Autumn certainly took its time to arrive in New York this year. With the season in fill swing, here are my Top 10 picks for wines to enjoy in the fall.
1. Gary Farrell 2015 Russian River Chardonnay
While the weather has been full of autumn tricks, my top pick is a compete treat! Think buttered toast with a drizzle of caramel. This is the perfect way to welcome fall. Rich and full-bodied.
At $30 to $35 depending on where you find it, it is more than I normally spend on a Chardonnay, but it is so well worth it. Thoroughly enjoyable and even better the second day.
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2. Leviathan 2013 Red Blend
Once the cold has set in, maybe even to welcome the first snow, which we here in New York do usually get before winter’s arrival, Leviathan is the wine to open. Leviathan is a California blend of: 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32%Syrah, 24% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc.
At between $45 and $50, depending on retailers, it tastes every dollar’s worth. Rich red and black fruit, combine with earth, leather and tobacco to create a seamless and enchanting delight. Absolutely wonderful.
3. Gnarly Head Authentic Black 2014
Merlot deserves more than a ‘Sideways’ glance
Deep, dark, purple deliciousness. Authentic Black starts with notes of bittersweet chocolate and cherry up front, yet remains dry, with excellent minerality and a long, dry, satisfying finish. This California Petite Sirah-based blend also has Merlot and Zin. An excellent wine to have with a bold steak dinner, on its own, or with Black Forest Cake.
I admit, I was reluctant to try this wine. I’d tried some Gnarly Head wines years ago, and while family and friends liked them, I wasn’t impressed. I found the reds a bit rough with hard tannins. But WOW! This wine is spectacular!
Even more surprising is the price. I thought the taste of the wine coupled with the sophisticated black and silver label was going to net a big price tag. I was wrong. I did a double take, and rechecked to be certain, but it’s retailing at just around $10 a bottle. A complete steal.
4. Gnarly Head 1924 Double Black 2015
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This is also a well-crafted blend from Gnarly Head of California, but it is considerably drier than Authentic Black. I enjoyed it, but believe Authentic will be more crowd-pleasing. While 1924, with its slightly higher alcohol content, Authentic is 14.5%, Double Black is 15%, and will have great appeal to those who crave a distinctively drier wine.
This blend of Zinfandel, Merlot and Syrah will pair well with any autumn barbeque. Anything “Blackened” will pair nicely with this wine. At under $10 it’s another great buy.
5. Tamarack Cellars Merlot 2014
This Washington State Merlot will sneak up on you! I opened the bottle thinking I’d have a glass, and poof — the bottle was empty. Full of dark berry and bittersweet chocolate notes, I thought some chocolate would taste lovely with it.
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So I opened some chocolate, I thought I would have one piece and, unfortunately, that worked out about as well as the wine! A super food-friendly Merlot that retails for about $28, it’s a nice bottle to bring to dinner. And while I drank it this summer, it had me thinking about how wonderfully it would go with Thanksgiving dinner.
6. Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel 2013 and 2014 Sonoma County
This is easily one of the most pleasing California Zinfandels I’ve had the pleasure of drinking. Fresh cherry, vanilla and toast blend seamlessly in this lovely wine. Smooth, dry and clean finish. Medium bodied.
This Zinfandel pairs easily with not only classic red wine foods like meats, but also with lighter fare as it is not a heavy unctuous red. An excellent buy at just around the $15 mark. Both the 2013 and 2014 vintages are wonderful.
7. Plungerhead Petite Sirah 2015
A super nice balance between dark and rich, and fresh and fruity. This is a wonderfully unique California wine to enjoy if the days are still warm, but the nights have gotten cold. A nice transitional wine and really food friendly.
With a suggested retail price of $14 a bottle it’s a nice wine to keep on hand when you’re in the mood for something different.
8. Quivira Zinfandel 2014
A medium bodied, dark wine full of dark beery flavors, good minerality, and bittersweet chocolate. A delicious, easy-drinking Zinfandel to welcome autumn. This California wine retails at about $25 a bottle.
9. Peachy Canyon 2014 Zinfandel
Medium bodied, spicy with bright red fruit, a smooth texture and a long finish, this is a lively red wine from California that is sure to complement fall dinners, or nights by a fireplace or firepit. It retails for about $20 a bottle.
10. Mezzacorona NOS Teroldego Rotaliano Riserva 2009
This lovely Italian red wine retails at about $17 a bottle, and is a great autumn sipper. Great legs, medium body, nose is earthy, woody, a bit of tobacco and smoke.
On the palate it blends with notes of bright red fruit, which lighten up the experience in a good way. The finish is clean and dry. Pairs well with hard cheese and dark chocolate, but drinks nicely on its own as well.
Linda Delmonico Prussen is a Long Island-based award-winning journalist passionate about all things wine.
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Linda Delmonico Prussen