Kids are back in school, Halloween candy is already showing up on the shelves, weekends are designated for football and it’s time to think about fall wines. There are many wines that pair perfectly for autumn weather and seasonal flavors. Syrah is one style of wine that is perfect to drink as the leaves turn golden and you’re getting ready for the next kickoff.
It’s easy to see that the best fall wines create a great transition between summer wines – light, crisp and refreshing – and those soon to arrive winter wines that are dark, smooth and warming.
Syrah (or Shiraz) brings the spicy smell of freshly fallen leaves. Syrah in a glass brings back memories of freshly raked leaves and cool forest hikes. This red’s spicy, warming aromas go perfectly with cooler weather and fall meals, while the wine’s acidity offers reminders of the light reds and rosés of summer.
French Rhône Valley Syrahs with their earthy flavors and aromas are perfect for this time of year. Look for 100% Syrah from the Northern Rhône Valley or a Southern Rhône (usually labeled Côtes du Rhône) which is a classic blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mouvedre.
The latter is often referred to as GSM (as in Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre). Since it’s a blend of grapes, you should expect a mishmash of red and black fruit flavors. The wines from the Old World countries tend to have a tart herbaceous note that is often described as ‘garrigue’—often described as unsweetened hibiscus and black tea with lavender, sage and a squeeze of lemon. In short, it’s complex. The New World versions tend to be juicier and more pure in their fruit flavors.
Here are a few Old World wines that would be good to welcome your autumn activities:
• Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche Rouge 2013, Rhône Valley, France
Garnet red in color, this wine emits aromas of red cherry-type fruits and spice—think licorice and pepper. In the mouth this wine has a great structure with firm and silky tannins.
• Domaine de Mourchon Côtes du Rhône Villages Seguret Grande Reserve 2011, Rhône Valley, France
This Côtes du Rhône Villages Grand Reserve is a blend of two-thirds Grenache and one-third Syrah that was aged in 60% barrel and 40% tank. This medium- to full-bodied beauty is deep purple in color with a nose suggesting spices, licorice and crushed plum, blackberry and boysenberry fruit. Fresh and clean, the palate is elegant with fruit intensity, spice and briary tannins that lead to a heady, lengthy finish .