The Wine Guy - Greg Walter

I love the end of summer

I think it would be fair to say that many, if not most, people look at the end of summer with some sadness. Back to work, back to school, vacations are over; everyone’s back to the daily routine. I guess that in yet another way I am an anomaly — even an oddity — as I always look forward to the end of summer.

The coming of fall brings many things that I love. Aside from the change in season with cool, crisp evenings and beautiful colors as we head into October, three things in particular usually are at the top of that list: 1) Harvest! 2) The last months of baseball, and 3) The start of football season.

Well, my San Francisco Giants are in the final week of a disappointing season, counting the days until they can go home and sleep it off. (I am looking forward to becoming an Oakland As fan at least for the post-season!) My San Francisco 49ers have stumbled at the starting gate, but overall things look bright for them. And the 2013 harvest here in Sonoma and up and down the West Coast is well underway and all of the reports I am hearing point to a good-sized, high-quality vintage, despite our little rain event this past week. So, I guess two out of three isn’t bad!

As the summer has wound down, I’ve tasted some interesting wines. Three of them are a bit under the radar and perfect for your fall entertaining needs and enjoyment, and they are priced pretty reasonably for that post-vacation budget.

R2 Wine Company “Hannah Rose” Rosé 2012 ($18). This bright, zesty rosé is a blend of Grenache, Carignane and Mourvedre sourced from the Santa Ynez Valley and while the wine isn’t sourced from here, the winery and its owner, Roger Roessler are certainly locals. The Hannah Rose is definitely French in style with crisp acidity and bright strawberry flavors. I really love rosé and this is a good one. The best way to get the Hannah Rose is to visit the R2 Wine Co. tasting room at 854 Broadway.

Gundlach Bundschu Gewurztraminer Sonoma Coast 2012 ($22.50). I have always been a fan of Gewurztraminer, especially the really dry versions where the aromatics really take center stage. This version, from the winery’s estate vineyards at the southeastern corner of the valley, explodes in the glass with great rose petal and orange blossom aromas and bright, spicy pear flavors on the palate. It will work with a great range of foods, but I just love drinking it on its own. Delicious.

Kopriva Chardonnay Carneros Unoaked 2011 ($18). Kopriva is a small, family owned vineyard and wine operation in Carneros. Prior to tasting this wine, I had only heard about the label. Unoaked Chardonnay is a bit of a rising trend and this example was fermented in stainless steel and did not go through malolactic fermentation. It’s a great example of what Chardonnay tastes like without the toasty, buttery tones usually associated with oak. The Kopriva Chardonnay has bright, crisp fruit, delicate texture with good structure.

As always, you can email me with questions or comments at

Greg Walter, a Sonoma resident for more than 20 years, has been in wine and food publishing for more than 30 years, 15 of which were spent as a senior editor and later president of Wine Spectator magazine. Today he writes the PinotReport newsletter ( and publishes books through his Carneros Press imprint (

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