Fall has arrived and it never ceases to give me all the “feels”. The sunshine remains but the temperature cools. Flavors of citrus and fresh produce turn to pumpkin spices and warm stews. Sweaters come out of their dens as we collectively give up on our beach-body dreams. All seems right with the world. Once the weather changes, I’m inspired to switch from the crisp, refreshing, energetic wines of summer to the soft, spicy and flavorful wines of the holiday season. As if by instinct, I begin craving my favorite comfort foods that cry out for that perfect sip to accompany them.
Culinarily speaking, autumn is a season of diversity at the table. Beef, ham, fowl, and fish are all standard fare, which prompts an equally creative wine selection. Thankfully, variety is not a problem for us.
For good reason, this season has practically become synonymous with the softer wines made from Gamay and Pinot Noir.
Gamay is primarily known for being the grape of Beaujolais in Southern Burgundy. It initially rose to popularity in the U.S. because of Beaujolais Nouveau – a specific style of Beaujolais characterized by juicy, simple flavors of candied red fruit. If you see it, drink on arrival. On the other end, there are wonderfully complex wines from Beaujolais, which boast bright flavors of cranberry, strawberry, and nutmeg combined with an approachable structure. The Chateau des Jacques Morgon from Louis Jadot is a delightful example that is delicious now, but can show even more complexity if you’re planning ahead for next year.
Pinot Noir is known for being a slightly more serious wine. After all, the list of the most expensive wines in the world are often topped with Pinots from Burgundy. However, for us normal folk, its flavors of ripe red cherries, dried roses and cinnamon can be enticing at several price points. One of my favorites harkens from the famed Chateau Buena Vista. Sourcing primarily from Sonoma County, the Chateau Buena Vista North Coast Pinot Noir is a classic California Pinot. Its plush fruit and medium body pair beautifully with a bird of your choice or even a cedar plank salmon. The inclusion of any baking spices serves to highlight the wine’s drinkable charm.
For the adventurers among us who seek out the narrower paths, I recommend trying a delicious bottle of Grenache or a friendly Moscato d’Asti.
Grenache originally made its name in the hallowed ground of Chateauneuf-du-Pape in southern France. There, it is often blended to make a lush, dense and full-bodied wine that matches perfectly with beef roasts and fattier meats. Winemakers are now crafting fantastic examples of Grenache all over the world. One such example comes from Joel Gott. His Alakai Grenache seduces you with its warm aromas of baked cherries, black plums and a touch of pepper. Pairing it with pepper-crusted beef is sure to be a memorable meal.
Lastly, I recommend to you one of the most amiable wines I have ever encountered: Moscato d’Asti. While Moscato is a popular grape/category that can be made in a range of styles, Moscato d’Asti can only be made in the region of Asti and is off-dry to slightly sweet. It is a perfect wine for the unacquainted wine drinker but a great reminder of how delicious an off-dry wine can be. Castello del Poggio’s Moscato d’Asti leaps from the glass with aromas of ripe peaches, pineapples, jasmine, and orange blossoms. Once you get past the exotic aromas, it is like drinking a fruit salad with bubbles. Enjoy it with a range of desserts or poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Cheers!
About the Author
Kelsey Beck Fernandez, DipWSET is a 16-year veteran in the beverage industry, including 12 years in hospitality and 4 years in distribution with Young’s Market Company. He holds a Diploma Certificate (certified by the Wine & Spirits Education Trust), as is well as an Advanced Sommelier (certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers), and a French Wine Scholar (certified by the Wine Scholar Guild). Currently he is the Manager for the Southern California Wine Education Team. Kelsey’s passion for all things wine has inspired him to learn and to taste through as many regions and styles of wine as he can get his hands on. He personally loves sharing unique flavors and peculiar producers with family and friends.