I’ve said it once and I will say it again, I love this time of year! Fall is my favorite season and with the past summer bringing record highs day in and day out, I am especially looking forward to the transition to cooler temps and changeover of more red wines into my rotation. Whether you are into the lighter, fruitier red wines or bigger bolder reds, I have a wine perfect for every palate.
I’ve recently been drinking wines from three different wine regions in California, each bringing their own uniqueness to the stylistic variances between them. Let’s start with cool region Santa Lucia Highlands and warm up from there.
Morgan Winery in Santa Lucia Highlands is known for their organic and sustainable farming with minimalist winemaking techniques. Head winemaker, Dan Morgan Lee’s goal is to produce wines that are “true”…true to the variety and vineyard, showcasing true balance and complexity all while producing a wine that can be enjoyed upon release.
The Morgan portfolio includes a variety of wines from their own Double L Estate Vineyard as well as fruit from admired growers throughout Monterey County. These long-term partnerships with growers have consistently produced high quality grapes year after year, leading to award winning wines. Which brings me to the 2018 ‘Double L Vineyard’ Syrah.
This single vineyard Syrah evolves beautifully once it has been opened. Initially I was getting black cherry, blueberry, dried herbs and cured meat on the nose…20 minutes later boysenberry, tobacco and clove decided to join in. Light pepper + violet aromas are also present. It has a lovely purple hue to it with bright acidity and a silky finish. The perfect red wine to pair with a crisp evening breeze on the patio.
Sutro Winery in Alexander Valley is a vibe all on its own. Founded, owned and operated by Alice Warnecke Sutro. She grew up in this area and now raises her kids at Warnecke Ranch and Vineyard. Not only is she a kickass female winemaker but she is also a talented artist, promising not to leave that part of your life in the past. Sutro produces 1,200 cases of Bordeaux varietal wines annually, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. A combination of minimal intervention winemaking and controlled use of new oak, allows the volcanic terroir characteristics to confidently show off in the glass.
A recent favorite was the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark fruits mingle with blueberry, herbal notes and cocoa. On the palate it is balanced + elegant tannins with a lingering finish. Only 242 cases produced. 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, 1% Merlot, 1% Petite Verdot and 1% Malbec. Another stunning red wine to add to your fall collection.
Bennett Lane Winery located in Calistoga benefits from both the hot climate and premium fruit that is known for this area. The gentle handling of the fruit and minimal intervention winemaking brings out the complex, rich flavors while balancing out the grace of each wine. I first discovered these wines last year when I had the opportunity to do a virtual tasting with part of the winemaking team. I was hooked.
The 2018 Lynch Family Cabernet Sauvignon was love at first sip. Aromas of baking spice, black cherry, anise, cocoa, sweet tobacco and eucalyptus captivate the senses. The dark fruit follows through on the palate with notes of black currant, spice and wet stone. Complex yet gentle on the tongue with a tenacious finish. If you are looking for a red wine to cuddle up with next to the fire, this is it.
Each of these wineries also produce some impressive white wines that should not be overlooked. Although red wines become my preferred wine for the season, I still make sure to throw in a few whites here and there. Check out the wine selections they have available on their websites. Some incredible wines to help get you through the cooler months. Cheers!