September 29, 2020

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There’s more than one way to ditch white (wine) after Labor Day

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Labor Day, on the first Monday in September, traditionally marks the end of summer for Americans and brings with it the fashion convention of no longer wearing white.

As the temperature starts to go down, there is a similar convention with wine. Consumers start moving away from white wines and begin gravitating toward the reds to complement the cooler temperatures and seasonal foods.

But that isn’t the only way to move away from white wine. Rosé and sparkling wines, in particular, have become generally accepted as year-round libations rather than just summertime, holiday, or celebratory beverages.

“Rosé is definitely enjoyable for more than just the summer months,” says Nicole McAllister, sommelier at the double Michelin-starred restaurant Jean-Georges in New York City. “In the fall, I’d opt for something with a little bit more body, like a Tavel [a dark pink-hued rosé]. Still thirst quenching and delicious, but more robust.”

For those looking for some more traditional fall-friendly wines, Sarah Plath, former assistant wine director for The NoMad Bar and Restaurant in New York, suggests cooler vintages can bring out a mix of spiced and savory flavors in red Burgundy after five or more years of age. “Cooler vintages can really surprise you as an underdog,” she says. “That tiny amount of bitterness present in fuller-bodied rosés pairs really well with fall herbs like rosemary and sage.”

Here are some suggested bottles to consider popping open this fall, many of which pair nicely with your cooler weather comfort foods.

Santi Ventale: The Santi winery is situated in near Lake Garda, one of the most respected winemaking regions in Italy. The winery meticulously sources its wood for aging, in which the Ventale is aged for 18 months in 70% oak, 20% chestnut, and 10% cherrywood barrels. The result is a deep red wine with notes of dark fruit and velvety tannins mimicking berry jams spread on a slice of toasted bread. SRP: $16.

Hecht & Bannier: A boutique winery in France’s epicenter for rosé production, Hecht & Bannier’s bottle exemplifies rosé from Provence with a refreshing and floral wine. H&B Provence is a great rosé for the fall, when you haven’t turned back to heavy, muscular reds yet, says the winery’s owner, Gregory Hecht: “I always see it as a great pick for Thanksgiving. Its fruit character and vivid expression pair great with turkey. Rosé is the best of both worlds, and it is a perfect alternative for the traditional combo of turkey and Pinot Noir.” SRP: $18.

El Esteco: Bodega El Esteco is located in Argentina’s Calchaquí Valley, known as the world’s highest growing region for wine. The Cabernet Sauvignon is harvested from an elevation over 6,000 feet. High sun exposure, low humidity, and broad thermal amplitude make the Calchaquí Valley an exceptional wine region. Garnet red in color with an elegant, spicy nose, this wine is ripe and round in the mouth with black fruit, chocolate notes, and balanced oak. SRP: $25.

Château Fuissé: This estate dates back to 1604 and has been in the Vincent family for five generations. This bottle of red is a clean, dark, and ruby hue, with fresh fruit on the nose and characteristic flower aromas of ripe red fruits (wild strawberries, red current, and raspberries). Expect lots of finesse and soft fruits in the mouth, while crisp with good intensity and length. Excellent aging potential up to seven to 10 years. SRP: $29.

WillaKenzie Estate: A classic expression of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, this particular savory blend boasts rustic tannins and a palate with notes of red and black fruit. This Pinot Noir pairs well with salmon, roasted poultry, and pork loin.  SRP: $30

Vivanterre: Fashion team Rosie and Max Assoulin recently launched a wine named Vivanterre (which translates from French to English as “Living Earth”). Produced in the Auvergne region of France, the brand is debuting with two wines to start: the Gamay MVB (made with Gamay grapes sourced from Moulin au Vent in Beaujolais) and the Orange Contact SGU (a special blend of Sylvaner, Gewürztraminer, and Ugni Blanc grapes). Orange wines haven’t quite become the new rosé yet, but they are certainly popular with somms and wine nerds. This natural wine is a good bottle to start for anyone new to the style. The Orange Contact SGU offers flavors of white peach, lychee, and tropical fruits with notes of white flowers, black tea, and ginger. SRP: $32.

Olivier Leflaive: The Leflaive family has had roots in Burgundy since 1717 and produces one of the finest examples of Puligny Montrachet. This bottle presents an incredible value within its category and is sourced from a variety of terroir within the Côte de Beaune with a large percentage sourced within the village of Pommard. A flattering nose with aromas of small red berries (especially strawberry and raspberry). A fresh and elegant palate with crunchy fruits and fine tannins. SRP: $37.

La Crema: The 2017 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is full with aromas of black plum, raspberry, and forest floor, complemented by flavors of bing cherry and sassafras and hints of baking spice. This 100% Pinot Noir bottle pairs with a full table spread, from grilled and roasted meats as well as pasta Bolognese to prosciutto, mushrooms, and cured black olives. SRP: $40.

Justin: Produced on the California Central Coast, the 2017 Isosceles is made with the same care as the highest quality, traditional Bordeaux red wines. Also the flagship wine for the Paso Robles winery, the 2017 vintage is a blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 8% Merlot grapes. Expect a full-bodied wine with a palate full of ripe black fruit and barrel spices, and it’s ready to drink right out of the gate or after a few years in the cellar. SRP: $76.

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