8 Wines For Pumpkin-Loving Palates
You know that fall is in full swing when you place your first order for a pumpkin-spiced latte. And as wistful as the end of summer can be, the brisk air and the shorter days hold exciting new pleasures. Nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and allspice make their annual comebacks in coffees and pies.
Wine can boast similar notes. Oak aging and long maturation create a wealth of mellow, spicy flavors. This harvest of fall favorites should appeal to pumpkin-loving palates.
The longest-aged Riojas from Spain, namely the Reservas and Gran Reservas, which have spent many years in barrel, mellow into some of the spiciest, smoothest wines around. The American oak in which they’re aged adds wonderful tones of nutmeg and vanilla.
92 Marqués del Puerto 2004 Gran Reserva (Rioja)
Mild rooty notes come side-by-side with plum, berry and cola aromas. This is deep, pure and elegant in the mouth, with ripe berry, spice and vanilla flavors doled out in proper amounts. A loamy finish with just enough acidic kick confirms the excellence of this Gran Reserva from a classic vintage. Drink through 2018. W. Direct. —M.S.
abv: 13.5% Price: $50
If you thought Rioja was always red, try the mature white wines from the region. Their rounded richness is reminiscent of gingerbread—with all our favorite notions of spice.
89 Marqués de Murrieta 2008 Capellanía Viura (Rioja)
Gold in color then cheesy, cidery and dense on the nose, this high-end Viura is plump and resiny in feel, with woody flavors of baked white fruits. Hailing from a warm vintage, this goes back and forth between ripe, mealy and oaky and tense and nervy. If drinking now, expect more oak than fruit. Maisons Marques & Domaines USA. —M.S.
abv: 13.5% Price: $28
Australian Shirazes, with their robust and fully ripe fruit, marry well with the wood, chocolate and spice conferred by oak aging. They’re big and bold, but delicious and warming.
93 3 Rings 2006 Reserve Shiraz (Barossa Valley)
It’s not often you find mature, ready-to-drink Shiraz like this. From extended time in oak, this has some mossy, vanilla shadings on the nose that ease gently into savory, meaty notes and dried plum flavors. Hints of brown sugar, chocolate and mint linger on the supple finish. Drink now and over the next few years. Quintessential Wines. Editors’ Choice. —J.C.
abv: 15.9% Price: $42
Time is the secret ingredient that transforms young wine into a fragrant, aromatic marvel. Nebbiolo, from Piedmont in Italy, takes wonderfully to aging and wows for its tertiary flavors.
98 Cavallotto 2010 Bricco Boschis (Barolo)
Leather, balsamic herbs, black fruit and spice aromas lead the nose. The delicious palate delivers ripe black cherry, crushed raspberry, licorice, cinnamon, black pepper and carob notes, balanced by bold, yet noble tannins and vibrant acidity. It needs years to fully develop, and it will age for decades. Drink 2020–40. Michael Skurnik Wines. Cellar Selection. —K.O.
abv: 14.5% Price: $80
Southern Rhône reds are often redolent with spice—both from the grape varieties and the oak aging. Age only accentuates these aromatic notes.
93 Paul Jaboulet Aîné 2010 Domaine de Terre Ferme Red (Châteauneuf-du-Pape)
A terrific effort, the 2010 Terre Ferme is a full-bodied, velvety-textured wine with a long, multidimensional finish. It’s pungent and savory upfront in its aromas of clove and allspice, but raspberry undertones add another layer of interest. Those grace notes are all underscored by the powerful bass duo of black olive and espresso. Drink now–2025. Frederick Wildman & Sons, Ltd. Cellar Selection. —J.C.
abv: 15% Price: $100
White wines are as delightful as reds when they have dimensions of flavor that go beyond simple fruit. Try this paired with a Moroccan tagine on a cold night.
93 Ken Forrester 2011 The FMC Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch)
This is a rich, well-balanced and layered white with lots of aging potential. Notes of red apple, peach, melon and orange blossom mingle with spicy accents of toasted brioche, clove and vanilla bean. It’s medium weight and crisp in acidity, with a long, evolving finish that’s decadent yet elegant. Drink now–2020. Cape Classics. Cellar Selection. —L.B.
abv: 14% Price: $65
Red wines don’t have to be powerful to be spicy. Elegant Pinot Noirs often reveal an astonishing array of aromatics.
94 Alloro 2010 Estate Riservata Pinot Noir (Chehalem Mountains)
Complex and balanced, this barrel-select blend, all from estate-grown grapes, spent 11 months in roughly half new French oak. Tart red and black fruits are nuanced with baking spices and darker notes of clove and espresso. This wine carries an extra level of depth and weight, as befits a designated reserve. Delicious now, or cellar until 2024. Cellar Selection. —P.G.
abv: 13% Price: $45
There are few wines that match the intricate and seductive spiciness of old Tawny Ports. These fortified wines, made from savory grape varieties aged for decades in large pipas, or barrels, emerge as elixir-like beauties. Have them with chocolate, or even better, with dried Medjool dates dipped in chocolate.
93 Senhora do Convento NV Porto Tawny 40 Years Old
This is a smooth toffee and caramel-flavored wine. It has a comfortable maturity, with acidity coming from hints of fruitiness, and sweet sultanas that act as a foil. Like any aged tawny, this magnificent wine is ready to drink. Sherry-Lehmann. —R.V.
abv: 19.5% Price: NA