A seasonal recommendation. Réserve del Conte and Cassiano.

By Kurt Höretzeder

Red wine is well and truly in season in autumn. But why? – There are many possible explanations. One, perhaps not the least important: because it warms. // The warming quality of red wine is seldom remarked on in literature, because the warmth is so subtle. Compared with the fiery sensation generated by brandy or whisky, the warmth induced by wine seems insignificant. // A first sip of Réserve del Conte, the Manincor red ‘estate wine’. It melds the main varieties of the estate’s range into a succulent cuvée evocative of Alpine warmth. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, plus the dark and fruity aromas of Lagrein, South Tyrol’s foremost native grape variety. Its full body and nuances of cherry give an inkling of the vigour lurking within this wine. But at first one senses little of its warming qualities: no sudden glow in the throat and stomach. Wines such as this provide no immediate sensation of warmth. The sudden warmth of a pre-Christmas mulled wine and the warmth we are talking about here are worlds apart … // In certain parts of our planet, especially in hot regions, people often prefer warm beverages, completely unlike our custom. Hot tea in the Sahara? How peculiar (for us)! But just as inner warmth is used to equalise external heat, red wine produces a certain sensation of coolness to compensate for the cold. This feeling of equilibrium takes a little time to develop (which there should be no lack of time in autumn). When the days draw in, starting the evening savouring a smooth and moreish red wine like Réserve del Conte, one is overcome by the sensation: that’s satisfying – I’ll stick with this. // A change of wine (to make sure): Cassiano, the highest-ranking red wine cuvee in the range and the one which expresses the Manincor philosophy like no other. The long, 18-month maturation period in barriques serves to gently mellow the wine’s powerful, assertive aromas and flavours (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tempranillo and Petit Verdot). The result is an elegant wine of impressive body, mature with great length. Very gradually the sensation of warmth spreads. In earnest: the rather aloof elegance and coolness typical of good red wines develops into lasting warmth as it penetrates deeper into the body. // This quality is probably one of the reasons why full-blooded red wines go so well with typical autumn and winter dishes: since time immemorial they have served the purpose of providing the body with elements essential for the cold seasons. Venison, hare, chamois (roast or grilled red meat in general) with rich, dark sauces accompanied by equally powerful red wines provide the culinary accompaniment for the transition from autumn to the long winter evenings. They all go so well together because they ‘warm’ the body from within. // A wondrous transformation: the warmth of the sun and the powers of the earth are stored in the mineral and metallic energies of the wine and subsequently release themselves into the body. And with the warmth, memories of the recent summertime are revived. One proverbial ‘substantial’ reason why red wines often accompany moments of profound reflection and melancholy is (probably) also to be found in this cycle – an ultimate allusion to their extremely close relationship with autumn and winter.