Fall has always been my favorite season. Growing up, I would look forward to going back to school, picking out pumpkins at the farm and trick or treating on Halloween night. As an adult, I find myself grateful for the return of football, Thanksgiving dinner, and annual harvest. While summer is all about sitting on a porch pounding rose, fall to me is all about bundling up in a comfy sweater, sitting around the table about to devour a plate of turkey or sitting in front of the TV with a bowl of chili before Monday night football. No matter which of these scenarios you prefer, it’s obvious you need a glass of red wine to accompany your meal. Today, I present you with my 5 essential wines for fall.
2012 Trisaetum Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon)
This is a classic Oregon pinot, one that you could easily age for several more years. Oregon Pinot has become a must-have at my family’s Thanksgiving table. This one is definitely fruit-forward and you can taste a lot of red fruits - pomegranate, raspberry, and cranberry. I like Pinot for this American holiday because the light tannic structure of the wine isn’t overpowering and whoever spent 5 hours in the kitchen will be thankful you’re excited about both the wine and the main dish.
Handley is one of the wineries I probably visit 5 times a year, despite the 2.5-hour journey to get there (during which I almost always get carsick). One of the primary reasons that journey is worth it is to get my hands on this single-vineyard pinot. The flavor profile on this is entirely different than the Oregon pinot - it takes on a much bigger, bolder approach with notes of cherry cola and a little cinnamon. I’ve seen this actually paired nicely with grilled steak and would recommend this pinot for any end of summer/early fall BBQ before your grill goes into hibernation.
2014 Orin Swift Machete
My cellar tracker app says you can drink this wine now until 2030, but why wait? Orin Swift is famous for creating one of California’s most acclaimed blends “The Prisoner,” but has expanded to his own label as well with a St.Helena tasting room. This wine is a blend of Petite Sirah, Grenache, and Syrah with notes of Earl Grey, plum and gingerbread. An expressive wine, I would recommend this to pair with any lamb or roasted pork dish at your next family gathering.
Oh, Unti how I love thee. Unti primarily does Italian varietals, all sourced from estate fruit in the Dry Creek Valley, and they do them extremely well. This blend of Sangiovese and Montepulciano is classic Italian and balanced. High in tannins, I find that nothing will ever be a better pairing for this than homemade bolognese. If you’re like me and love having a lazy Sunday where you sit around watching football, pull out the slow cooker, make a batch of sauce and, when all is said and done in 8 hours, treat yourself to a bowl of pasta and a glass of this.
2013 Turley Rattlesnake Ridge
Larry Turley is thought to be one of the pioneers in bringing back Zinfandel. He sources Zinfandel grapes in places typically known for Cabernet, like this vineyard in Napa’s Howell Mountain Region. Zinfandel gets a bad rep for being hot and overly tannic, but Turley’s are balanced and don’t taste as if they have 15%+ alcohol (even though they do). I challenge you to find fall foods that you CAN’T pair with Zinfandel. That said, one of my go-to pairings for fall is a hearty chili and a glass of this.
There’s really no need to mourn the end of rose season when you have reds like these. And, remember, a glass of wine has 120 calories and a Pumpkin Spice latte has 380 (so you can basically justify 3 glasses at a time ;)). Raise a glass to fall!
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