The Tasting: Crisp Autumn Wines

As the weather turns, so do we, from the light flavors of Rose and Sauv Blanc in search of more complex and unique tastes. Light enough to counter Indian summer, but deep enough to spark your senses.

Call it an intellectual pursuit for the start of school.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy: Crisp, refreshing, white wine with floral, citrus notes. Try one of many exports including our favorite from a recent trip, from Panizzi. ($11-17)

Assyrtiko, Santorini, Greece:  Medium-light body and moderately high acid with pineapple citrus notes insure this wine will compliment everything from end of summer BBQ through to the apple tarts of fall.  Like this one here. ($17-40)

Chardonnay from Tuscany, Italy:  Widely available locally, Tuscan Chardonnay is less available in the US, but Antinori is leading the way with both an entry level and higher end version available. Highly rated, with round, fresh style that’s a refreshing plus in the Chardonnay aisle. ($20-40)

Zweigelt from Austria: High acidity offset with sweet cherry, current and black pepper. We like this one from Berger. ($14-30)

Cabernet Franc from the Loire, France: Cab Franc is lighter than its cousin Cabernet, often with a slightly green, leafy note, or even a distinct note of pencil shavings to offset blackcurrant and cherries. Also known for its light color and high acidity. Start with this reliable mid-range wine. ($13-55)

Sangiovese from Tuscany, Italy: A Chianti Classico (or a Brunello di Montalcino if you are trying to impress). The dark cherry, fresh acidity and elegance makes this the perfect wine for hot afternoons and cool evenings. This Felsina is highly rated and delicious. ($11-100)

Bonus points: Add a Sangiovese from the Santa Clara Valley of Northern California. The Martin Ranch Terese Vineyard Sangiovese ($30) is a particular favorite of locals.

Pairings:  In any time of transition, meal planning feels onerous. What we really want to do is get our friends together and celebrate another passing of the season and to enjoy time together. Make it simple: go for a beautiful selection of nuts, dried fruits, salumi, good bread and cheese. If you have time, pop together homemade additions to make it that much better, like grape tomatoes on a toothpick with a small mozzarella ball and basil leaf, drizzled with olive oil. If you’re in the company of carnivores, try a T-bone steak cooked simply with salt and pepper on the grill and served with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Finish with Vin Santo – and don’t forget the biscotti to soak it all up.


Lydia Strohl