The days are getting shorter, red and orange leaves on trees are dotting the horizon and pumpkin spice has made its annual debut. There’s no denying it anymore: autumn is here. Fall is also the perfect time to focus less on rosé and stay warm with a nice glass of red wine. The days might be getting shorter but we’ve compiled a long list of red wines that will pair perfectly with any fall day.
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Paltrinieri 2016 Radice (Lambrusco di Sorbara);$20, 93 points. This vibrant, slightly sparkling wine is one of the best Lambrucos out there. Made entirely from the Sorbara variety, it opens with enticing citrus, woodland berry and wildflower scents. Its crisp, delicious palate doles out strawberry and pink grapefruit notes alongside baking spice accents and racy acidity. The lees that have settled at the bottom of the bottle gives the last glass even more flavor.
Domaine Dominique Piron 2015 La Chanaise (Morgon); $20, 92 points. A blend from different parts of the Fleurie appellation, this wine is elegant and floral. Crisp red fruits are sustained by acidity and by a juicy character. As often with this appellation, it is a wine to age and will be better from 2018.
Sheldrake Point 2015 Reserve Estate Bottled Gamay Noir (Finger Lakes); $32 90 points. How delightful that Gamay grows in the Finger Lakes and further more that Sheldrake Point has managed to coax out its unique attributes there. This reserve bottling showcases Gamay’s bright cherry and strawberry flavors, with elegant tones of tomato leaf, nut and granite.
Chehalem 2015 Ridgecrest Vineyards Gamay Noir (Ribbon Ridge); $25, 89 points. Gamay is still fairly rare in Oregon but ripens well into a style more reminiscent of Zinfandel or Grenache than of Beaujolais. Robust and fruity, this has tart and spicy cranberry and cherry notes, with a nice acid/tannin balance that keeps the flavors moving along nicely through the finish.
Alpamanta 2013 Estate Cabernet Franc (Mendoza); $13, 90 points. Initial aromas of stewy prune and raisin freshen up with airing. This has a full, grabby, muscular build and flavors of brown sugar and savory berry fruits. A rich finish deals molasses notes and chewy tannins.
T’Jara 2013 Cabernet Franc (North Fork of Long Island); $25, 91 points. Sweet spice, sage and oregano accent this gorgeously complex, penetrating Cabernet Franc. It’s satisfyingly plump with black fruit, but also brambly, herbaceous, and accented by deep, rich soil notes. Brisk acidity and a fringe of fine-grained, persistent tannins lend tautness and structure to the palate.
The Infinite Monkey Theorem 2015 Cabernet Franc (Colorado); $25, 90 points. Bright cherry and cranberry aromas are joined by savory notes of pizza dough, green pepper, and oregano. Lively red fruits pop on the palate, with the mild savory spices and pepper playing a supporting role. Refreshing acidity and medium bodied, this wine is quaffable and food friendly, and the tannins are pillowy and supportive. Delightful fruits linger on the finish alongside a touch of spice.
Château Haut-Cardinal 2011 Saint-Émilion; $35, 90 points. Still with its tannins intact, this is a firm wine with as much dry structure as fruit. It will need time for that structure to soften, giving a wine that will remain firm, which is typical for the vintage. The acidity gives the wine a lift at the end.
Recanati 2015 Merlot (Upper Galilee); $17, 90 points. Inky red-violet in the glass, this wine has aromas of black cherry and chocolate. It is pleasing on the palate, with fruit-dominated flavors of cherry, raspberry, pomegranate, vanilla and espresso. Smooth soft tannins linger a moment past a finish marked by a splash of cranberry with a touch of freshly ground coffee. Palm Bay International.
The Williamsburg Winery 2015 Reserve Merlot (Virginia); $49, 88 points. This wine evokes black cherry pie cooling in a window sill. Kirsch, clove, anise and toast form a powerful bouquet that carries through to the palate. Fleshy tannins and a creaminess suggest a rich body and makes for a long finish that ends with a zing of tart cherry.
Tapiz 2013 Black Tears Malbec (Uco Valley); $65, 92 points. Blackberry, cassis and floral aromas are the lead actors on a musky nose. This ripe Malbec feels thick and syrupy, while rich flavors of blackberry, cassis, chocolate and mocha finish smooth but shy. For such a big wine, this is light on tannic bite.
Ledson 2013 Malbec (Dry Creek Valley); $48, 90 points. Stemmy and layered, this wine is velvety, thick and rich in red and blue fruit. The oak is forward, while the tannins resolve to become soft as an old leather glove through the finish.
