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THE WINES OF AUTUMN

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BY THE GLASS The Wines of Autumn
Autumn brings the change of season, of temperature and the colors of nature. What a great time to shake up your wine routine with some wines that are not only new to your palate but feel and taste like the fall!
Autumn feels little cooler and crisper but still has a warm side in the heart of the day. In food we move more toward earthy and spicy flavors. These are the criteria I suggested when I challenged some of our finest local wine-minds to recommend wines for this change of seasons.
The 2014 Scaia Bianco, $12.99, is from the cool Veneto region in Northern Italy and blends Gargenega and Chardonnay grapes to make a decidedly crispy, crunchy, green apple-meets-limestone quaff that is the Call-for-Fall from Proprietor / Wine Guy Ron Stanger of Village Market in Incline Village.
Rosé can still be relevant on a chilly Tahoe day but it had better not be wearing a tutu and performing a plié. Tina Zander, of Zander’s Mountain Spirits in Truckee, recommends the 2013 Bonny Doon “Vin Gris de Cigare ”, $20, which has a stiffer backbone and broader shoulders than most Rosés. The Cigare in the name refers to the French term for Flying Saucers which are apparently ubiquitous the village of Chateauneuf du Pape, as are the varietals in this Grenache-based wine. The grapes here come from the central coast of California, and I heartily agree that this wine with its dry smoky plum and spice-box flavors makes for a great fall-quaff.
In the right hands the Mencia grape makes a peppery, mineral rich, dark raspberry elixir that can be slightly chilled and refreshing on a warm day, or served at room temperature to warm hearts and souls on a cool fall evening. Kali Kopley, of Uncorked in Squaw Valley, Tahoe City and Truckee, did not hesitate when recommending the 2013 J Palacios “Petalos” version , $26, from the Bierzo region in Spain.
SOMMELIER’S SELECTION High quality Sauternes are considered the world’s finest sweet wines. With complexity from southern Bordeaux’ famous “Noble Rot” affecting Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, these wines are tasty and luscious in their youth. But like you and I, the best become far more interesting and sexy after several years of living life. Spicy marmalade, earthy honey and brown-edged caramel come to life in these beauties that can continue to improve for decades. The musky ’81 Chateau Rieussac pictured here was not only an autumn-like golden brown in color, it was earth-shakingly good. So if you’ve got some mature Sauternes stashed in your cellar, have a friend who does, or your local shop can get you some – now’s the time!

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