The wines of fall
Drink them by the fire, at the game, on the lake
By Tim Protzman
Fall is a great time
of year to enjoy wine. Itís warm enough to allow you to appreciate a
chilled glass of your favorite white, and the evenings are nippy enough
to settle in front of a fire and uncork a deep, rich red. Whichever you
choose thereís a great wine waiting for you that will accompany any
The great thing
about outdoor activities this time of year is that there are no bugs.
And itís cooler so, if you are a sweathog like me, you donít get so
damp. Some fall activities require a bit of physical exertion, like
mountain biking for instance, and that doesnít mix too well with
alcohol. So wait until after to pull the cork.
This weekend I took
a three-mile hike around a neighborhood lake. The leaves were still
green but there were other signs of fall. Geese honked overhead. A lone
osprey, on its way south, circled the shallows looking for fish. I
wondered if it liked trout or bass. I had to be careful where I stepped
because a host of newts and salamanders were heading down from the
mountain and into the lake. They were very colorful: brilliant and shiny
brown and burnt orange.
They made me think
of two good wines for this time of year; both of which have cute little
lizards on the labels.
Vale Shiraz is a spicy brooding wine thatís full of power and taste.
This deep red is
perfect with roasts and chili and has hints of persimmon, plum and a bit
of a fireball aftertaste. The McLaren Vale is a rich wine region with
more than 80 vineyards clustered in a valley between the Lofty Mountains
and the ocean, south of Adelaide, South Australia. DíArenberg and
Rosemount also have holdings there. Shingleback Shiraz isnít cheap. Itís
become a hit and now it runs about $24.99 a bottle, but it will make an
after-hiking party special. Itís great for taking the chill off.
More affordable but
equally good is Thirsty Lizard, which offers a chardonnay, a shiraz and
a white shiraz for $8.99 a bottle. The chardonnay is beefy enough to
stand up to tomato sauces, but I like the white shiraz (which is
actually a blush) for light fall afternoon drinking. It has hints of
raspberry and lemon verbena in a slightly effervescent texture. My only
complaint is the lizard got a makeover and now looks a little too buff
This year we Red Sox
fans got back to normal. Since there wonít be a championship again this
year, Iíll have to make do with soccer, football and cricket.
Two perfect wines
for tailgating parties are merlot and sauvignon blanc. Theyíre light and
fresh and go well with finger foods, which is all I can pull together
for a pre-kickoff party. And, yes, I know some of the tailgating set
really go all out but Iím there for the game, not a five-course dinner.
For a Saturday
afternoon game Iíd go with a Washington State Merlot. Structured, a bit
dry, but with generous fruit. Itís just the right sophistication level
to go with fancy hors díoeuvres or a bologna sandwich.
Covey Run Barrel
Select Merlot, $9.99, is a nice middle-of-the-road wine that tastes of
quince, currants and Concord grapes with a nice bouquet that has a touch
of pencil shavings to it.
A higher-end, more
Pomerol-like Washington merlot, with the price to go with it, is
Leonetti 2003 Merlot. This blended French-style wine (Merlot 82 percent,
Cabernet Sauvignon 7 percent, Cabernet Franc 4 percent, Carmenere 4
percent, Sangiovese 3 percent) will be the hit of any gathering and set
you back about $55, if you can find it. The beauty of this wine is the
way it reveals its flavor layers, from first sip to finish. Itís from
the ultra hot Walla Walla Appellation in the eastern part of the state.
For a light white,
go with Kendall Jackson Vintnerís Reserve Sauvignon Blanc. Itís good,
itís cheap and the other 11 million people who buy it canít be wrong.
Cost is $7.99 with hints of citrus and a refreshing flavor.
This hasnít been a
great year for boating. Gas prices have put a damper on cruising but you
can still get out there and paddle. This is my favorite time of year for
kayaking and canoeing, and since these vessels are people-powered you
can use the savings to pick up some wine.
Picture a quiet
morning on a glass-still lake. The sun coming over the trees and the
chalky fog slowly turning transparent and then vanishing. That must be
how it feels to be a grape in Napa, where the sea breezes gently
enshroud the vines with mist and fog until the bright Californian sun
pushes through. So for fall boating, look to California for an exciting
aprŤs-boating refresher. Here are a few whites thatíll make you want to
shout ďLand Ho.Ē
Ferrari- Carano Fume
Blanc, $17.99. Full-bodied with watercress, lemon and pineapple fruit
and a lightly puckery finish that makes it the perfect thirst quencher.
Grigio, $13.49. Great with food. Estanciaís a consistent quality
vineyard located in the Monterey area. Reliable, cost-effective and
sometimes exciting. Their Pinot Grigio comes alive with melon, cheese
and un-sauced meats.
Gewurztraminer Early Harvest, $12.99. Gewurztraminer probably wonít be
Americaís wine sweetheart anytime soon. Itís a little sweet and it needs
the right food. But if youíre doing a turkey or even a turkey sandwich
this wine will cozy right up and provide a Wow! experience. Peaches and
cream with a hint of honey and a dried apple finish.