blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this wine was matured in Bordeaux size (225 liters - French Nevers forest) barrels for up to 16 months. The resulting wine offers rich, structured and juicy ripe red and dark berry flavors with hints of oak, spices and earth. The lingering finish presents some dry yet very integrated tannins. Pair it with a grilled steak or even venison and game.
2003 Chateau Peyros Madiran Vieilles Vignes Southwest of France
Suggested retail price $15-$18
Imported / Distributed by Baron Francois in NYC
Chateau Peyros is the southernmost property of the Madiran Appellation. It takes its name from a local Gascony word which means "rocky location" or "stony place". Its location combines exceptional Terroir and ideal growing conditions. The main objective of Chateau Peyros is to apply the most natural and adapted wine making methods to their vineyard and cellar to protect the earth and its Biodiversity and to maximize the quality of their wines. Most of their wines are not filtered to avoid imparting taste and flavors, therefore any natural deposits and slight sedimentation in the bottle are a guarantee of the wine's authenticity and truthful, unique expression. A light decantation is suggested to fully appreciate this Tannat based wine.
Typical of the infamously hot 2003 vintage, the full bodied and opulent Chateau Peyros is a blend of 60% Tannat, Madiran’s indigenous grape (which slowly became the national grape of Uruguay), and 40% Cabernet Franc, both from 40-plus year-old vines. Deep purple in the glass, the initial aromas of dark plum, blackberry and cedar unfold to reveal layers of peppermint and coffee. Fully ripe dark fruit and black berry flavors coat the palate along with notes of bitter chocolate and spices, sustained by a generous acidity and firm yet fairly integrated tannins into a long, structured finish. An earthy, slightly rustic red to be enjoyed with hearty fare: think roast beef, lamb and game.
2004 Le Combal Cahors Southwest of France
Suggested retail price $17-$20
Imported / Distributed by Metro Wine in NYC
Although more recognized than Madiran, Cahors remains one of the lesser known small wine regions of the southwest of France (that people do not venture easily to taste). However, Cahors produces great Malbec based wines that were the initial inspiration for what is now the fame and pride of Argentina. Big, concentrated, tannic and earthy, they usually need time and decant to fully deliver their character and personality.
The 2004 Le Combal is very dark and deep purple color. The Bordeaux-like nose is clean, dry, earthy and smoky. The palate is rich, with enjoyable dark wild berry flavors, minerality and forest floor notes intermingled with hints of roasted coffee, mushroom and spice. Firmly textured yet with a great juicy mouth- feel, this wine has a finish that is slightly tannic and a touch rustic, yet it tastes really good. Beside, a piece of semi-hard flavorful cheese or a slice of roasted meat should ease some of the slight angularities. Like the Madiran, this Cahors is an earthy, peasant’s like, wintry drink after a hard a day braving the unfriendly weather and the other complications of the day.
Overall, The Kanonkop Kadette is a friendly, versatile wine to enjoy with or without food. However, both the Madiran and the cahors will warm you up nicely when paired with southwest of France specialties like a "Cassoulet de Castelnaudary" or "Saucisses Lentilles de Toulouse" or "Magret de Canard" from the Landes.
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