By Barbara Hay ~
There is a special smell in the air that’s crisp but still dusty from summer—fall brings the feeling of completeness of a season and thoughts of red wine. Wine is an all-seasons beverage, but if you’re eating seasonally, it makes sense to be drinking seasonally. It’s time to begin thinking about richer whites and more robust reds for the coming cold season.
It’s time to look for reds are light- to medium-bodied and have a range of spicy flavors that pair well with autumn fare. Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, Syrah- and Grenache-based wines always feel more autumnal, similarly, Viognier, Pinot Blanc, or Chardonnay are wonderful for fall.
Here are a few wines that are a bit off the beaten path but will fill out your autumn cellar beautifully.
Ranging from rustic-and-leathery to vanilla-fruit-bomb, this is a flamboyant grape. It has brilliant, red fruit flavors (strawberry/raspberry) and offers some of the highest natural alcohol levels (just behind Zinfandel). It matches up to any fall squash recipes you throw its way.
Altovinum Evodia Old Vine Garnacha, Calatayud, Spain.
A 100% Garnacha sourced from the highest elevation vineyards of Garnacha of any DO in Spain. It has an exotic nose of earthy minerality, mocha, black cherry, and black raspberry. Savory and concentrated, this medium-bodied wine is very much fruit-forward. A great value wine. Aficionados familiar with the wines of the Priorat and the Roussillon will enjoy this delicious Spanish red.
If you love savory wines, then this is definitely something that you need to try. Good Carignan is bold and gamy with smooth tannins. Carignan’s red fruit-driven flavors pair wonderfully with any turkey or poultry dish.(Thanksgiving anyone?)
Cantina Santadi Carignano del Sulcis Grotta Rossa
This 100% Carignano wine is from the southern Sulcis region in Sardinia. The nose is intense with hints of licorice, pepper and earth. Red fruit flavors just ooze from this elegant, medium-bodied, silky-textured wine. As it is food-friendly with a wonderful acidity, it’s perfect for pairing with red meat, cheeses and dark olives.
Nero d’Avola & Nerello Mascalese from Sicily
This blend is so perfect for fall. Sicily was reinvigorated with Nero d’Avola, yet there is another delicious red: Nerello Mascalese. Lighter than Nero d’Avola, Nerello Mascalese is similar to the delicacy of Pinot Noir, with a distinct smoky volcanic aroma along with a fruity-flower basket of cherry, raspberry, plum, rose and violet flavors that tends to lean toward the more plush end of the spectrum.
Corvo Rosso, Sicilia
This classic, full-bodied, high-acid Sicilian wine is aged in oak barrels. Intensely aromatic, with powerful, seductive aromas of blackberry, black cherry, raspberry and spice that billow out of the glass. Soft and approachable, it has a friendly, easy-drinking style. Extremely versatile, it’s perfect for everyday dinners and informal occasions as it goes well with grilled and roast meats and medium-aged cheeses.
GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvédre)
GSM as in Garnacha, Syrah and Mourvèdre—the three classic varieties in a southern Côtes du Rhône red wine. Since it’s a blend of grapes, expect a mix of red and black fruit flavors. The wines from the Old World countries tend to have a tart herbaceous note. New World versions tend to be juicier and more pure in their fruit flavors.
Schild GMS, Barossa Valley, Australia
This red is a mouthful of juicy, ripe red cherries and spice. Grenache’s blackberry and cherry flavors appear on the front palate while Mourvédre and Shiraz provide structure, concentration and depth. White pepper and spice are evident with a soft tannin framework ensuring a supple, soft texture to finish.
M. Chapoutier Cotes du Roussillon Villages les Vignes de Bila Haut
This French red from Languedoc-Roussillon is a blend of Carignan, Grenache, Syrah and is a wine that will top anyone’s value list. Fleshy and well-structured, this red is medium to full-bodied, concentrated and balanced, with impressive amounts of blackberry and currant-styled fruit, herbs, pepper and smoked earth aromas and flavors. Showing more minerality with air, this powerful red offers concentrated cherry, plum tart and blackberry flavors that feature plenty of spicy notes. A dark chocolate accent lingers on the firm, moderately tannic finish.
Pinot Blanc from Alsace.
It may seem a strange pick for fall until you realize it’s a surprisingly awesome match with shrimp and curry dishes. The flavor of Pinot Blanc can range from fruity pineapple and white peach flavors to green apple and sage with lots of minerals. These wines have high acidity and the best versions offer a rich, haunting honeycomb-like aroma, yet it’s perfectly dry.
Hugel Pinot Blanc
A bit like an un-oaked Chardonnay, this fresh, golden white wine is as juicy and thirst-quenching as it is fruity, subtle and balanced. Hugel Pinot Blanc is crisp with a delicate nose that opens with a romantic spring bouquet of soft peach and almond blossoms with a hint of lemon verbena. The flavors are fine crisp green apples with notes of citrus, lime, green apple, white peach, a hint of almond and minerally limestone. A great wine for sipping or pairing with spicier dishes and vegetable-based meals.