Mary Horn is the host and emcee of Somm Slam, Saturday, Sept. 12, at Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic. She is an advanced sommelier (Level III) through the Court of Master Sommeliers and the vice president of education and fine wine sales for Heidelberg Distributing.
I always look forward to fall and the onset of cooler weather. I love it when the humidity of summer goes away and I can pull out a scarf or put on a turtleneck. It’s also a time when summer seasonal veggie dishes make way for more toothsome dishes that have been roasted or braised. Fall wines are akin to comfort food for me. They transport me to a happy place filled with warmth, well-being and pleasure. These are the wines I am most enthusiastic to enjoy during the upcoming fall season:
Caisson Estate Pinot Noir, Carneros: This lovely wine, handcrafted from vineyard to bottle, after being sustainably farmed in a block-by-block approach, is a perennial fall favorite. This cool-climate estate Pinot Noir is complex and balanced and shows off its delicious nuances of fresh cherry, tart strawberry and dusty raspberry fruit flavors with hints of allspice and everything nice. It is a comfort to enjoy this wine while preparing dinner or with a simple roasted chicken.
Champagne J. Lassalle Brut Cuvee Preference 1er Cru: With the dawn of fall, I am ready for a fuller-bodied style of Champagne. This grower’s Champagne has a distinctive richness yet all of the finesse of the elegant house style which is exemplified by the motto: "une femme, une spirit, une style" (one woman, one spirit, one style). It is lovingly made every step of the way by three generations of Lassalle women. This wine awakens the senses and eternally enchants with its spicy ginger, citrus and toasted bread flavors and of course, its seemingly magical bubbles.
Michele Chiarlo La Court Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza DOCG: This wine is precisely one of the reasons I enjoy fall so much. It has spice, blackberry, black cherry and dark chocolate flavors knotted together in its velvety texture. You can taste the fastidious attention to detail that the Chiarlo family possesses to produce this extraordinary wine from their old vines. The Chiarlo family set the standards for the area before the wine laws were even created and they continue to be the standard bearers. This wine answers the call for an accompaniment of red meat or tomato-based dishes.
Domaine de Fonsainte Gris de Gris Corbieres: A bone-dry rosé, this wine is another one of my favorites each and every fall. I like a year-round rosé and this wine fits the bill with just about everything I can imagine. The raspberry, cherry and freshly picked tart strawberry flavors refresh the palate yet will hold up to some stronger flavors like olives and herbs from the Mediterranean. If I can decide what to drink on the perfect fall day, then this is the wine I return to time and time again. This wine is so versatile that it can pair with everything from a pepperoni pizza all the way to the wacky Thanksgiving meal we all enjoy each fall.
As the temperatures drop, soon hopefully, and the leaves begin to change colors, keep these wines in mind as perfect to pair with autumn dinners and celebrations.