Right now is the start of the best time of year, especially after the dreadfully hot summer many have faced this year. It is the time to anticipate cooling breezes through trees transitioning from green to gold and red and orange, football season is getting into full swing, this year’s harvest is almost complete, and the holidays are around the corner. As you adjust to the chill in the air, consider enjoying the wine that can warm you from the inside out. Medium to full-bodied white wines and bold reds are the wines for fall. Still, enjoying a fuller-bodied wine also demands balance, and these wines must include freshness and refinement. Finding the right balance can be difficult, but when it happens, a little magic occurs in the bottle.
Napa Valley’s Inglenook shines as a quality benchmark in Napa Valley thanks to the work film director, Francis Ford Coppola, has put into restoring the historic 235-acre property with 120 separate, organically farmed vineyard plots within the Rutherford AVA. The winery’s signature white blend, Blancaneaux ($60) showcases an elegant balance of fruit with freshness blending Viognier, Roussanne, and Marsanne for an aromatic Rhone-style blend delivering tropical and stone-fruit flavors. The fleshy wine has a luscious body with bright acidity. It is a perfect wine to enjoy as we transition into fall.
Duckhorn Chardonnay ($36) delivers the right balance of fruit and freshness. Crafted from a blend of vineyard sites dotted throughout Napa, including fruit from cool Carneros to high elevation Atlas Peak, the wine enjoys 90% barrel fermentation with lees stirring, with 40% of the wine undergoing malolactic fermentation. Seemingly, these techniques may lead you to believe the wine will be weighty on the palate, but thanks to the acidity retained through the cool growing appellations, the wine maintains freshness. Crisp apple and pear meld with fresh cream and lemon curd throughout the wine’s palate, with subtle hazelnut notes rounding out the inviting, pleasing wine.
Fragrant and elegant, delivering a new take on Pinot Noir, Blindfold Blanc de Noir ($35) is a new wine from Napa Valley’s Prisoner Wine Company showcasing the traditionally red grape variety as a white wine. Quickly pressing the juice off the skins after harvesting ensures the juice runs clear, giving the wine a soft golden color. A touch of Viognier and Gewurztraminer goes into the blend to enhance the aroma and give a round, full texture to the grapes. The resulting wine layers golden peach and juicy white grape flavors with honeycomb, elderflower, and apricot.
Just because the summer season is ending doesn’t mean you have to stop drinking Rose. In fact, now is the absolute best time to enjoy the salmon-colored beauties, as dry Rose is the perfect pairing with autumnal flavors like butternut squash soup, grilled chicken, fish, or duck, and ideal with Thanksgiving turkey and cranberries and Studio by Miraval ($18) is a perfect choice. From Chateau Miraval, nestled in the idyllic French Riviera, vineyards for the wine are highly influenced by the Mediterranean Sea, giving a hint of salty briny character to the blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Rolle, and Tibouren. With a pale pink color, the wine melds fresh rose petals and lavender with red apple, peach, and ripe citrus.
North of Sonoma County lies Anderson Valley. It is a region with a maritime climate heavily influenced by the Pacific, thanks to its close proximity to the ocean. It is home to some of the most exciting cool climate Pinot Noir wines produced in California today. From one end of the valley to the other, the cool-climate variety can take on red or black fruit notes, earthy forest floor, and herbal flavors, all while melding rustic tannin with lively acidity. Siduri brings fruit from three vineyard sites for its Anderson Valley Pinot Noir ($40), showcasing blue and blackberry, cranberry, and pomegranate with an underlying note of herbs de Provence.
Within Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley lies a rugged, high-elevation sub-AVA that was established over ten years ago but is still relatively unknown as the entire 4600-acre region has only 230 acres planted to vines (via Sonoma County). The Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak AVA lies at altitudes of 1660 – 3000 feet above sea level. Here, sitting at some of the highest elevations, Capture Winery grows rustic, bold, concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon for its Capture Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak Cabernet Sauvignon ($65). With structured power and an elegant frame, the wine melds earthy graphite and dried tobacco characteristics with black and blue fruit, woody herb, and cedar. Pair this wine with any protein you are grilling tonight!
Nestled in the southern part of the Rhone Valley, enjoying an influence from the warm Mediterranean while also feeling the brash intensity of the Mistral winds that blow off the Atlantic, lies the region of Costières de Nîmes. The region creates approachable, lively red and white Rhone blends from classic varieties to the region. From a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, and Carignan, Domaine Gassier Costieres de Nimes Nostre Pais Rouge ($20) successfully highlights the terroir delivering a bold yet balanced wine with juicy red fruit, crushed stone, and aromatic notes of wild herbs. A delicious wine with roasted meats and poultry, grilled autumn squash with wild rice, or roasted mushrooms.