By Eric Harris, Wine Steward Barcelona Wine Bar and Restaurant
As September draws to a close, and the cold air creeps into New England, my wine cravings are changing. It’s time to say “goodbye for now” to the crisp, effervescent Txakoli wines of the Basque country, the light peachy roses of Provence, and the fresh mineral Albarinos of Rias Baixas. As Barcelona’s menu starts to get a little heartier, it is time to change our wine selections to complement these dishes. With Chefs Steve Brand and Emilio Garcia of Barcelona Wine Bar and Restaurant in Brookline, MA changing gears for the fall — with Steve’s fried halibut cheeks over corn chowder and Emilio’s duck confit with local black beans, duck jus, and salsa verde, to name two — I find myself craving some of my favorite fall wines.
My first fall love is the white wines of Priorat. When I’m not quite ready to give up my white wines, these really fit the bill. Wines like Cabaler from Cesca Vicent really bridge the gap between red and white. This wine shows lovely notes of stone fruit, sweet spice, smoke, and butterscotch, while remaining fresh and approachable. The fact that Cesca Vicent practices biodynamic farming is just an added plus.
Spain’s trademark wines from Rioja are the next thing that comes creeping into my mind. These wines, with their complexity and elegance, are an easy choice for the crisp fall weather. One of my “go to” wines of late has been the 2005 Vina Arana Reserva. This wine has beautiful bright red fruits up front, with tart cherry shining through. It finishes with lingering notes of leather, tobacco, smoke, and sweet spices. Each sip will surely having you longing for the next.
The last of my fall favorites comes from a little further north, in the Loire Valley in France. The Cabernet Francs of Chinon have always captured my attention for their prominent slate and graphite flavors. The Les Grezeaux from Bernard Beaudry is a beautiful example. It shows black currant and raspberry up front, finishing with really soft tannins and the trademark graphite and slate I look forward to in these wines.
Even though fall is starting to creep in, thoughts of summer and summer wines haven’t completely faded. If you happen to find yourself with a beautiful piece of weather and some spare time, I recommend you take advantage of some of summer’s finest offerings. I know I will jump at any opportunity I can to enjoy my two favorite summer selections before they are gone. They are both limited production wines and both hard to find outside of Barcelona.
The first, is the Ameztoi Rubentis, a rose Txakoli wine with wonderful minerality, bright notes of tart strawberry and cranberry, and a very clean finish. The second, is the Robert Sinsky Vin Gris, a biodynamic rose made from Pinot Noir, which has a gorgeous peach tint and delicate flavors of ripe peach and fresh melon.
No matter what climate you’re surrounded by or what meal you’re eating, there is a wine for every moment. Don’t be afraid of breaking convention and just drinking what you’re in the mood for. If you’re ever in doubt, you can always ask your friendly neighborhood sommelier.