Whether you want to celebrate with Champagne or settle into your favourite chair with something more warming, here are the drinks that are easing us into autumn
Additional words: Giles Fallowfield
Billecart-Salmon Bicentenary Cuvée
This special-occasion wine to mark Billecart-Salmon’s 200th anniversary is a glorious celebration of the family’s savoir-faire, passed on through seven generations, with a price that reflects the fact that just 1818 magnums and 118 jeroboams have been produced. It is a marriage of four fine vintages – 2000, ‘03, ‘08 and ‘12 – but this doesn’t mean it’s not youthful or lively in the glass. That’s not the only surprise. Despite the pale colour, the mouthfeel is concentrated and dense, with a delicious, intense iodine note and a touch of smokiness. A wine that will develop further complexity over the years ahead.
Colonsay Gin Bramble Liqueur
Whisky isn’t the only spirit you’ll find being distilled in Scotland these days; the country has an increasingly strong reputation for making gin that rivals what’s going on south of the border. One such is Colonsay Gin, made on the tiny Hebridean island to the north of Islay, which has just released this new Bramble Liqueur. Made from blackberries handpicked on Colonsay, it is full-bodied and fruity without tasting like an explosion in a jam factory and is a very worthy alternative to sloe gin. Serve over ice for an after-dinner warmer, or with sparkling wine for an instant cocktail – garnished, of course, with a blackberry or two.
£19.48, Master of Malt
Marcel Lapierre Morgon 2016
The year-round popularity of rosé has made it easy to forget that a bottle of pink isn’t the only chilled alternative to white wine. With their bright fruit and refreshing acidity, light reds can bridge the gap between easy-drinking whites and food-friendly rosé and the wines are as enjoyable on their own as they are with barbecued salmon, tuna ceviche or an Indian takeaway. Beaujolais is the king of the style and while November’s Beaujolais Nouveau gets all the attention, the appellation is capable of sophisticated vintage wine like this 2016 Morgon from biodynamic pioneer Marcel Lapierre, all juicy black cherries and a waft of violet on the nose.
£27.50, Harvey Nichols
Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Grande Réserve NV
In its smart new livery, Brut Grande Réserve is the sort of well-made but attractively priced fizz you always want to have chilled in the fridge, ready to pop. It gets a decent amount of bottle age – at least four years in the deep Chouilly cellars – which nicely rounds out this black grape-dominant blend of 40% Pinot Noir and 40% Meunier, while a good dash of Chardonnay adds an elegant, refreshing tweak. Expect attractive aromas of yellow stone-fruits, plum and apricot, and some mid-palate richness. Great for an everyday treat, with simple starters or splashed into any Champagne cocktail.
Port Charlotte 10
Even non-whisky aficionados would be able to sniff out the smoky character of Islay whisky from a mile off, and this newcomer from the island’s Bruichladdich distillery lives up to its ‘heavily peated’ billing: it’s a monster of the style. But this is a drink that hides tenderness behind the toughness: while smokiness is very much to the fore, there’s a maritime tang that feels like being sprayed by an Atlantic mist, while vanilla and coconut are sweetly redolent of the gorse bushes that cover Islay. Be warned, though: at 50% abv, this is not a dram for the faint hearted.
£48.95, The Whisky Exchange