I’m feeling lazy this week. Instead of serving up my latest and greatest wine picks, I’ve asked friends in the industry to recommend their favorite wines for this time of year.
As those of us who live in the Bay Area know, our autumn is unique. It might be warm for a while, but the days are getting shorter, the leaves are changing color, and it is just a matter of weeks before it cools down and starts raining. The wine choices below accommodate our bizarre weather patterns.
The first person I pinged was Barbara Haimes, an instructor of culinary arts and hospitality studies for City College of San Francisco, as well as the longtime wine buyer for Café Rouge in Berkeley and truly one of the most gifted people I know. She picked the 2010 Badenhorst Chenin Blanc Secateurs ($15) from Swartland, South Africa, saying it’s “perfect as we move from tomatoes to winter squash and richer, fattier foods.” OK, I’ll buy that.
Chiming in next, Shelley Lindgren of A16 and SPQR fame has a sparkling wine in mind, the 2011 Dama del Rovere Lessini Durello Brut ($15) from Veneto in Italy. To be clear, this is not prosecco. Durello is an ancient grape that’s making a revival in Soave, which is closer to Verona than Venice. All right, Shelley, what gives? “It’s a sparkling I crave during the fall because of its distinctive Red Delicious apple flavor — perfect for cooler, darker evenings.” I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s on my bucket list.
Collin Casey, the wine overlord at Namu Gaji and one of the most talented younger wine peeps in San Francisco, is big on the 2011 Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rosé ($10), a grenache-carignan-syrah blend from France’s Languedoc.
Made by the legendary producer Mas de Daumas Gassac, Collin says it “is a perfect park wine for our Indian summers in San Francisco.”
Beaujolais is always a hit come October, but these days few of the high-quality iterations can be found for less than $15. There is an alternative with the 2011 Domaine Robert Sérol Gamay, Vielles Vignes ($15) from the Côte Roannaise in the Loire Valley of France. Selected by Arlequin manager Tess Bryant, she likes the wine for its brightness and “great acidity.” Considering it comes from vines more than 40 years old, it is quite a steal.
Remember this one as Thanksgiving approaches.
Finally, Chris Deegan, wine director at Nopa and one of The City’s more cerebral wine buyers, says his go-to wine “on the cooler, foggy San Francisco nights” is Bedrock Wine Co.’s Shebang IV ($14), made from petite sirah, syrah and alicante bouschet. “I want that forest-floor spice quality,” Chris says. “I love hiking in the fall, and the right kind of wine takes me to the woods with the scent of wet leaves, damp earth and the changing leaves all around.”
See what I mean?
So there you have it. No matter what your preference may be — sparkling, white, rosé or red — there are terrific bargains to help you celebrate the harvest and transition to the holiday season.
These wines can be found through Arlequin Wine Merchant, Dig, K&L Wine Merchants, North Berkeley Imports, Paul Marcus Wines and Whole Foods Noe Valley.
Pamela S. Busch was the founding partner of Hayes and Vine and CAV Wine Bars, and is a wine educator and writer.