Like everything else in the summer, wine drinking is easy. And the answer to every question, at least the wine-related ones, might as well be rosé. But now that fall is here, it’s time to get to more serious drinking. It turns out that cooler weather does indeed translate into bigger wine sales.
“People dig deeper and buy more serious [read: expensive] wines in the fall and early winter,” noted Robert Bohr, co-owner of Charlie Bird in New York.
He’s one of seven of the country’s best sommeliers from around the country who told us what we should be drinking this fall. At least one, Chicago’s Ryan Arnold, surprised us. One of his wines is Italian rosé. “It’s no longer seasonal,” he declared. “Rosé is for all year long.”
Daniel Bjugstad, Sommelier, Pasquale Jones, New York
"I love drinking wine in the fall. You can still enjoy lighter ones, but the denser and earthier wines really become satisfying with a little snap in the air."
- 2012 Domaine Bachelet Côte de Nuits-Villages, France ($55). For fall, I immediately think of a specific breed of savory red Burgundy, exemplified by Bachelet. The bracing quality of this wine's fruit aromas and the pumpkin-patch-earthiness always seem most fitting for a cool autumn evening—preferably I am wearing a sweater. They don’t make much wine, so even their 'humble' Côte de Nuits-Villages is thoughtfully crafted and pretty accessible.
- 2012 Chateau Carbonnieux Pessac-Leognan Blanc, France ($42). I’m always impressed by the dogged determination of summer diners to guzzle Sancerre. I like Sancerre, but it's September and it's time to move on. The best way to ween off this habit is to drink Bordeaux blanc, which has smoky, mushroomy notes that balance the ripe sauvignon blanc fruitiness. It happens to go really well with roasted vegetables we have available in late summer and early fall.
Shelley Lindgren, Owner, A16, San Francisco
- 2010 Cigliuti Serraboella Barbaresco, Piedmont, Italy ($56). When I think fall wine, I think nebbiolo. Red rose, white pepper, black cherry, and tamarind flavors—this Barbaresco is complex and great with a range of foods from pastas to proteins. It’s also a great way to kick off truffle season.
- 2015 Gabbas Manzanile Vermentino, Sardinia, Italy ($14). This white has incredible verve, with flavors of lemon verbena, white nectarine, and river rock minerality. It’s refreshing, whether you’re drinking it in the heat of summer or chilly fall weather (which is basically like summer in foggy SF, where I am), and ideal for salads, antipasti, and just drinking.
- 2014 Poe Winery Pinot Nouveau, Sonoma ($24). It's always great to see a trend among California winemakers. Right now, there’s a renewed popularity for gamay and Beaujolais. Right in line with that is Poe winery, which releases their Pinot Nouveau the third Thursday of November every year. It's terrific for one-pot dishes like stews and braises, with its wild strawberry and cranberry and medium-body appeal.
Bobby Stuckey, Co-owner, Frasca Food & Wine, Boulder, Colo.
- 2012 Produttori del Barbaresco, Piedmont, Italy ($33). Just a couple weeks ago, I could not get enough summery whites and tomatoes. Now it’s time to shift, and I’m trading in for what might be the ultimate fall wine, nebbiolo. This one is super-fine and elegant and a benchmark in those nebbiolo flavors of dried rose petals, licorice, and dried fruits.
- 2013 Monier Perreol Saint Joseph, Rhone, France ($31). This syrah from the Northern Rhone pulls me in so much during fall. You see dishes getting earthier and richer, and this is a perfect wine for our first snowy nights in Boulder—dark-fruited but by no means heavy.
- 2015 Edi Keber Collio Bianco, Friuli, Italy ($20). The whites that are best in the fall are the ones with more texture and weight. I’m going to say that this white from right on the Italian-Slovenian border is the perfect fall white wine. Made of a blend of Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia Istriana. It's super-charged and rich but still very elegant.
Helen Johannesen, co-owner, Jon & Vinny’s, Los Angeles
- 2015 Château Cambon Beajolais, France ($20). Gamay is, for sure, the cliché wine for fall, especially once people start harping on about what they are going to be serving at their Thanksgiving table. But for me, even if it's trite, its true. Gamay is a red wine I drink all year round and double down in the fall when I find a good bottle—like this one, which was born in a forgotten vineyard of old vine gamay, between Brouilly and Morgon, purchased by three winemaking friends. It’s fresh, juicy and textured.
