Wine & Spirits

Reds for the Change of Season

Four red wine picks for fall.

September in Minnesota can mean 80 degrees or snow. Having a wine that fits with our crazy change of season can be tricky. The standbys of a light-styled Australian shiraz or soft California merlot fit, but the world offers us many more fun choices. Plus, we all have friends who only drink red, so here’s a chance to have them try something new. This month’s selection is available at McDonald’s Liquor, 5010 34th Ave. S., Mpls., 612-721-6686,

Cardwell Hills

Pinot Noir 2009 (Willamette, OR)
PRICE: $21.99
GRAPE: 100 percent pinot noir

With a big, complex nose, followed by rich raspberry and blackberry fruit, this wine has a hint of vanilla. It’s what we have come to expect from well-made Oregon pinot and would go nicely with grilled salmon.

Rio Madre

Graciano 2010 (Rioja, Spain)
PRICE: $10.99
GRAPE: 100 percent graciano

Rioja’s other red grape is usually blended with tempranillo to soften up that huge grape and add elegance. This is the first all graciano I have ever had. Its cherry and cassis flavors go with flowers and spice on the nose. A medium pork chop would be my choice with this wine.

Domaine Diochon

Moulin-a-Vent 2009 (Beaujolais, France)
PRICE: $17.99
GRAPE: 100 percent gamay

It smells (and kind of tastes) like strawberry rhubarb pie with all that fruit, toasty crust, and vanilla notes. Bigger than I would have guessed, it’s more like an earthy pinot noir—not California cab. Lamb would be crazy good with this wine.

Sottimano Langhe

Nebbiolo 2007 (Piedmont, Italy)
PRICE: $24.99
GRAPE: 100 percent nebbiolo

Langhe is a sub-region of Piedmont, like Chianti is in Tuscany. So if you love barolo, here’s your new best friend at a third the price. With spicy black cherry and anise, it’s medium bodied for nebbiolo and ready to drink. This one is begging for pasta and Italian sausage.

Bill Coy runs Vintage U, which organizes wine tastings, classes, and events for corporate groups, wine enthusiasts, and the general public. Reach him at