As much as we all love to complain about the weather and the seasons, you have to admit, summers in Alberta are usually pretty awesome – long days, clear skies and fewer pesky insects than you’d get somewhere like in Winnipeg.

Despite the loss of that high summer heat, I personally love fall most of all. And almost every year (well, maybe not lately) it seems we get a sort of Indian summer. For those new to the term (which, I hope is politically correct), an Indian summer is defined as a period of unseasonably warm, dry weather that sometimes occurs in autumn (thanks Wikipedia!).

We know in our bones winter is soon to arrive, yet we find every excuse to spend time outdoors: yardwork, running, cycling or hiking, and hell, even at home we eat dinner outside when we can!

Food-wise,I’m busting out the Dutch oven, finding my cookbooks that feature all those hearty sauces and flavours that make winter a little more bearable, but also enjoying the fruits and veggies soon to go out of season. I’m also drinking well these days – thanks for asking!

Here are a few of my favourite wine picks to enjoy during these beautiful days of autumn.

J Lohr 2013 Falcon’s Perch Pinot Noir
Monterey County, California

Pretty well known and widely available, I feel as though I don’t give enough love to this well-crafted and consistent brand. The pinot really shows off a lot of berry fruit, with only a touch of earthy or vegetable aromas. Flavours are moderately intense for pinot, which should appeal to the steak and “big red” crowd, with a long, full-flavoured finish. Would really work with a homemade burger or an easy meat sauce, but still good on its own while watching the leaves fall. CSPC +741407. About $25-28

Bench 1775 2013 Merlot
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

BC merlot is always close at hand in my house, because I love the quality of the grape and the versatility with food (lots of savoury sauces, barbecue and roasts!). Plums and black pepper with dried herbs like dill and basil, and a touch of charred wood aromas. Mellow fruits with bright acids and edgy tannins would really shine with a roast or even a charcuterie selection. Fine stuff CSPC +859181. Around $28-30

Alvear 2015 “Alange” Tempranillo
Ribeiro del Guadiana, Spain

Tempranillo is a wrongly overlooked grape that in my opinion, the average wine drinker doesn’t reach for often. Raspberry jelly with strawberry, black pepper, and a little citrus on the nose lead into good fruits with a high toned, almost brassy edge to the flavours and food friendly acids without too much tannins. I’m leaning towards ham for a pairing or slow cooked pork shoulder, or even some nice lamb chops. CSPC +779673. About $15-16

Anselmi 2015 San Vincenzo IGT
Veneto, Itay

I’ve always had a soft spot for this wine, discovering it for the first time soon after my first trip to Italy. Made from the same grape as Soave, it’s packed with nectarine fruits, peaches and pears, with a touch of hazelnut and lemons. Great fruits with extra depth, and mild nuttiness and mineral flavours really round out the glass. This would be perfect with seared scallops or pasta with cream sauces. CSPC +726232 $25

CUMA 2015 Organic Torrentes
Salta, Argentina

Torrentes is the great white grape of Argentina, and it’s easy to see why. A steal of a price with bright lime aromas, pears, hot concrete mineral tones and a gentle touch of nectarines. Light and summery with generous fruits and a lovely sense of balance – thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. Really should sing with grilled chicken, white fish, or paella. CSPC213389 $14-15

Joiefarm 2013 Unoaked Chardonnay
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

The talented folks seem to have their Alsatian varieties noticed most, but I love their chardonnays too. Deeply coloured with an almost golden hue, the nose is lemon and apple with hints of sourdough bread (but no vanilla, since it’s unoaked). Well balanced and finely crafted, its possessed of a lovely texture and great flavours. Drink on its own or perhaps around the fire – indoors or out. CSPC +736300 $34

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