Monday, September 21, 2009

Wines for the changing seasons

It's bound to happen. As you are mowing, you notice more and more brown leaves on the ground. The morning has just a bit more of a chill to it- your car even has more dew on it. Football is officially in full swing, and you are digging out that old chili recipe that you think you have memorized, but don't. Fall is approaching. With the annual popping up of apple cider and those little Brachs pumpkin candies, it's a great time to also change up the wines in your "drink now" rack at home.
This is the time to put down the pinot grigio, unoaked chardonnay, and torrontes that you have been drinking by the bucket-full all summer. Put on a fleece, your old reliable jeans (if they still fit), and a pair of boots, and head to ye ol' reliable liquor store. For the fall, I like to drink light to medium body red wines. The first thing that you might start hearing about is Beaujolais. Let's clear this up- some of this wine is good, some of it isn't. Beaujolais is an area on the south end of Burgundy, and the grapes that are grown here are called Gamay. This is basically a kissing cousin to Pinot Noir. On the Third Thursday of November, Beaujolais Nouveau comes out. Known as the "youngest wine in the world" these grapes were only crushed 8 or 9 weeks earlier. It is cheap, brightly acidic, fresh, and frankly pretty gross. I tend to get a lot of pink bubble-gum flavors, and a strong banana note out of these. These wines are quite a bit different than Beaujolais AC and Beaujolais Villages that are available. There are 10 individual villages in the area, each producing a higher-level, finer wine. These also have the fruit-forward characteristics, but less of the flavors previously listed. They are the perfect transition wine from summer to fall- I would recommend throwing it in the fridge for about 45 minutes prior to drinking, just to put a slight chill on it. Labels to look for are Chateau de la Chaize, and Chateau de la Terriere.

The next wines to look at are Pinot Noir. This gets interesting, because there is interesting stuff from Burgundy, California, Oregon, New Zealand, and even South America out there. In general, the wines from Burgundy and Oregon tend to be a bit earthier, the ones from Cali have a bit more body and alcohol (many are pumped up with a good dose of syrah or merlot), and the ones from New Zealand are a bit more acidic. Burgundy requires several days of blogging to explain, so if you are tentative, just ask your retailer for some help (or call me). From California, there is a huge variety of price ranges. For the lower end stuff, I like Saintsbury and Laetitia. Oregon-wise, check out Iris, Panther Creek, and Ayres. New zealand fans should try to find Saint Clair.

Finally, I have written previously about malbec. There are tons of them out there- just start buying and trying. The plum and smokiness of the ones from Argentina fit fall foods really well.

Stay tuned this week for a big announcement.


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