Antigal 2014 Uno Malbec (Mendoza); $18, 89 points. Black-fruit aromas come with notes of fresh-cut grass, rose petal and berry jam. The mouthfeel is creamy and sticky, with modest acidity. Ripe, rich flavors of berry fruits, cocoa and caramel finish jammy. Drink this tasty, saturated, soft-bodied Malbec through 2018. Southern Vines.
Cayuse 2014 Bionic Frog Syrah (Walla Walla Valley); $105, 94 points. Aromatically brooding notes of herb, mineral, black olive tapenade, stem, flower, soot and plum lead to vibrant, concentrated fruit and umami flavors. It’s an intense wine that brings a great sense of tension, along with abundant minerality. Give it time to open up.
Quinta da Romaneira 2014 Syrah (Duriense); $30, 90 points. This comes from one of the rare parcels of Syrah in the Douro Valley where the grape thrives. It is rich but packed with minerality from the Douro’s schist soil. It is also stylish, keeping its exuberant fruit in check by the balanced acidity and tannins. Drink from 2018.
Enate 2011 Syrah (Somontano); $30, 89 points. A tight beam of oak and char runs through prune, blackberry and cassis aromas. This Somontano Syrah feels tight like a fist, with rough tannins and bright acidity. Peppery oak and black-fruit flavors are lightly herbal and spicy on a snappy finish that doesn’t lay down. Drink through 2019.
Cadaretta 2014 Southwind Cabernet Sauvignon (Walla Walla Valley); $75, 92 points. From the winery’s estate plantings above Seven Hills Vineyard in the new SeVein project, this wine is still closed aromatically, needing time or air to coax out its vanilla, toast, herb and dark cherry notes. The palate is dense, delivering layer upon layer of dark fruit flavors, with a compelling texture and impeccable balance. It has a long life ahead of it. Best 2022–2028. Cellar Selection.–S.S.
Sandler 2015 Lazare Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Oak Knoll District); $55, 91 points. This juicy ready-to-drink wine is a counterpunch to those who believe Napa Cabernets are unapproachable in their early years. Black plum, blueberry juice and melted licorice aromas start the experience, then the palate picks up a peppery spice that gives depth to the black-currant and vanilla ripeness. The tannins are soft, if not weak, and the acidity is balanced. —M.K.
Feudo Principi di Butera 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Sicilia); $17, 88 points. Made entirely from Cabernet Sauvignon, this opens with black currant, tilled soil and star anise aromas. The dense palate offers black cherry, licorice and baking spice notes, with dusty tannins that lend a firm finish. Drink through 2021. Zonin USA. —K.O.
Casa Donoso 2013 Sucesor Red (Maule Valley); $25, 92 points. A nose led by aromas of fine oak, raspberry and mild spices opens this blend of 80% Carmenère and 20% Malbec. In the mouth, it’s nicely built, with delicate layering and not too much weight. Toasty, spicy red-fruit flavors include a tobacco note and the wine tastes a bit chocolaty on the tail end. Drink through 2023.
Achaval-Ferrer 2014 Quimera Red (Mendoza); $35, 91 points. Tarry, fiery aromas of berry fruits and oaky spice lead to an iron-fisted palate with rubbery tannins. This blend of Malbec, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot tastes of savory berry fruits and plum. The finish is spicy and delivers lushness and beefy weight. Drink through 2022.
Gracciano della Seta 2015 Rosso di Montepulciano; $16, 90 points.Truffle, woodland berry and violet aromas take center stage in this luminous red. The fresh, juicy palate doles out sour cherry, crushed raspberry, thyme and clove flavors, framed by taut, polished tannins. A star anise note closes the finish.
Sobon Estate 2014 Red (Amador County); $14, 88 points. From a reliable, established winery in the Sierra region, this wine was made from Syrah Barbera, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. Smoky, peppery aromas lead to ripe spicy fruit flavors and a firm but polished mouthfeel.
Marius 2016 Grenache-Syrah (Pays d’Oc); $12, 87 points.This wine is quiet at first, with tight scents of dark berries, black currant leaf and German chocolate cake. A pleasant tartness enlivens the slightly round palate, expressed in hints of cassis and underripe black cherry. Ample tannins provide some structure, with a medium-length finish.
Sean Thackrey NV Pleiades XXV Old Vines Red (California); $24, 87 points. It’s very difficult to rate this unusual bottling in a blind tasting. It’s a nonvintage dry red wine blended from mature years and has few if any peers in California. It’s very tasty because of traits that are usually considered flaws. A tawny color and an aroma like tawny Port lead to a very soft texture, and warm plum, raisin and nut flavors. The wine is rather full in body, light on tannins, and tastes quite mature and mellow.