As the weather turns cooler wine drinkers usually shift gears, moving away from the crisp whites and rosés of summer to the lighter bodied reds of fall. But the change of seasons is no reason to completely abandon white wine--all that's needed is a change in style. When the chill of frost greets you in the morning and the daily high struggles to push past 60 degrees, look for richer wines with a little grip to them. It's the style you want when things turn cool, holding up well when paired with the heartier foods of autumn. Here are the panel's top three picks for cool weather whites:
2004 Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling, Cold Creek, $12.99
Riesling is a grape variety that works well across different seasons. Crisp and refreshing in summer, the plush fruit flavors and lively acidity make it a great match for spicy dishes or butternut squash soup, both fall favorites. This single vineyard entry from Ste. Michelle offers sweet peach fruit up front, backed by pear and lightly tart apple. Hints of cinnamon and nutmeg linger on the finish. A great buy on a world-class Riesling.
2004 Dusted Valley Viognier, $18.99
Viognier is a natural fall weather white and this Walla Walla winery has produced a worthy one with opulent peach and honeysuckle aromas that carry through on the palate. Partial malolactic fermentation results in a silky texture matched by rich and creamy stone fruit flavors, but good acidity helps balance things out. With just 500 cases produced, this wine won't be around for long--pick up a bottle while you can.
2003 Hugel Gentil, $11.99
An enticing blend of five different grape varieties results in another wine that works well across the seasons. Gewurztraminer imparts a bit of spice to the wine, making it a great match for Asian foods. Pinot Gris adds body, Riesling brings balancing acidity, Muscat provides intense floral aromas, while Sylvaner keeps things fresh and lively. Something for everyone, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Keep this Alsatian white in mind for Turkey Day.