Perfect picnic wines — no corkscrew required
It's hard to beat enjoying refreshing wines with casual, light fare during a hike and picnic on a sunny, crisp autumn afternoon. And as luck would have it, Western Pennsylvania's latest forecasts envision a continuation of this fall's remarkably warm and dry weather through the end of October. Marvelous red, yellow and orange leaves should emerge to please the eye.
Wine regions near and far offer plenty of easy drinking wines perfect for picnics and hikes. Places with fun outdoor traditions provide especially enticing examples. Choose crisp, refreshing wines relatively low in alcohol by volume. Consider the following all of which come with convenient, easy opening screw caps.
• 2016 Domaine Meyer-Fonné, Riesling “Tradition,” Alsace, France: (PLCB Code: 30353; $14.99): Alsace tucks away in northeastern France, directly beside the Vosges Mountains' protective peaks. This creates one of France's driest and sunniest climates where lingering autumn days and colorful vineyards offer picture perfect picnic spots. One of Alsace's top growers produces this delicious wine with Riesling fruit fermented in temperature-controlled, stainless-steel tanks to maximize ripe apple and fresh floral aromas. Ripe, concentrated tree-fruit flavors meld with zesty acidity and light creamy notes for easy quaffing. Highly recommended.
• 2016 Elena Walch, Pinot Grigio, Alto-Adige/Südtirol, Italy: (PLCB Code: 34912; $14.99): As Italy's northern most region, Alto-Adige/Südtirol sits within a deep amphitheater formed by the surrounding slopes of the Alps and Dolomite Mountains. During late October's chilly days and clear, blue skies, locals celebrate with the Törggelen tradition. “Families hike up the hillsides to cozy farmhouses,” Karoline Walch says. “Young and old enjoy new wines and beautiful scenery while eating chestnuts and cured meats.” This wine's lovely floral and ripe tropical fruit aromas open to ripe pear and melon flavors. Crisp acidity balances a dry, fruity finish. Highly Recommended.
• 2016 Dr. Konstantin Frank, Rkatsiteli, Finger Lakes, New York State: (Available online from the winery at drfrankwines.com; $16.99): In the early 1960s, Dr. Frank boldly planted European grape vines on Lake Keuka's steep, surrounding hillsides. His well-crafted wines pleased consumers and skeptical critics alike, and today his descendants continue the tradition.
Rkatsiteli (pronounced er-ka-tsee-tely), which came originally from the Republic of Georgia, delivers marvelous aromas of ripe apples with light quince notes. Crisp, fruity flavors balance with refreshing mineral notes and a dry, lingering finish. Only 12 percent alcohol by volume. Highly recommended.
• 2015 Château de Montfort, Vouvray “Demi-Sec,” France: (Code 8747; $14.99): This wine comes from Chenin Blanc vines toiling on a limestone plateau and hillsides overlooking the picturesque Loire River. The wine's yellow color offers ripe peach and white flower aromas opening to ripe, juicy peach and citrus flavors. Pronounced acidity balances just a hint of sweetness in the fruity, lingering finish. Recommended.
• 2015 Joseph Drouhin, “Laforêt” Bourgogne Pinot Noir, France: (PLCB Code: 4546; $18.99): Burgundy's cool climate and limestone soils provide delicately perfumed Pinot Noir grapes like no others in the world. The 2015 vintage's extra ripeness enabled fourth generation winemaker Véronique Drouhin-Boss to produce a modest, yet immediately appealing wine.
Ripe black-cherry and spicy, earthy aromas unfold to fresh raspberry and cherry flavors. Fresh acidity and smooth tannins frame the fruity, elegant finish. Highly recommended.
Dave DeSimone writes about wine for the Tribune-Review.