While it may seem like Atlanta’s summer of 2016 will never end and you’ll be stuck drinking Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for eternity, a respite of cooler weather and falling leaves is coming. That means oenophiles everywhere can rejoice as it is time to break out some heartier red wines. So, get ready to throw on a sweater, light the fire, and let a few of this city’s pros direct you to a variety of wines you should enjoy this fall and winter.
Jordan Smelt of Cakes & Ale, Bread & Butterfly
2013 Martin Nigl, Rosé Sekt Brut. Niederösterreich, Austria ($25)
Just because we’ve started donning sweaters and jackets doesn’t mean you have to completely give up drinking rosé; particularly, sparkling rosé. This bottle of suds from Martin Nigl is a blend of mostly Zweigelt with a little Pinot Noir and drinks with all the purity of fruit and textural finesse of a rosé from Champagne, without the Champagne price tag. Versatile enough to handle everything from Thanksgiving dinner to holiday parties and everything in between, this is your go-to fall bottle.
2014 Domaine Guillot-Broux, Mâcon-Cruzille, Les Genievrières, Burgundy, France. ($29)
Most Chardonnay from the Mâconnais is like the Toyota Camry of white Burgundy. Reliable and a good value? Absolutely. Dynamic and exhilarating? Eh, not so much. That said, in a region with a reputation for producing a lot of vapid, unremarkable white, serious gems can be found. Take this superb white from Guillot-Broux: bright and lively with just the right amount of oak to soften it up, this is a Chardonnay that punches above its weight.
2014 COS, Frappato. Vittoria, Sicily, Italy ($28)
If you weren’t already aware that Sicily is the most exciting wine region in Italy these days, well, now you know. If you were, you’ve probably heard of Arianna Occhipinti, who makes some of the most exciting and sought-after wines on the whole island. It’s less likely that you’ve heard of Giusto Occhipinti (the O is COS), Arianna’s uncle, who gave her her start. A fresh, vibrant, and slightly fizzy red with downright twangy acidity, drink it with a light chill and an open mind.
Andres LoaIza of Aria
2015 J. Mourat "Collection" White, Val de Loire, France ($16)
I like my whites in the fall with a little texture, but still a refreshing quality about them — a great way to transition from Sancerre and other very dry whites from the summer. This blend of Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc from the southern part of the appellation (Loire Valley) just hits the spot with notes of melon and topical fruit. Organically farmed.
2014 Domaine Bernard Baudry, Chinon, France ($21)
A thoughtful and precise Cabernet Franc, perfect for those "light sweater" cool evenings of fall in the South. If you don’t believe in how great Cabernet Franc can be, this wine will change your mind. Lively with ample red fruit, earth, and herbal notes. Great with fowl or lighter pork dishes. This wine is organically farmed.
2014 G.D. Vajra, Langhe Nebbiolo, Piemonte, Italy ($20)
Nebbiolo is one of my all-time fall favorites — grippy and snappy with bright fruit. Vajra makes wonderfully elegant wines of great character. Red and purple flowers, red fruit, and a little licorice. Think pasta, mushrooms, roasted duck. This wine is also organically farmed.
Eric Brown of Le Caveau Fine Wines
2015 Domaine Enclos de la Croix ‘Little by Little’ Pays d'Hérault ($16)
This is a fun, organic red from Lansargues in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. It is mostly Merlot with a little Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc that goes through semi-carbonic maceration in cement with no added sulfur to soften up the structure. It's full-bodied but supple with great freshness and purity of dried raspberry, dark cherry, and plum fruit. It is soft enough pair with a variety of foods, and a great Tuesday night red for the season.
2015 Christian Ducroux 'Exspectatia' (Regnié) ($25)
Autumn always makes me crave Beaujolais, and I love Christian Ducroux's fantastic 2015 Exspectatia made from 60 year old vines of Gamay from the cru of Regnié. Christian's five-hectare estate has been biodynamic since 1985, and has operated as a nearly self-sufficient farm. He got tired of the AOC rules of Regnié and decided to declassify his cru wine to Vin de France, choosing the name "Exspectatia," the third form of time. It is deep and dark with some blood orange, earth, and anise. It is super complex and supremely balanced in the warm, but excellent, 2015 vintage.
2014 Partida Creus ‘SM’ Sumoll Catalunya ($35)
Massimo Marchiori and Antonella Gerona are an Italian couple from the Piedmont who moved to Barcelona to work as architects, but in 2000 they grew tired of the big city and bought some land in the village of Massís de Bonastre (Baix Penedès). In the vineyards they farm biodynamically, all wines are fermented with natural yeasts, and no SO2 is added. This red is made from Sumoll which gets its name from the Catalan slang term "sumollar," meaning "maturing" or "withering." Sumoll was once a widely planted variety throughout Catalonia, but now there are less than 100 hectares. Fans of Frappato or Nebbiolo from Alto Piemonte will find lots to love in this red wine. Bright cherry, cranberry, Herbs de Provence, leather, rose petals, and iodine emerge on this wonderfully fresh red that makes perfect fall drinking.
• All Wine Coverage [EATL]