- 2013 Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet Clisson, Loire, France ($25). Haters are going to say that muscadet is a summer wine. However, after all of the plump rosé consumption, I think that this zippy white is what everyone is secretly craving. It’s from a very specific vineyard, Clisson, and it personifies dry wine is the most electric way.
- 2014 Broc Cellars Carbonic Carignan, Alexander Valley, California ($29). "Carbonic" is when grapes are fermented while still inside their skin, bringing all the small, little, juicy worlds to life. It captures a certain energy that makes this red especially perfect for fall. It’s juicy, bright, but still a little taut with energy—and super food-friendly. And in spite of what I just said about gamay: This Carignan is going to be nipping at the heels of gamay all fall.
Laura Maniec, Owner, Corkbuzz, New York
- NV Robert Barbichon Blanc de Noirs Brut, Champagne, France ($44). You might not have heard of this Champagne, but it’s amazingly tasty with notes of crushed rock, bruised pear, ginger, and smoke. It’s crisp, refreshing, but densely textured and super-complex. I’m forever on a Champagne campaign, and this wine is great with most of the dishes that you want to eat in fall.
- 2013 Domaine Bersan Chablis, France ($22). Chablis is one of my favorite regions in the world for white wine. This white is made from vines that are an average of 35-years-old and the flavors are pretty rich and flavorful. You get notes of apples, pears, Parmesan, and mushrooms. Have it with a good mushroom dish and definitely with cheese.
- 2010 Nervi Nebbiolo, Piedmont, Italy ($29). From the oldest recognized winery in Gattinara in Piedmont, this red gives you flavors of tart red and black fruit—raspberry, strawberry, cherry—with dried violet and truffle. It’s a classic nebbiolo, and it’s great with all kinds of meaty dishes and stews. Fun Fact: While traveling in Piedmont, President Thomas Jefferson had two barrels of wine from Gattinara loaded onto an American warship and sent to the White House.
Robert Bohr, Co-owner, Charlie Bird, New York
- 2011 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy ($72). When the weather gets cooler, and I eat more hearty pasta ragus and braised meats, the wines I drink get a little richer, too. Brunello from Il Poggione always delivers. It’s an elegant, classically styled Tuscan red with bright red fruit, sexy, earthy aromas, and firm but smooth tannins. It’s a sure bet and also good value in a touristy region of Italy, where it’s easy to make some wine mistakes.
- 2013 Comtes Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Les Porusots, Burgundy, France ($145). In September and early October, I’m thinking about white Burgundy, especially the more intense versions from exceptional producers like Lafon (I think about Domaine Roulot, too). This wine is plush while not being too chubby; there’s generous fruit with vibrant acidity and that je ne sais quoi terroir thing that makes wine from Burgundy so special. These wines are deliciously useful when you’re moving your seafood from the backyard grill to the kitchen stove. So keep Meursault in mind when you’ve got lobster in butter or roasted turbot or are just watching a game of football get interesting.
- 2012 Vietti Nebbiolo Perbacco, Piedmont, Italy ($26). After drinking light reds all summer, I’m putting this wine in heavy rotation, both for myself and on the by-the-glass list at Charlie Bird. It's a light-colored but medium-bodied, complex red for dishes like roasted pork shoulder, spiced duck breast, or porcini mushroom pasta. Perbacco, even in its youth, behaves like a smooth, mature Barolo: you get the snappy fruit, spice, and menthol with the grippy tannins you want and need from a nebbiolo—but all polished and drinkable and (oh, yeah) also affordable.
Ryan Arnold, Wine Director, Lettuce Entertain You, Chicago
- 2015 Cerasuolo Tiberio Abruzzo, Italy ($16). Of course, rosé is always a huge seller for us in the summer and a lot of them are made to drink on a hot day, but it’s no longer a seasonal wine: It’s relevant all year long. Some rosés are serious wines. They have a higher alcohol content, and they're richer and well-structured and can handle fall flavors extremely well. Plus, when you get a well-made bottle with a little bit of age, it gets more complex. You don't just want to drink it and taste the strawberries.
- 2014 Enfield “Heron Lake” Chardonnay, California ($30). My summer was filled with Chablis. But as it gets cooler, I like Chardonnay because it’s got great acidity and focus and a little more meat on its bones. Plus, everyone is looking for smaller, cooler producers.
- 2013 Rezzadore Tai “Monte Oseliera” Veneto, Italy ($17). This Italian red is pretty light and not too high in alcohol, but it is spiced and earthy, while also being bright-flavored. It pairs well with Middle Eastern flavors, fall vegetables, fish, and lighter meats.
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