By Rick Riozza

Last week, while still in the throes of the summer heat, we rushed in on some of our new favorite wines of autumn. Either we couldn’t wait to spread the news, or we couldn’t wait to get out of the swelter. In any case, so much wine is indeed showing up on the shelves this fall, that it would be foolish to stop recommending a few right now!

One of our featured reds in our last column was the Italian Barbera. On a good money day, we recommended the G.D. Vajra Barbera d’Alba Superiore at the premium price of $40.

We wrote that the Barbera hailed from the sun-drenched hills of Piedmont Italy, just a little south-east from Torino. The same region where the great Barolos and Barberescos are produced. This Barbera is wonderful with a light to medium-body feel—plus it’s so delicious!


But there are a bunch of Barolo fans in our readership. And it just so happens that this same winery has again produced one of the best Barolo out this season: the 2019 G.D. Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole, at around $90. You’ll definitely will be treating yourself—consider it an early holiday present.

Recent wine reviews report, “This is an elegant but juicy Barolo, with vibrant acidity and a fluid profile—Burgundian in nature, that exudes marasca cherries, raspberry, mown hay, licorice, fresh roses, violets, mint, sage, wet stones, and eucalyptus aromas and flavors.” What did we say! This wine is worth saving up for!

Okay—let’s come back down to earth and cover some more affordable wines available right now at any supermarket in town. These wines will effortlessly bump up the presentation of your patio and dinner tables:

Last time we mentioned the tasty OVZ Zin at only $9 a bottle. There are times when you wish to spend more for a wine you’re bringing over to a friend’s dinner. If you wish to impress, try the 2021 Seghesio Sonoma Valley Old Vine Zinfandel at around $40.

Zinners know well the Seghesio brand—their Zin portfolio is extensive and it’s quality stuff. This Sonoma Old Vine is a rare wine—very old vines. Wine Spectator (WS) writes: “The wine shows finesse and briary fruit, with wild berry, mocha and black licorice flavors that gather richness and zest toward lively tannins.

Since Sauvignon Blanc is one of the official white wines for us desert dwellers, let us cover some of the savvy blancs available now:

Back ten years ago or so, this column was one of the first to highlight and recommend the McBride Sisters wine portfolio. Most enthusiasts know their serendipitous story now and applaud their integrity in wine making.

The 2022 McBride Sisters Collection Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough ($17) “features fresh green apple, passion fruit, and Key lime flavors that leap out of the glass, with notes of lemongrass, tangerine, and peppery white flowers on the finish.” (WS) A tasty treat for sure!

Another Kiwi Sauv Blanc we see on every shelf is the 2022 Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc ($18). There is a huge fan base of this wine. “Fresh and aromatic, evoking lemon verbena and lemongrass flavors that are juicy and refreshing, with a touch of salted lime and fresh grated ginger, while pear and yuzu notes linger on the finish.” (WS) Talk about a panoply of tastes showing on this baby!

So let’s finish the savvy blancs with another Kiwi wine: 2022 Matua Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough ($12). “This offers a fresh lovely mix of Key lime, mango, and Meyer lemon flavors, with a touch of salted ripe melon on a sleek, juicy frame, backed by a hint of lemongrass that lingers.” (WS)

Let’s conclude with some nice Chianti: If we’re saving up some shekels for the holidays let’s consider the 2018 Castella di Monsanto Chianti Classico Il Poggio Gran Selezione ($75).

“A muscular red, with iron, almond, tar, and underbrush aromas that provide a savory element to the core of cherry and blackberry fruit. Dense, dusty tannins and a vein of mineral.” (WS) It’s one of the highest scoring Chianti at around 96 points!

Now if we wish simply to taste a very nice Chianti without all the fanfare and price, we will consider the 2021 Castello di Gabbiano at around $10. “This is a bright, expressive red, offering strawberry and cherry flavors that show a hint of earth, followed by a firm moderately long finish.” (WS)

Well okay—let’s throw in a nice Italian dessert wine for kicks: 2021 Vietti Moscato d’Asti, ($18). The winemaker notes state:” Pale sunshine yellow color and slight frizzante, this Moscato d’Asti has intense aromas of peaches, rose petals and ginger. On the palate, it is delicately sweet and sparkling with balanced acidity, good complexity and a finish of fresh apricots.

Drink as an aperitif, perfect accompaniment to Pan-Asian cuisine and lobster as well as pastry, fruit based and creamy desserts and blue cheeses.” Buon Appetito & Saluti!!