By Craig Allen
There’s something about fall that just puts people in a good mood – the crisp air, temperate weather and nature’s beautiful changing colors are some of the reasons. But for the wine lovers, this time of year is filled with a veritable cornucopia of “other” reasons to feel joyful: a new harvest season, new releases from your favorite wineries and many opportunities to incorporate new wines into some of your old autumn traditions.
Winemakers, industry experts and people with purple feet are all in agreement about the 2007 harvests in California and New York – the nearly perfect growing conditions this spring and summer will likely result in some of the best juice in 10 years! Look to the bountiful harvest in your own garden as an indicator of great things to come out of New York. But, alas, these current harvests are for wines that will not be available until next fall. Good things come to those who wait.
If you really can’t wait a whole year, perhaps you can wait a couple weeks until the third Thursday in November, the day that the 2007 Beaujolais Nouveau wines hit the market. Beaujolais Nouveaus are light, fruity red wines which are very easy to drink and are best served slightly chilled. This wine is a perfect choice for people wanting to transition into red wines from white wines. Just don’t wait too long to enjoy them, as they are meant to be consumed within a few months of production.
Thankfully, every fall there is an abundance of new wines from past harvests released that you don’t even have to wait a couple weeks for. Much of the grapes harvested in 2006, along with some older vintages that have been developing character “in the barrel”, will make their debut this season. The 2006 vintage in California was another exceptional crop. With the rather moist, rainy winter, wineries were hoping for a mild and warm spring…and they got it! The Russian River/Sonoma County wines should be excellent, both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. They had perfect weather and should rise to the top of the other 2006 California appellations. This is one of the areas to watch for and buy before the ratings come out.
Winemaker and Capital Region native Joseph Carr will add a Pinot Noir to his line-up to supplement new vintages of his very well-received Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc wines. This first Carr Pinot Noir, the 2006 vintage, is made from Carneros fruit, and only 1,000 cases were produced. It is very European in style, as are all his wines. This Pinot Noir is very elegant and balanced, with Burgundian–style earthiness and is slightly lower in alcohol, as is the French viticulture influence. With how scarce good quality Pinot is, this one will be snapped up quick, as it will be selling in the low $20s.
New releases of your favorite Cabernet or Chardonnay are exciting, but do yourself a favor and add a couple new types of wine to your basket this year. Why not experiment with a Viognier, the “other white wine”? Though relatively rare and exotic, Viognier is worth tracking down, as it is a fantastic choice for this season. Cline Vineyards and Spencer Roloson both have a formidable and affordable offering. Full of floral aromas, spice, peach and apricot, Viognier pairs well with many dishes seen this time of year, including Thanksgiving dinner.
If you can’t seem to find Viognier, go with a Gewurztraminer. Its depth of character and complexities make it a wonderful choice to pair with turkey and all the fixins’. As the myriad of dishes coloring your plate that day come together in blissful harmony in your mouth, add a sip of either of these wines and take your taste experience to a new level. But leave yourself room for a slice of pumpkin pie and wash it down with that last mouthful of Gewurztraminer. The spice explosion on your tongue may even linger all the way through the turkey sandwich you’ll eat three hours later.
So surprise your old friends and family with a new taste on the table this Thanksgiving and give yourselves something new to talk about…unless you are actually looking forward to Uncle Larry’s umpteenth recount of “the perfect Turkey of 1987”. If that’s the case, then by all means, break out the Blue Nun and Riunite.
Craig Allen is the owner of All Star Wine & Spirits in Latham Farms. For more information call 220.9463 or visit www.allstarwine.com.