Reviewers: What We're Drinking This Fall

Though it doesn’t necessarily feel like it in most parts of the globe, we’re officially cruising through the first week of fall! And as the leaves change color and when the weather cools down, now is the time to put away the crisp refreshing whites and Rosés and reach for something super comforting. Here’s what our Wine Advocate reviewers are sampling this fall:

“Golden Autumn is coming, same as the season for hairy crab. And no other crab on this planet tastes like hairy crab—it is small, yet juicy and delicate. In ancient China, poets like to eat hairy crab when enjoying chrysanthemum blossoms. They like to drink Chinese rice wine (yellow wine) with hairy crab, and I like to drink it, too. Anything else? Yes, Sherry should be another beautiful choice. Different styles of Sherry, dry or sweet, can all go very well with hairy crab. I can’t wait for the weather to get even cooler, when hairy crab becomes plump and delicious.” —Liwen Hao

“During the summer I tend to drink more sparkling wines and whites, so by the time fall arrives I’m ready for a more powerful and concentrated red, as I’ll also be having more energetic food, like meat stews. It’s time to uncork a Pie Franco from Casa Castillo in Jumilla, one of the Malbecs from Zuccardi, Piedra Infinita on a lucky day, or an old vine Carignan Vigno from Chile, ideally the Single Vineyard La Aguada from De Martino or the 2015 Vigno from Garage Wine Co. And when it comes to cheese and wine, I love to go back to classics like Stilton and Port or an aged Comté with a Vin Jaune from Jura. Alas, it’s still 30 degrees Celsius in Madrid as I’m writing this…” —Luis Gutierrez

“As summer dreams of Assyrtiko, Riesling, Moschofilero and Sauvignon Blanc, et al, turn cold, one needs to fortify oneself. Moscatel de Setúbal and Port are fine choices. They both come in different styles and types, but let's concentrate on Port since, unfortunately, the great Moscatels are hard to find in many places. For Port, you have many choices in various types of bottlings. There are Late Bottled Vintage Ports ("LBV"), Colheitas (vintage-dated Tawnies), Vintage Ports and age-indicated Tawnies, among others. For regular, easy drinking at affordable prices, young-ish Tawnies and LBVs tend to be my sweet spot. Old Colheitas and 40 Year Tawnies and the like are magnificent, of course, but they tend to be too pricey for everyday use. Great Vintage Ports are equally magnificent, but they require a lot of effort—and they can be hard to replace.

Tawnies are very versatile, and at the younger end they are not terribly expensive. They don't need decanting, generally, and they hold well once opened. You can open a 2000 Colheita, for example, and sip on it for a week or two. It will last easily (and longer). In age-indicated Tawnies, for casual drinking the 10 and 20 Year versions tend to be good choices.

LBVs come in two types. You can get the easy drinkers like Taylor's or Dow's, to name two, which are filtered and come with a twist-off top. No muss, no fuss. It is a good choice for casual drinking. Or, aim for the so-called "traditional" or "traditionally styled" LBVs. Those age better and are more expressive. They are generally of higher quality (not always, to be sure). However, there is muss and fuss, since they can throw sediment, especially if they have been aged—they are either unfiltered or only lightly filtered. They come with long corks. Some good examples are the Noval black label, Ramos Pinto, Warre's, Duorum, Crasto, Portal and Domingos Alves de Sousa. There are many other fine ones, too.” —Mark Squires

“Sangiovese is the perfect fall grape. Seasons in Italy change with ease thanks to the bright berry nuances and fresh acidity of the grape that will pair with both warm and cold temperatures. In Italian, ‘Mezzo Stagione’ refers to the layered fashions one might wear during sunny September days followed by chilly, foggy evenings. My Mezzo Stagione wines include Chianti Classico, Chianti Rufina and Brunello di Montalcino. Some of my recent favorites include the 2012 Le Potazzine Gorelli • Brunello di Montalcino and the 2013 San Giusto a Rentennano • Chianti Classico Riserva Le Baròncole.” —Monica Larner

Want to learn more about wine? Follow Robert Parker Wine Advocate on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or go to

More articles from this author