Smell that? Is it the sweetness of candy corn in a trick or treat bag? The musky smell of leaves waiting to be raked to the curb? Or maybe it’s just the harvest smells that ease us out of summery warmth into the autumn chill that translates into cozy apple crisp, a maple-y acorn squash or perhaps a garlicky simmering beef stew. Oh, how we love October. Offering the reunion with wintry favorites, it is the perfect time to savor those last bits of summer warmth while remembering the best part of cool, crisp weather. Sweaters? We’ve missed you! Hearty meals? It’s so nice to have cool weather where we can enjoy such a broad spectrum of flavor. And, best of all? We can pull out those complex wines that are perfect for this transitional season and buffer the cold as much as we remember summer’s warmth, while we remind ourselves that warm weather is really only a few months away. Hinsdale Cellars provides a security blanket of friendly, flavorful character in a gorgeous Pinot Noir and an incredible New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Goodbye summer salad. Hello heartier harvest fare. We provide “inspired” wines that are in every sense crowd pleasers that will likely have you coming back for more.
Bread & Butter Pinot Noir, California
Such a great wine as we move from lighter to heavier foods, California pinots can be incredible versatile. In this case, aromas of cherry cola, vanilla tapioca, jasmine tea, with hints of rose, anise and eucalyptus—it truly is a comforting bouquet. Here is a wine that offers balance and integration that continues on the palate: black cherry, orange peel, rhubarb, and a ﬂoral tea mingle with hints of caramel, mint, white pepper, and a background of sweet oak. This wine is bright, and elegant the way Pinot Noir should be. What’s perfect about Pinot Noir is that it is light enough to accompany a baked cod and complex enough to pair with a comforting Coq au Vin – really the ultimate autumnal wine.
Lobster Reef Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
Is there really a better Sauvignon Blanc than one from New Zealand? OK, maybe it’s just the incredibly identifiable passion fruity/grapefruity/citrus qualities of these mineralesque beauts, but they are unquestionable interesting and quaffable. And the Lobster Reef does not disappoint. A textbook Kiwi Sauvignon, its aromas of grapefruit, lime, tomatillo and orange blossom leap from the glass. On the palate a lovely creaminess carries zingy flavors of candied citrus peel, lemon, pear and fresh herbs. This wine pairs perfectly with your shellfish, and at this time of year, makes a marvelous companion to a seafood bisque or succulent bouillabaisse.
When thinking of Italian wine, one is far more likely to recall Tuscany’s Chianti and Montepulciano or Piemonte’s Barolo and Barbaresco than those special treasures harvested on Italy’s islands. And while those are tried and true Italian sippers, wine lovers who limit themselves to just those two regions are clearly missing out. Perhaps this may come as a surprise, but over the past decade some of Italy’s most exciting wines have originated on its islands. Sicily actually has more vineyards than any other Italian region, and Sardinian wine, despite having it own unique and tasty niche is the least known to Americans of all Italy’s regions. So this month, the wine club inspires its members with a trip to the Islands—the Italian islands. With a Vittoria red from Sicily, we have a wine with intense berry fragrance that is truly mouthwatering, followed by succulent fruitiness on the palate and a complex mineral quality on the finish. Equally compelling is a world-class white from Sardinia: Vermentino. Both are unique expressions of the new wave of world-class wines emerging from previously obscure European regions and will certainly change your perspective on “island living.” Enjoy these two wines, and look for more unique discoveries in the months to come.
Valle Dell’Acate Frappato, Vittoria, Sicily
One of the most exciting and interesting wines of this year’s offerings, Frappato is wildly delicious and only found in Vittoria. Tom Hyland, a top wine writer and an authority on Italian wines had this to say about it in his book Beyond Barolo and Brunello: “….What makes this estate’s Frappato so special are the aromas, which offer not only lovely maraschino cherry and cranberry perfumes, but also a savory, slightly meaty edge to them. Medium-bodied and aged only in steel tanks, this has beautiful complexity, balance and varietal purity and is a delight!” Indeed, this light ruby tinted wine is fragrant and fresh, making a perfect companion for appetizers of cheese, charcuterie, and paté or even delicate fish entrées like a Merluzzo Mediterranea alla Siciliana (cod Sicilian style).
Piero Mancini Vermentino, Sardinia
Vermentino is a pan-Mediterranean varietal found on French and Italian coasts surrounding the sea. This particular Vermentino starts with alluring aromas of tropical fruit and honeydew melon. Its pale yellow-color with greenish hues introduces this medium to full-bodied wine, full of flavor and a long, juicy finish. Uniquely aromatic, elegant, balanced and with fantastic structure, this truly is a standout wine. Grilled clams, sushi and other seafood dishes match perfectly with what is sure to be an unforgettable and utterly remarkable experience.
Oh, those crickets. These days you hear them each night as the sun begins to set and you try to decide whether the heat and humidity deserves a speedy retreat back into the air conditioning or not. Yes, this is perhaps summer’s most coveted time, when all senses are reminded that these days to lounge on the terrace, deck or patio for supper with an elegant glass of your favorite vino are indeed numbered. This is a time to cherish these special moments, not fritter them away with unworthy, ordinary wines. Thank goodness, Hinsdale Cellars’ Inspired Wine Club has provided August selections perfect for the occasion. Both wines come from unique grape varieties that have yet to become trendy here in the U.S. That said, they are unquestionably true darlings of sommeliers and wine directors around the country because they pair so well with food and because of their sleek, racy character that make them eminently gulp-worthy (even the red). So, put on a little insect repellant, take a refreshing dip in the pool and steel yourself for some time in the August heat. It’s time for a candlelit dinner al fresco.
2012 Green Eyes Grüner Veltliner
No question, Grüner Veltliner has been slow to find an audience in America. Maybe it’s because importers, distributors and retailers don’t think American wine drinkers will buy a wine they can’t pronounce. (Unfortunately, this is not an exaggeration. It’s GREW-ner FELT-leaner, fyi.) But we know you’re a smart wine drinker that will love this charming white for its pronounced citrus, melon and quince aromas and flavors. A dynamite aperitif wine, it’s also a winner with all sorts of foods – vine-ripe beefsteak tomatoes, pasta salad, shellfish, poultry and fresh, farmer’s market cheeses.
2012 Sottimano Brachetto ‘Maté’
This delectable red is made from Brachetto grapes grown in a tiny vineyard in Italy’s premier Piedmont region. Brachetto is hard to find, and when available it is generally a sweet, lightly effervescent red. And these are delicious wines in their own right. But, this Brachetto is something even more unique and thrilling: a dry, yet fruity, mouth-watering delight. When the Sottimanos originally purchased the small vineyard of Maté in Treiso, they were told it was Dolcetto (sweet), but the aromatics gave it away! The aroma is akin to walking in a rose garden with additional scents of wild strawberry, cranberry, citrus oil and pomegranate seeds. Its medium-bodied texture brings forth zesty red fruit, a distinct hibiscus note and a hint of tomato leaf – the perfect wine to enjoy with salty hams like prosciutto, serrano and all manner of cured sausages, yet versatile enough to work as a splendid seafood wine, from mussels to tuna steaks.