This Month in Your Cellar: Make Room for Seasonal Fall Wines

Seasonal Fall Wines

Cabernet Franc is one of our favorite seasonal fall wines because its full-bodied, spicy flavors complement the cooler temperatures. Photo Credit: Wikipedia CC user slgckgc

A few weeks into September, like clockwork, I start getting email notifications letting me know that my wine allocations are on their way. If I’m not careful, I’ll end up with multiple cases of wine at my doorstep, and no place to put them. Fall is one of the two busiest times of the year for collectors–it’s when many wineries decide to ship back-ordered bottles to take advantage of the milder weather that this season provides. That’s why it’s important to have a plan for these bottles before they arrive at your door. The good news is that once you prep your cellar for the fall, this organization should last you through your next allocations in the spring. You only have to reorganize twice a year!

Seasonal Fall Wine Picks

Unlike seasonal summer wines, the majority of wines that people love drinking in the fall will cellar well into the next season. I rarely keep bottles of summery rosé beyond October 1, not because the wine is spoiled by then, but because rosé doesn’t feel like fall to me. On the other hand, richer, spicier wines complement the cooler season, and I can keep these bottles until April without feeling as though I’m drinking them out of season. Here are two essential seasonal fall wines that you’ll want to order now for your cellar:

Cabernet Franc

If you only have room for one new case of wine in your cellar right now, make it Cabernet Franc. It is the best fall grape in history. Cabernet Franc simply tastes like fall; rich, squash-like flavor with mildly spicy notes of bell pepper give it a savory quality that I adore. While everyone else is obsessing over pumpkin spice everything, I’m content with my Cab Franc vintages from the likes of Hourglass, Morlet Family, and Jonata. I tend to go for spicier, more aromatic vintages in the early part of the season, and as the weather gets colder and January approaches, I switch over to richer, more full-bodied versions of this wine. Try organizing your Cabernet Franc bottles from lightest to richest once they arrive to make choosing a wine to drink easier throughout the fall and winter seasons.

Viognier

This varietal is my top pick for a fall white wine. Viognier’s medium body and full flavors lend well to colder seasons that call for a slightly richer wine; save your steely, mineral-heavy Rieslings for warmer months. Like Cabernet Franc, I recommend going with lighter, fruitier flavors in September and October, then switching over to richer, creamier styles in November and December. Generally, it’s easiest to tell what type of Viognier you have when you look at how winemakers aged it. Vintages that weren’t aged in oak tend to have stronger floral notes and taste like peaches or mango–some vintages are even on the acidic side. These qualities make it perfect for that transition period between summer and fall, and producers like Alban craft beautiful examples of this style. Meanwhile, Viognier that’s been aged in new oak tends to taste more like vanilla or even nutmeg, and its acidity is replaced with more sweetness and roundness. Go with this style as the fall wears on.

How to Store Fall Wines

Cull Your Collection

The first step in storing your seasonal fall wines is to analyze your cellar and get rid of any bottles that no longer suit your needs. I recommend hiring a cellar expert to help you with this process, since it can be tough to decide whether a wine is worth keeping on your own. Go through every bottle in your cellar, and separate your age-worthy bottles from your drinkable bottles. Keep your age-worthy bottles on racks toward the back of your cellar. As for your drinkable bottles, separate your summer wines from all of your other drinkable wines. Depending on your tastes and preferences, summer wines can include:

  • Rosé (all styles)
  • Many Rieslings (mostly lighter styles that are mineral-heavy)
  • Light Pinot Grigio
  • Light Sauvignon Blanc (full-bodied styles can be enjoyed through the fall)
  • Light red blends (usually made with Pinot Noir)
  • Any other light-bodied white wine blends

If you don’t plan on aging or reselling these bottles, but you still want to drink them, put these on a shelf that you can see the moment you walk through your cellar door. These are the wines that it’s probably best to drink now if you don’t want to drink Pinot Grigio all December. These wines should ideally take up no more than a few feet of space. If they require more room, consider culling more bottles from your collection to give yourself more space for the new arrivals.

Organize by Style

Use the remaining space near your cellar door to store your fall allocations. Bottles you plan on aging should go further away from the door, while drinkable bottles should be stored close to your remaining summer wines in an easily accessible location. Then, as they arrive, organize your drinkable fall bottles by their tasting notes. Store light, fruity fall wines close to the cellar’s entrance so that they’re easy to see and grab, and store creamier styles you’ll want in late fall further back. After you’re done with your summer wines, you can move your lighter fall wines into their place. As the fall season wears on, you’ll slowly get through your lighter styles first, and move the heavier wines toward the front. A well-organized cellar shouldn’t be completely static; ideally, it constantly evolves to match the season and your drinking habits.

Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storageContact us today to get access to the world’s best wine.

With over a decade of experience in the wine industry, Derek Cienfuegos serves as Director of Collector Services at Vinfolio. During his tenure at Vinfolio, he has had the good fortune to work with some of the most distinguished wine collections in the country. Trained in wine production, Derek spent many years making wines commercially for some of Sonoma’s top producers. In addition, he has designed, opened, and managed two wine bars in San Francisco.