BY ERIN WHITE, Wine Director at Restaurant August
Summer is over! Time to put down the chilled lean racy whites and Roses, however delicious, that we all drink during the hot months, and think fall.
I love the seasons and the changes that come from the garden. Time for butternut squash, quince, pears and apples. Time to make soup again. My childhood was filled with leaf raking and visits to the cider mills in Michigan, so fall for me is the smell of the forest floor and apple cider.
The wine region I think of for fall is usually the Loire Valley. I love this region all year if I am to be honest, but come fall I put aside the Sauvignon Blancs from Sancerre and drink Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc, two of my favorites.
Young Chenin Blanc has aromas of quince, rose and acacia blossoms. Aged it takes on a more candied fruit and honey aromas. Spice, pear, apple flavors combine with wet stone and a touch of honey. Not too dry, not sweet either. Comes in varied levels of sweetness from Sec to demi-sec to Moelleux (sweet). Delicious with pork chops or thanksgivings feast, Chenin has the minerality to even take on cranberry sauce. If nothing else try with soft to semi-firm cow's milk cheeses such as gruyere or brie. Also would be delicious with an herb crusted goat cheese.
Producers to look for : Domaine Huet or Domaine Aubuisieres.
Speaking of cranberry, we come to Cabernet Franc. The parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, both grapes found in Bordeaux, but Cabernet Franc ripens earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon so it is perfect for the cooler temperatures of the Loire Valley. Here Cabernet Franc takes center stage. Young Cabernet Franc is a fruitier wine with light tannins, aromas of cherry, strawberry and violets. Mature Cabernet franc has aromas of leather, forest floor and ripe cranberry and spiced raspberry, bigger, bolder and delicious with a leg of lamb and white beans or pork roasted with rosemary. Cabernet Franc from this region in France is very different from Cabernet Franc from Napa Valley, Bordeaux, or South Africa. While it has power there is always a minerality and leanness that is distinctive to this region. Try it with aged Gouda or a sweet gorgonzola.
Producers to look for : Domaine Yanick Amirault or Charles Jouguet.
Erin White can be reached at email@example.com.