September 1st was the first day of meteorological fall and Saturday will be the first day of astronomical fall. No matter which way you look at it, fall is here and I couldn’t be more excited. This is my favorite season for so many reasons. I love the cold fronts coming through with that cool, dry breeze that makes you feel so alive. I love all of the desserts you make from the apples that are in season, and I love fall wines.
While you are more than welcome to drink any wine you like all year-round (especially if your fall is really more of an extended summer like it is in Houston), there are a few wines that just seem to go well with the season, like dry, full-bodied whites and reds with big flavor that aren’t too heavy. Today I have three great options for you to try if you’re looking for a new fall wine.
First up is viognier. I have enjoyed this full-bodied white wine ever since I first tried it at a winery in Virginia. It can be oak aged for a creamier taste like Chardonnay, or it can be left unoaked. Viognier is often described as a slightly less acidic, floral Chardonnay. It originated in southern France and is now grown in several countries, including the U.S., Australia, Italy, and South Africa. The best viogniers are made from grapes grown in sunny places with cool nights. Some of the best wines come from the Rhone Valley in France, Walla Walla in Washington, and Stellenbosch in South Africa. A few options to get you started are the Abeja 2012 Viognier, Alain Jaume et Fils 2010 Domaine Grand Veneur Blanc de Viognier, and the Ridgeback 2008 Viognier.
Cabernet franc is often treated like the “other” cabernet, a less interesting relative of cabernet sauvignon, but it is truly a delicious and versatile wine in its own right. It has nice, medium tannin, which means you can easily drink it alone or with food and it won’t feel like it’s punching you in the mouth like many higher tannin wines do. The flavor profile includes red or black fruit, pepper, and crushed gravel. Good cabernet francs are often aged for 5 or more years and can be found for under $20 a bottle. Some good regions for cabernet franc include the Loire Valley in France, the Sierra Foothills in California, and Tuscany, Italy. If you like Italian wines and want to try cabernet franc, look for a “Super Tuscan.” This is the term often used for cabernet franc sice it is not included in the Italian classification system. Consider trying the Easton 2014 Monarch Mine Vineyards Cabernet Franc, the Chateau du Coudray Montpensier 2016 Le Grand Bouqueteau Reserve, or the Vignamaggio 2006 Cabernet Franc.
Have you ever heard of barbera? It’s not one of the more well-known wines in the U.S. but it is worth searching out if you like high acid, low tannin, fruit forward wines. It’s considered one of the lesser Italian wines, which means that good versions are often less expensive than more common red wines. Since it’s so versatile with a crowd, this is a big win for you. The wine is a little confusing because it’s very dark red, which often denotes a full-bodied wine, but it’s actually rather light-bodied. The vast majority of barbera is grown in Italy, with much smaller amounts grown in the U.S., Australia, and Argentina. To start on your barbera journey, try the Michele Chiarlo 2015 Cipressi, the Castello di Neive 2012 Vigna Santo Stefano, or the Ca’Viola 2015 Brichet.