Wine: Sweet September
by Kay Pfaltz
Hamlet speaks of “thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls.” I understand this as there often come moments during the month of September when I’ll recall, not with volitive thought or conscious mind but viscerally from somewhere deep within, the anxious ache of back to school; of new lunchboxes, dresses and shoes; of turning leaves and shorter days. The experience of fall, interlaced with summer’s end, stirs my memory perhaps more than any other season, evoking emotions that drop into present a taste of the past.
On the French Riviera September quickly became my favorite month. Tourists trickled away leaving beaches empty, yet the water remained warm from months of summer sun. And the light….that shortened light which would caste its glow over the beach, creating shadows in the dips and hollows of the sand. In Paris, too, September was a favorite month. La Rentrée it’s called, ‘the return’ when families returned from ‘vacances’ and students returned to school. The city’s air had a welcome nip, stores and restaurants reopened and there was vibrancy and excitement in the streets.
In Virginia, September is also a favorite month…with days of brilliant clarity and warmth yet that delicious hint of fall we all await. And down at the shore, the water’s still warm and the tourists are fleeing. And so…beach wines, back to school wines, whatever your preference, raise a glass and enjoy these poignant days that will never return to us again in quite the same way…except perhaps in memory.
A few wines worthy of September’s exceptional grace:
Domaine Berthelemot, Pommard, Noizons, 2009 – Since September heralds fall, red drinkers rejoice. Yet, still warm, early September calls for lighter reds. I love good Burgundy more than any other wine, but so many Burgundies are hugely expensive and don’t seem to deliver. I’ve found recent vintages of Pommard particularly difficult, but here is an exception that offers everything a great Burgundy should. With smoky notes, a touch of cherry and real Côte de Beaune terroir, this wine is silky elegance. $51
Beronia, Rioja, reserva, 2006 – Moving through the month to an evening cookout on the grill with sweaters on! (you, not the grill that is)…and it’s time to pull out the Rioja, reserva. Look for a complex bouquet of coffee, vanilla, leather and cloves. Smooth texture on the palate with notes of black cherry, orange peel and oak. $21
Château La Calisse, rosé, 2011 – For diehard summer fans gripping fast to the last long, carefree evenings, here’s a rosé with which to hold onto the illusion of summertime. Since summer encourages that slowed-down pace of life, take a deep breath then sip a chilled glass of La Calisse and pretend a little. Owner Patricia Ortelli makes this all organic delicate blend of Syrah and Grenache. Pale orange with aromas of raspberries, this is rosé perfection. $24
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