September marks the start of a new school year and the return to a more regular routine for many. It also marks the unofficial end to summer as the month ushers in cooler temperatures, shorter days and a changing landscape as the lush green foliage is suddenly punctuated by pops of yellow, red and orange reminding us that fall is just around the corner. This year, the first official day of fall is September 23rd and as we transition from hot-weather fare to heartier dishes highlighting the flavours of the season, our wine selections tend to change as well. As we reach for that extra layer of clothing we inevitably start choosing wines to complement the cooler weather.
If there is one word that really captures the essence of fall it has to be “comfort”. It’s a time for cozy sweaters, warm seasonal drinks, curling up on the couch with a good book, and evenings spent indoors watching the best fall TV shows or binging on our favourite Netflix series. So it’s not surprising that we search for that element of comfort even in our wines. And while we may not be ready for the powerhouse reds that help us get through the cold winter months we are definitely ready for something with a bit more gusto then the crisp, refreshing whites and rosés we enjoyed all summer.
While ultimately it comes down to personal preference, there are certain wines that just seem to be natural pairings for this transitional season. Fuller-bodied whites with some richness and depth like Chardonnay, Viognier or Semillon are ideal fall companions and light to medium-bodied reds like Gamay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Franc are the perfect compromise to the high octane reds that are best reserved for the bitter cold winter months. As a general guideline look for reds with a good acid to tannin balance, showcasing bright fruit aromas, a touch of savoury spice and a little earthiness.
They will be wonderful sippers on those crisp autumn evenings but they will also complement the earthy flavours of fall harvest foods.
To get you started below are some great options from the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake that are sure to be perfect autumn companions:
Château des Charmes, 2015 Chardonnay, St. David’s Bench Vineyard, $24.95 – This wine is barrel fermented and aged “sur lie” for up to 12 months in French oak barrels. The resulting wine is full-bodied, combining flavours of tropical fruit and melon in a concentrated, buttery style. There are also nuances of smokiness and soft, warm spice to make things interesting.
Konzelmann Estate Winery, 2017 Lakefront Series Pinot Noir, $14.95 – This light-to-medium bodied Pinot Noir is a perfect varietal to showcase the expression of the terroir. It displays aromas of malted chocolate and cherry licorice and lively flavours of black cherry and subtle pepper with soft delicate tannins on the finish.
Lakeview Wine Co., 2017 Lakeview Cellars Viognier, $19.95 – This Niagara Viognier is aromatic and easy-drinking, displaying notes of fresh peach, orange blossom and exotic fruit. The finish leaves you with soft floral tones and touch of sweet tangerine.
Marynissen Estates Winery, 2016 Cabernet Merlot, $17.95 – A bright and fruity aroma of blackberries and baking spices supported by smooth tannins and a flavourful finish. Try this with roast beef or a fall barbecue.
Niagara College Teaching Winery, 2017 Balance Merlot, $19.15 – Bold purple hue in the glass, offering strawberry, black cherry, allspice, tomato leaf, chocolate and dried herbs on the nose. Full and rich on the palate, ripe berry and toasted oak flavours, medium-soft tannins and a long finish. Try with BBQ pork dishes or good quality Gouda or Pecorino Toscana cheeses.
Riverview Cellars, 2017 Gamay Noir, $20.15 – This Gamay exhibits cranberry, cherry and jammy raspberry. Light hints of pepper spice for a well-balanced palate. Barrel aged in new French oak for 12 months. A dry medium bodied red perfect with holiday turkey or duck.
Visit our website at wineriesofniagaraonthelake.com