Fall Wines: A Warming Taste Trend

Wine styles are as seasonal as clothing. In the summer, I drink light, refreshing wines that remind me of a simple T-shirt and shorts: perfect for sun-baked beaches and country road strolls.

But in the fall, my wine, like my clothes, becomes warmer, more layered and better able to combat those cool winds of October.

In the video above, Leanne and I chat about fall fashions in wine, from the run-way to your dining room table.

The wines featured in this show include:

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay, California

Toasted Head Chardonnay, California

Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon, California

Santa Alicia Carmenere, Chile

Pascual Toso Malbec, Argentina

Napa Cellars Zinfandel, California

Frescobaldi Nipozanno Chianti Rufina, Tuscany, Italy

Bolla Amarone della Valpolicella, Italy

You can also watch our second video on Thanksgiving wines here.


fall wine


So what are “chilly weather wines”? For starters, they’re full-bodied with robust flavours.

That means that they’re usually higher in alcohol than average, in the range of 13 to 15 percent, and they’re packed with ripe fruit flavors.

Paradoxically, the regions that produce these wines are usually warm themselves. That’s because grapes grown in regions such as California, Chile, Argentina, Australia and South Africa, get more sunshine and heat to ripen more fully than those grown in cool regions, such as Germany, Champagne and Canada.

Riper grapes have more sugar and sugar is what produces alcohol during fermentation. Ripeness also yields more robust, fruitier flavours.

These wines also often have toasty oak aromas because they’ve been fermented and/or aged in oak barrels.

The barrels are charred and seasoned before they’re filled with wine, and so they impart these smoky, vanilla and spice notes that remind me of a body-warming fireplace.

In addition to the wines noted above, some of my favourite red wine warmers include Pascual Toso Merlot from Mendoza, Argentina ($13). This full-bodied wine has aromas of vanilla, plums, red and blackberries. Pair with roast lamb.


lamb and wine small


The De Bortoli Petite Sirah from New South Wales, Australia ($12) is a robust, juicy wine that has notes of plum and oak. Drink it with a rare steak. The Deen Vat 4 Petit Verdot from New South Wales, Australia ($18) has aromas of chocolate, oak and plums, which would pair beautifully with roast beef.

The Tarapaca Terroir La Cuesta Cabernet/Syrah from the Maipo Valley, Chile ($14) is a generous wine with aromas of sweet plums and chocolate. It’s a combination of 60 percent cabernet sauvignon and 40 percent syrah. And finally, the Napa Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon from California ($18) is a full-bodied and tannic wine that will benefit from decanting one to two hours. Pair it with hearty stews.

Just as you can wear “winter white” after Labour Day, you can also drink full-bodied white wines during the cold season. These whites share similar characteristics with the red brethen: full-bodied flavours, often with a kiss of oak.

Try the Casa Lapostolle Chardonnay from Casablanca Valley, Chile ($16) is made by the Marnier-Lapostolle family, who also make Grand Marnier, so they know what full-bodied wine means.

This big, buttery chardonnay is as comfy as your favortie jeans – round, smooth and accepting. Pair it with a salmon steak.

I love the humour of the wine named Goats Do Roam ($13), a playful take off of the Cote du Rhone region of France. This full-bodied white from the Western Cape of South Africa is a blend of chenin, crouchen, clairette, viognier and semillon grapes.

The Château Ste. Michelle Chardonnay ($18) from Columbia Valley, Washington is a lovely, voluptuous white with smoky notes and layers of ripe peaches. Pair with pasta in cream sauce.

When you reach for the snuggly sweater or the extra long underwear, pour yourself a glass of heart-warming wine and raise a toast to embracing the season.




More fall wine tips and picks here.


Fall Wines: A Warming Taste Trend

Leanne: Since everyone is whining about the weather, we thought we should highlight wine.

Natalie: Exactly.

Leanne: It’s going to be a wet weekend so we’re talking about a liquid that isn’t as frustrating for people who are wanting to head out and see the foliage.

Natalie: Exactly.

Leanne: Natalie MacLean is a celebrated wine writer and these are your picks for the season?

