As the seasons change we look forward to Autumn’s cooler temperatures, heartier fare, and wines to go with all of the above. This Autumn has been a bit unpredictable, with cooler than normal temperatures in the Mountain West and the Pacific Northwest, while hotter temperatures continue in the East Coast and Mid Atlantic regions. So while we can’t just turn the page on seasonal weather, we can hope to find a range of wines to manage the lack of predictability on the part of Mother Nature. By and large these are value priced red wines that will make you wonder why a spendy splurge is necessary.
2016 Santa Julia Tintillo, Mendoza Argentina $11
A wine for when you’re not quite ready to cover the grill and say good bye for the season. This super fresh blend of Bonarda and Malbec (Bonarda is actually a grape known as Douce Noir from the Savoie region in France, and it may be Argentina’s next big thing.) offers a chill-able red wine (yes, that’s allowed) to help you navigate the up and down temperatures as the seasons change. The fruit forward freshness is present on the wines aromatic profile with lots of cut berries and floral notes. It wouldn’t be out of the question to misidentify this as a Beaujolais. The juicy fruit flavors continue into the palate of the wine with fresh red and blue fruits, a note of clove and cola as well. Perfect for late season burgers or even steaks on the grill, probably with a jacket on.
2014 Poggio al Tufo Rompicollo, Tuscany, Italy $13
From a leading Amarone producer, Tomassi comes a sort of value priced spin on a Super Tuscan wine. A blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is classically rustic in that way that only Tuscany seems to deliver. Aromas of smoke, earth and black berry seem to take the fruit forward nature of Sangiovese and add a hint of sophistication along with a mocha note from the Cabernet Sauvignon. The palate is structured but not austere with a medium body, flavors of black fruit, earth and hints of cocoa powder and more finish than you expect at the $13 price point. Bring on the home made (or not) pasta and pizza.
Crianza is the most approachable of the Rioja range (in comparison with Reserva, or Gran Reserva) younger, and less oak influenced. The twelve months in neutral oak barrels often leaves wine drinkers with a fruit forward, youthful Tempranillo that is hard to compete with in terms of quality to price and drinkability. This 100% Tempranillo from two different estate vineyards is aromatically sophisticated with spicy aromas, black plum and hints of leather. The palate is youthful yet distinguished. Flavors of wild herb, vanilla and a core of dusty black fruit. The wine’s structure and balance are impressive at under $20. A perfect burger wine, if your burger comes with bleu cheese and some sauteed onions.
Hailing from the Luján de Cuyo sub region and nearly one hundred year old vines, comes a wine that can redefine value priced wines, and your take on Malbec in general. While Argentina has soared on cheap Malbec, much of it tens to be one dimensional, with a deference to peppery spice. This bottling from Trivento makes use of those old vines and the high altitude to produce a wine that offers an elegance to back up what can often be an overwhelming wine. Aromas of dried violet, mocha powder and leather and a palate of depth, velvety black fruit and white pepper make for a fantastic wine to compliment steaks of the grill.
2010 Caroso Riserva Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italy $22
For just a hair above our $20 price-point you get a seven year old wine from one of Italy’s unheralded regions, known for straightforward simplicity. While Malbec and Rioja can often come to mind when we are looking for mid-week wines that pack a lot of wine for the price, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo doesn’t often come to mind; and that’s a pity. This wine offers a sense of the region’s ability produce great food wines that compliment anything from humble pasta sauces, to extravagant carnivorous meals.
From old vines in the romantic, if underrated Abruzzo region Montepulciano is a native grape that is dark hued and produces a deep, rich wine. The aromatics from the Caroso Riserva echo that reputation. Black plum, black cherry and smoky notes, along with hints of mocha make for a noteworthy opening. The palate is rich, and nearly luxuriant. Ripe fruit accented with notes of cinnamon, earth and barrel spice.