7 years ago

The best red wines for fall


Ready to make the seasonal switch from white to red? Jason Newell, manager of Wines & Spirits at our Chanhassen store, gives us his top red wine recommendations for fall.

Living in Minnesota, I have learned to embrace Mother Nature’s seasonal changes. In fact, it is a necessity of sanity to have something to look forward to with each of the changes that range from gentle and beautiful to dangerously harsh. A few trees are beginning to show their color and the temperatures are dropping just enough to give us a pleasant coolness and relief from the outgoing summer’s heat. My daydreams of dinner menus switch from grilling on the deck to roasting luscious meats in the oven. Most importantly, it is time to switch from the light crisp white wines of summer to fall’s bold, rich, luxurious big reds.

Each year I am presented with an endless variety of red wines, some of them new to Minnesota and many from wineries that I have sampled from previous vintages. Most of them are well made and would be fine to have in our store. However I am searching for a treasure of a wine that is not just OK, but AWESOME. One of these reds has to be the perfect partner for my pork roast and another must stand up to and complement my beef roast.

There are hundreds to choose from and many that are worthy, but these three wines really stood out from the rest. Now it’s time to grab some root vegetables, pick up a roast and fire up the oven.

Textbook Merlot

Before Pinot Noir became the hottest must-have grape varietal, California Merlot reigned supreme on the popularity list. At the time, California Merlots were juicy and rich; high quality was easy to find at every
price level. Merlots are still very plentiful; however, finding a worthy treasure has become extremely rare. The Textbook Merlot is a medium-priced wine made with grapes from the exclusive Rutherford district of Napa Valley. It reminds me of the luxurious and extremely expensive Merlot of my past and is one of my favorite wines in our store. This is what California Merlot is all about.

Piattelli Reserve Cafayate Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Argentina’s wine industry continues to develop – and the wines they are producing just keep getting better and better. In the northern part of the country, far from the crowded mega wine production area of Mendoza, is the region of Salta. This high-altitude hidden gem has multiple soil types that are perfect for producing grapes with extreme flavors. Jon Malinski, a local Minnesota native, has partnered with Valeria Antolin and Alejandro Nesman, two of the best winemakers in Argentina, to create Piattelli’s wines. This Cabernet Sauvignon from the Cafayate Valley is my favorite of their achievements yet. Argentina’s obsession with beef makes it no surprise that this is the perfect match for my beef roast.

Le Paradou Grenache

If you want to discover how great red wines can be, seek out wines made with the Grenache grape. France, Spain, Australia and California all embrace this fantastic varietal. Grenache can be a challenge to locate in the wine store because of its multiple different spellings, depending on the country where it is produced. The wide spectrum of flavors the winemaker can achieve with Grenache ranges from rich and jammy to world-class elegance that is meant to be aged in collectors’ cellars for decades. Grenache has an affinity for roasted or grilled meats. It matches well with the pork shoulders and caramelized vegetables that will warm my kitchen and family’s bellies throughout the fall and winter. Le Paradou comes from the Rhone Valley in France and is an affordable red that over delivers on what Grenache can bring to the table.

Look for these wines at our Wines & Spirits locations. Selections may vary by store, so call ahead to see if we have the wine you’re looking for!