Natalie: They are. I think of it as changing your fall wardrobe … for wine and what happens with wine as we move inside as the weather gets colder. We also tend to enjoy dishes that are more robust and full-bodied so why not have that in your glass as well. So we’re layering into the liquid suede as we talked about  … lots of oak and butter and wines that are still balance, still beautiful and are food friendly.

Leanne: You’re anxious to share all of the fashion references and why when you said layering did you point over to the Chardonnays?

Natalie: Both of these buttery Chardonnays from California are wonderful with your roast chicken or anything in a butter sauce or a cream sauce. They have the heft as white wines to stand up to those robust flavours. So when I think of layering, layering is actually a term we use for wines when they’re layered and complex. Just like fashion, you have a few different things going on in the glass.



Leanne: And price-point, you said for the most part everything on this side of the counter is under…

Natalie: $15 actually. Yes, $15-$16 they’re all within that range.

Leanne: We wanted to move on to the middle because we have here the Carménère which is referring to the grape, correct?

Natalie: Some people also refer to it as the Merlot of Chile. This one is so supple; it’s the suede and the velvet of the season. I love it because it will take on roast beef or full-body dishes but also we’re going to talk about this in a little while with your holiday turkey. We also have a Cabernet Sauvignon and to me Cabernet is fall. It’s kind of your plaid with detailing.

Leanne: Now we should say the Carménère, we mentioned earlier, is $13.

Natalie: Yes.

Leanne: But you say it taste like it’s about $26 bottle of wine.

Natalie: It does.

Leanne: So that’s a great wine to bring over to someone’s home if you’re going for a dinner.

Natalie: That’s right.

Leanne: This is another Zinfandel. When you describe that wine, what is it that you are referring to?      

Natalie: Zinfandel is also a grape base like Cabernet or Merlot. With Zinfandel, you get a lot of juicy purple and black fleshy plums, very little tannin and it’s a very smooth wine. It is a great for turkey and I’m jumping ahead again. Its kind of like what I think of as fun animal prints for the fall season because it just goes with everything.

Leanne: And a lot of flavour.

Natalie: Yes.

Leanne: This is a Malbec.

Natalie: A Malbec.

Leanne: And that grape has become more and more common. We see a lot more Malbec than we did at one time.

Natalie: Exactly, because it’s the rise of Argentina. Argentina’s flagship red wine is Malbec. They make other wines of course but what they’re known for is Malbec. It’s smooth and it’s deeper and darker than the Zinfandel. It’s going to take on prime rib, brisket, any hardy meat dish. It’s going to muscle right in there.

Leanne: You look feisty today. We should tell everyone that Natalie actually wanted to have a glass of something before the show because she arrives thirty-seconds to air.

Natalie: Yes.

Leanne: Some traffic issue.

Natalie: Traffic.

Leanne: But you’re here.

Natalie: Yes.

Leanne: And it’s good to take a peaceful breath. How much is this Malbec?

Natalie: This one is only $15.95.

Leanne: $15.95.

Natalie: Amazing.

Leanne: So we have about a minute left…

Natalie: Okay.

Leanne: Let’s go over to a classic which is the most expensive wine on our counter and that’s the Amaroné.

Natalie: Amaroné, two Italian wines to finish off with. The Amaroné is probably a quintessential fall wine. It uses the Ripasso method, meaning the grape juice was re-passed or passed over twice. The grapes were dried out to really concentrate the flavour. So if you love pasta in a meat sauce or lasagna, any of those heftier carbohydrate and meaty dishes, Amaroné is your wine.

Leanne: And there are very few people who are ever disappointed if you present them with an Amaroné, am I correct?

Natalie: I don’t think they will complain.

Leanne: Now, if we went through that a little bit too fast and you’ve thinking I want to know where to get any of these wines, you have an app for that. We’re going to send you to Natalie’s website. Not only are the wines listed but also the price-points and all the rest. There is a program on her website whereby you can put in where you live and she’ll let you know what quantity is available …

Natalie: … and the directions right to your closest liquor store.

Leanne: Yes.




Posted with permission of CTV.






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