It's finally October, and our crisp, cooler weather serves as a harbinger of harvest season. This time of year also has our mouths watering for fall's more luxurious, soul-satisfying menus. And you know what that means, right? Richer food calls for wines that can step up to the challenge. If this summer's soaring temps demanded quaffable varietals capable of quenching your thirst, autumn's wines have an even bigger task: to satisfy your soul. Here, the four bottles we're craving more than most.
Guy Drew Riesling 2009 ($16): Have you noticed that riesling is most assuredly having a moment? In fact, 2011 might just be the year that finally sees people embracing this delectably refreshing, food-loving wine. And if you've been looking for a way support the Colorado wine biz - and if you aren't, you should be - then here's the perfect bottle to get you started. Although we've seen some pretty serious inconsistencies across many local wineries, Guy Drew is one who has yet to let us down. In this particular manifestation, riesling shows us why it's so perfect for fall; simultaneously piquant and kissed with sweetness, it's like a honeycrisp apple in wine form.
Chehalem '3 Vineyards' Pinot Gris 2009 ($17): If lively, invigorating pinot grigio is summer's quintessential white wines, then pinot gris - its genetic sibling - is surely its autumnal equal. Lush and sexy, this medium-plus bodied white offers plenty of mineral-based acidity and tastes of pear and pineapple, with just a whiff of clove-y spice. Although its legendary versatility makes this a grape to pair with everything from salmon and ahi-filled rangoons to a grilled chicken sandwich, we especially adore it alongside a bowl of diver scallop and corn risotto. Fall comfort in a glass.
The Infinite Monkey Theorem Cabernet Franc 2010 ($29): Cabernet franc may be the single varietal whose characteristics embody perfectly everything a harvest season wine should be. Even though it's technically one of the genetic parents of cabernet sauvignon (along with sauvignon blanc), your taste buds might have you thinking cab franc seems more like its younger brother. In this case, the boys at IMT have managed to turn it into a pretty stellar wine despite its youthful vintage, by coaxing all the best elements of the grape (rich, dark red berry fruit; leafy, herb-y green notes) into the bottle. If you've been a ride-or-die cab sauv groupie, give your palate a rest with this lower alcohol and tannin-based jewel of a red.
Ikus Rapel Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($9): Chile, home to the Rapel Valley, is looked down upon by certain peeps who prefer their wines to come from Argentina, the other side of the Andes. Sadly, they're missing out on some pretty fantastic juice, particularly that which is made from the cabernet sauvignon varietal -- and it's yours for the taking at comically low prices. This robust, pull-no-punches red will be just the thing you'll want to pour with every meal from your Monday night football cheesesteak to that prime rib you're carving for Saturday's dinner party. Because you know what? Cheap and delicious is our favorite fall wine pairing of all.
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