Serious whites and earthy reds match the season
and remember in every
drop of gold,
in every topaz glass,
in every purple ladle,
that autumn labored
to fill the vessel with wine.”
NIAGARA SKIN-FERMENTED WHITE PRODUCERS
Chateau Niagara Winery; chateauniagarawinery.com
Leonard Oakes; www.oakeswinery.com
Liten Buffel; litenbuffel.com
Southbrook (Ontario); southbrook.com
NORTHERN ITALIAN SKIN-FERMENTED WHITE PRODUCERS
Franco Terpin; francoterpin.com
Denis Montanar; denismontanar.it
JURA, FRANCE PRODUCERS
Domaine de L’octavin; octavin.fr
Domaine de Saint Pierre; domaine-st-pierre.com
Domaine Overnoy; find it on Facebook
Jean-François Ganevat; more info here
Photo by kc kratt
Autumn is the season that best showcases what makes our little part of America so special. Temperate weather. Colors of fire. Aromas that convince us to travel home, sit in our mother’s kitchen, and eat leftovers. Fall is a swan song; the last charge of the summer mind before winter closes in. I believe the wines I drink in the fall should match my surroundings: orange bonfires, red-rusted bridges, and withering crops from a land that is simple yet persistent. Wines that best match a New York fall are venerable, skin-fermented whites and licentious, bestial reds.
Skin-fermented white wines range from fruit bombs to wines as light as fallen leaves. They often possess enough structure and heft to pair with the foods that warm a brisk fall evening, along with just enough acid to embrace a milder, sunny autumn day. With a structure more common to reds, these whites can come across as serious. But hedonism is at the heart of wine, so don’t let a little tannin prevent you from crushing an orange wine during the year’s final barbecue.
Autumnal reds, for me, tend to be lighter and more lithe, with higher acidity and lower alcohol. Above all, I look for earthy, rustic flavors. I look for bramble and turned leaves, tar and dried roses. I look for characteristics that don’t just distract me from the death of summer, but rather convince me to welcome fall. These wines should provoke thought and contemplation, but also fit into the season’s last kayak trip. (Pro tip: See below for the perfect lazy urban kayak trip.)
Wines such as these are easier to find than you might imagine. In my opinion, most Niagara reds are perfectly suited for fall weather consumption, and several wineries produce skin-fermented whites.
When seeking wines like these in other regions, I gravitate toward bottles from Northern Italy and Eastern France. Northern Italian skin-fermented whites, like those from Trentino Alto-Adige and Fruili Alto-Adige, feel as though they float on the palate like glycerine while delivering mouthwatering acidity and fruit. Poulsard, Trousseau, Pinot Noir, or a blend of these varietals from the Jura in France can present themselves as low-alcohol juicy fruit or as the most interesting, ruminative wines on the market. (Pro tip: While you can find these styles at most decent local shops, it may be necessary to go online to sites like Vintry for the small-production wines.)
Wines shouldn’t just pair with food. The way a wine tastes hinges on the entire experience: the weather, the company, the mood, and the cup. Wine is an agricultural product, and sometimes it has recommended seasons. Certain wines seemingly go better with certain environments. For me, wines in the fall should be carnal, the type of wines consumed during Samhain, the Celtic harvest festival. These are wines built for consumption and based on sybaritic needs, wines that speak to the uncouth part of humanity that gets its back up in definace of approaching winter chill.