It’s All Right Rhode Island, Fall is Pretty Great, Too: Wines to Welcome Fall

Autumn arrives in an instant. Suddenly it’s twilight at 6:30pm. That “this is fall” moment bites and embraces with the cool breeze, enters through the skin and turns into waves of emotion. Summer’s over, and it’s time for root vegetables, apples, blankets and pumpkin everything.

We eat and drink differently. Gin finds itself tucked into the back of the cabinet, muscled out by bourbon. Beers are darker and maltier. Apple cider replaces pink lemonade. And the wine! So many styles of red wine to enjoy. This is not to forget whites and rose (a wine yearning to be a year round presence), but it is the savory and rustic, the rich and hearty red, that stands front and center in the fall.

I rinse, not scrub, root vegetables so I don’t forget they come from the earth. The perfect pairing is the rustic wines of Southwest France. Like carrots and potatoes, they are full of earth and minerals. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find a delicious cahors (both Clos La Coutale and Clos Siguiers are great examples under $20). Further wine shop sleuthing leads to finer gems of the southwest, from little-known regions like Gaillac, Fronton and Marcillac. Like the names of the places from which they hail, these are reds with edges and country charm. Few are imported; the prices are reasonable, so feel free picking blindly when seeing a wine from these areas. However, the Domaine du Cros Marcillac ($15) is a true star and bargain.

_coudoulet_rouge_2013_14011_640Cooling weather and heartier food warrants a wine of more richness. The wines of Argentina, especially malbec, fit the bill. New types of wines, in both style and substance, are adding depth to a category once full of simple, extracted fruit bombs. Both the MDZ ($12) and Vaglio Aggie ($18) are malbecs that show the richness of the grape, as well as spice, depth and character. These wines complement instead of overpower the meal. If choosing to up the celebration a bit, the wines from the Southern Rhone are comfort food in their own right. Chateau de  Beaucastel’s Coudoulet ($30), might be a Cotes du Rhone, but its pedigree and taste are much more Chateauneuf du Pape. The Domaine du Gour de Chaule Gigondas ($35) is another wine worth cuddling up with. Its rich grenache fruit and soft tannins are sure to return the embrace.

It’s fall, though, not winter. Sometimes a wine with more finesse, but with all of the savory, is required. Burgundy is the answer. There are thousands of choices, and many an expensive dud. The easiest and best solution is to ask for quick guidance from the wine buyer. Chances are they know and love each of their burgundies, and can quickly find a wine for your budget. Be careful, though, as asking about burgundy with a wine lover can be an hour-long time trap.

Fall and zinfandel are also congenial companions. Skip the puns and 16% cocktail wines. We are striving for comfort, not comatose. Broc’s Vine Star and Bedrock’s Old Vine Zinfandel (both $30) are homages to the grape. The former is the essence of zin: juicy, vivacious and gulpable. Bedrock’s is a classic old school zin, rich and robust, but with an elegance and refreshing acidity.

We will mention whites last, for the afterthought they are this time of year. But not forgotten. Rhone varietals like Viognier, Marsanne, and Rousanne are perfect.  Bonny Doon’s Cigare Blanc ($22) is both complex and yummilicious. Recent vintages are the best yet, full of melon and honeyed yellow fruits, almost waxy in texture.

We sometimes struggle to bid adieu to the playground that is summer in Rhode Island, but let fall enfold you and start planning an opulent feast and drink in a celebration of blankets, the leaves changing color and cool daytime breezes!

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