GEORGE BALLING: Our fall recommendations

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Sitting in our kitchen this morning we noticed the color starting to show in the leaves of trees and plants around our yard. The breeze has freshened too and gone are the smoky 90-degree highs, replaced with some rain and afternoon temperatures in the 60s. Yep Fall is here! With it our wine tastes change a bit add in all the great new things we have tasted recently and it is time for a recommendation column.

We recently scored one of the frequently offered close out deals on a really great Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. The 2013 Conn Creek $18, wine club price $16.20 is classic Napa Valley. We must admit when we first saw the vintage, 4 years old, and a white wine we were a bit concerned. Not after we tried it. The wine is delicious with mellow broiled citrus flavors and still possessing really nice acid, even with the aforementioned 4 years of age. Try it simply as an aperitif at your next gathering with some rich cheese and cured meats.

The 2015 Zonin Pinot Grigio $12, wine club price $10.80 is another winner. We are all familiar with the Zonin Prosecco which seems to be plastered in every grocery store on the planet; frankly I find that wine to be a bit simplistic and predictable. Their still wines though are something else altogether. The Grigio has good depth and wonderfully layered flavors, a nicely complex and balanced Grigio. Pair this one with wild rice and butternut squash soup for a great fall lunch.

Just this week I was fortunate enough to taste the new releases from Jordan Winery in Sonoma. Jordan only makes two wines Chardonnay and Cabernet. If I was this good at anything I would likely stop at 2 as well! In a sea of overdone California Chardonnay the 2015 Jordan Chard $38, wine club price $34.20 is a study in restraint and elegance, flavors of citrus and apple with well balanced oak it is at the top of my list to have with the first of season Dungeness crab.

The 2014 Jordan Cabernet $60, wine club price $54 is every bit the measure of the Chardonnay. The wine shows dense rich fruit developed in the small crop year of ’14. Firmly tannined and with a layered and expressive palate showing loads of dark plum flavors and a lengthy finish the wine is perfect for your fall and winter special occasions, especially those involving beef.

Speaking of special I was also lucky to taste the new release from Opus One the 2014 $325, wine club price $292.50 this week. One of the most iconic properties in all of California Wine Country Opus has the most refined of business models, this one Bordeaux blend developed in the 70s as a joint venture between Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippede Rothschild. It is extraordinary wine and any chance I get to try it I reflect on just what a great job I have. Smooth and silky in the mouth loaded with flavors of cassis dark plum and rich cherry the wine should be at the top of every collector’s list. Aromas of cassis spice box and black olive greet you on the first sip. For your most special of recipients this is their Christmas present.

I have known of the wines from Bonny Doon for decades, they just recently reemerged in the North Idaho market though and this week I tasted through the lot of them. All were great but I instantly put the 2015 Clos de Gilroy Grenache $20, wine club price $18 on the shelf and expect to keep it there for some time assuming we can keep it in stock! The wine is sleek and polished with a lovely nose of ripe cherries backed by savory notes of Herbs de Provence. The 24 percent Mourvédre blended in gives the wine real heft and body. I normally serve Pinot Noir with my Thanksgiving turkey but this year I am pouring this.

I have always been a sucker for Napa Valley Merlot. The 2013 Swanson Merlot $27, wine club price $24.30 is why. Merlot has been so maligned for so long, but if you try it that all ends. This is dark rich and dense red wine with classic aromas and flavors of chocolate covered cherries and mocha. Regardless of the disdain surrounding the varietal I would drink this all day long, especially with my Christmas prime rib.

There you have it, and I could go on… And on… We have many new wines in the shop perfect for the fall and all your entertaining. It is a great time to stop by the shop and check out all the new wines and the new table settings to make your holiday table really sparkle.

If there is a topic you would like to read about or if you have questions on wine, you can email George@thedinnerpartyshop.com, or make suggestions by contacting the Healthy Community section at the Coeur d’Alene Press.

• • •

George Balling is co-owner (with his wife Mary Lancaster) of the dinner party, a wine and table top décor shop located by Costco in Coeur d’Alene. George worked as a judge in many wine competitions, and his articles are published around the country. You can learn more about the dinner party at www.thedinnerpartyshop.com. Be sure and check out our weekly blog at www.thedinnerpartyshop.com/home/blog-2. You can get all of these articles as well as other great wine tips by friending us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/#!/dinnerpartyshop.

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