As the leaves start to turn, and there’s a chill in the air, and the overly aggressive squirrels in my neighborhood hit you on the head with acorns—btw, am I the only one this has happened to? And no, the acorn didn’t just fall from the tree, it hit me with some force and I can swear I heard the furry little rodent chuckle. Ok, back to the beautiful autumn weather. Time to switch up some of our light, crisp, refreshing vinos for some transitional ones. Nothing too heavy, but with just enough body to sip outside by the firepit.
Here are some of my early fall favorites:
My top pick, because it’s a steal, and because it’s great when the days are still hot, but the nights are cooler, is Rutherford Ranch 2016 Chardonnay. This wine has a lovely, smooth balance of oak and fruit. With notes of pear, vanilla, toast and caramel, it smells and tastes like autumn. I was able to savor this over three days, kept cool in my fridge of course, and it tasted better each day. It’s from California. with an average price $16, but available in many places for just about $12.
If you want to splurge, another delicious California Chardonnay to celebrate fall is Fort Ross Chardonnay 2016. This wine is wonderfully toasty, and balanced with delicious peach, and nectarine fruit, and nice acidity. Retails for about $39.
For reds, my top pick is Willamette Valley 2016 Estate Pinot Noir. Juicy red and brambly fruit, nice earth, licorice, medium bodied, long, dry finish. While you might not call $29 an actual steal, after you taste this Oregon Pinot Noir you might change your mind.
Two splurges I was fortunate enough to try come from Etude Wines. Both of these delectable California Pinot Noirs were dark garnet colors, with leather, earth and light notes of fruit on the nose. On the palate, there was a deliciously full earthiness, resplendent with smooth, ripe, rich, red fruit. Etude 2015 Heirloom Pinot Noir is a luxurious splurge at $110. Etude 2016 Carneros Pinot Noir is a bit less expensive, but no less flavorful, at $47.