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Fall Wines

Monday, June 15, 2009

This is the first time in awhile where I was asked to write an article about a particular subject, and I probably needed it.  As the seasons are changing, we are being affected by the changes in the amount of daylight and the amounts of heat and humidity, which finds us cooling off and down, but not without the all of the joys that spring and summer brought to us.  It's that time of year where our nights start to get a little colder, and even the days start to show a little bit of breeze, as even while we can see the sun, we aren't being warmed by it unless we are standing totally in it.  The seasons change, as do our moods, and we need to find some wines that will perfectly complement it.

The perfect album for this article is playing in the background (El Camino by Adriana Evans), and fall brings a time of reflection and introspection.  Thoughts of happier days, lost loves, smiles and laughs remembered.  And in that, while you're not in a gloomy mood, you are in a serene mood, a mood which should be accompanied by a nice glass [if not a bottle] of the matching vino.  Fall is that time when you can easily listen to some blues, or some laid back jazz filled with some nice horns (trumpets, trombones and saxophones… and bass clarinet if you can find it).  It's time to put away the happy wines, and start enjoying those bouquets that ready you for saving up for the winter months.  These wines will switch the mood into a more serious phase, before you have to prepare for daylight savings time, shoveling snow, scraping ice, and high heat bills.

Starting out with white wines, it's time to move beyond the regular varietals that you are used to, be they either white or red.  I would go with Viognier, Albarino and Pinot Gris for the whites, with maybe Torrentes and Chenin Blanc bringing up the rear.  Oh, yes you can still enjoy Chardonnay, but maybe try a Chablis; it's the same grape, but done in a different style.  Viognier is truly an interesting grape, but I have no seen it tamed so well as by Christine Andrew, which is a sublabel of Ironstone Vineyards out in California.  For Albarino, I would go with Codorníu, S.A's The Spanish Quarter "White", which is made of Albarino and Chardonnay.  It's inexpensive and a nice delight.

While Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same grape, I find Pinot Gris having much more in robust character and complexity.  I would recommend Kim Crawford's 2007 Marlborough Pinot Gris from Australia (don't get their East Coast Pinot Grigio from New Zealand), Arcane Cellars Pinot Gris 2008 (Oregon), Willm Pinot Gris (France).  However, on the flipside, I would suggest an Old Plains Fun House Pinot Grigio 2008 (Australia) to which I rated a ten.

There are some nice white blends to be considered, like Shoofly Buzz Cut (Australia), Sokol Blosser's Evolution (Oregon), Seven Daughters' White (US) and Camus Vineyards Conundrum (California).

Blush wines are really not in for the fall, unless you find something nice made from Shiraz, Tempranillo or Muscat (Crios de Susana Balboa on the latter).

With the reds, I want to actually open you up to some things that might not have had before.  I'd like to start with Tempranillo, which normally produces a dry red wine that you know as Rioja or Crianza (same grape and wine, just different lengths of aging).  If you like dry, then this is your bet.  However, there is a Spanish Quarter Red that is made with this grape and Cabernet Sauvignon; Ramon Bilboa Volteo is also a wonderful rendering of this combination.  Also, Miguel Torres Celeste Blue Tempranillo 2006 is one of the smoothest Tempranillo's that I have ever had, and I would pick up a case if I were you.

Carmenere is also a great choice, as it's not Malbec (but was confused with it in South America up until a short while ago), and with this I would recommend a Montgras 2007 Carmenere Reserva.

While I am not pushing traditional varietals, I will mention two beauties.  One is a Lapis Luna's Romanza, made of 87% Zinfandel and 13% Great Valley Sangiovese.  I need it, I love it; it is heaven in a bottle.  Mountain View Vintners 2006 Clockspring Zinfandel is also succulent.

Out there and different, but great are Telavi Akhasheni 2005 and Kindzmarauli.  Both are red wines that make you believe that you're drinking a deeper white wine.  They also make a white wine, Tvishi 2005, which is also phenomenal.  I would tell you to definitely try a nice Salice Salentino, which is from Italy, made from Malvasia Nero and Negro Amaro, and usually has an air of spice to it.  Negro Amaro is also a great grape in itself.

For all of you boss players out there, start seeking out Chinato, an Italian dessert wine made with the chinato root giving it some decadent spice.  A nice Ripasso would be nice, or you could up the ante with an Amarone.  Lastly, Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito (passito means sweet, if you don't see this on the label, then you are getting the very dry secco style).

And I can't leave out bubbly.  For this, try Marsecco, a semi-sweet sparkling red made from the Marzimano grape (Castle of Dracula is the producer, believe it or not).  I have seen a couple nice sparkling Pinot Noirs as well as Shiraz.  Gloria Ferrer's Grand Cuvee is wonderful, and put down the blanc di blancs in favor of the blanc di noirs (most people don't realize that Chardonnay is actually a descendent of Pinot Noir). Try a little Franciacorta; it's essentially the Italian equivalent of champagne with Pinot Bianco(Blanc/Blanco) grapes instead of the Pinot Meunier; their Saten is great.

Well, that's it folks.  This gives you some things to enjoy until winter, and something out of the ordinary.  You have whites, reds, blush/rosé, dessert and sparkling.  I didn't put any fortified wines in such as Port, Sauterne or Sherry, because those are best for winter.

Sorry, I'll leave you with the best Port that I have had.  Heitz Cellars Ink Grade Port.  You'll be thanking me for this one.

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Our Mission: The Black Winer strives to expose African Americans [and others] to wines, without the flair, stuffiness, and airs of elitism and snobbery that you get from sommeliers and high level wine enthusiasts. We believe in finding something that you like the taste of, outside of the basic brands that you have been force-fed over the years through a combination of ethnically targeted advertising, and what people in your family have historically been drinking.

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