Autumn wines at great prices

October is about playoffs and pumpkins, but it also means red wine. I tend to veer toward lighter red wines during this time of year, especially fruity wines such as pinot noir and dolcetto, as they match fall produce so well. But let’s not forget — truffle season is almost upon us, so nebbiolo is most definitely in the mix.

But in these hard economic times, many of us are still searching for great values.
Being that value is relative, instead of setting a low dollar amount, the wines I am recommending are very high quality compared with their price.

Pecchenino dolcetto de Dogliani DOCG, Siri d’Jermu 2006 (Piedmont, Italy): At first glance, this is a pricey dolcetto but after a couple of sips,  you will be convinced it’s worth it. Pecchenino is a family run property in Dogliani, which is claimed by some to be the birthplace of dolcetto. Minerally with blackberry fruit, this wine has precision without being overly intense, and while it has pure dolcetto character it does not taste like an inexpensive wine. Suggested retail: $29

Domaine de Fenouillet Beaumes de Venise AOC, Terres Blanche, 2007 (Rhone Valley, France): Beaumes de Venise is known for its dessert wines but it also produces some really pretty reds. Two brothers run Fenouillet, the fourth generation to make wine from this farm. Medium-bodied with barely ripe blueberries and peppery spice, this is a delightful wine that goes especially well with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food. Suggested retail: $18

McKinlay pinot noir, 2007 (Willamette Valley, Ore.): I’ve always had a fondness for this idiosyncratic Oregon pinot noir. Matt and Holly Kinne founded McKinlay in the early 1990s and it remains a well-kept secret. It is not so much that the wines are reminiscent of Burgundy, as many say, but that they have a distinct floral, earthy and blueberry notes. With tobacco and licorice, bright acidity and a lengthy, elegant finish, this is another feather in the Kinnes’ cap. Suggested retail: $15

Pamela S. Busch is the wine director and proprietor of CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen in San Francisco.

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