A Season of New Releases, Top Scores, and Fall Pairings
Early morning harvest, the crunch of leaves beneath the soles of boots, corn mazes popping up along country roads, fresh piles of firewood, geese overhead—whatever fall may sound, look, or taste like for you, it has undoubtedly arrived. The earth has been stirred once again from its lazy, hot daze and is awake in every way: cooking, ripening, raining, playing, and foraging. We always begin our 2021 Fall Release a hair before the Autumnal Equinox, and by the time our wines have officially been announced and are on their way to new homes and cellars, the new season is here right on time. We’re excited, to say the least, so we’re sharing our notes on the new wines, the recipes we think they’ll be delicious within the coming months, and some fantastic new scores we received on this season’s selections.
99-Point 2016 Cuvée Keltie Syrah
Pair with Lamb Stew
We’re not burying the lead here. At the very top of this list is our breathtaking and bold 2016 Cuvée Keltie Syrah, awarded a prestigious 99 points by Jeb Dunnuck! Making a 99-point wine is no small thing, and we’re so immensely proud of our team. The 2016 Keltie possesses lush thickets of blueberry, lavender, black cherry, and rustic tones of olive, cured meat, and tobacco. This Syrah has every reason to be on your table this autumn and deserves to be sipped with a decadent lamb, chestnut, and cranberry stew served with rosemary mashed potatoes. This recipe is like a tailgating dish fit for a king, but a glass of the top-rated 2016 Cuvée Keltie brings the meal and the occasion you’re celebrating to a whole other level. This is the wine you want to bring out on Thanksgiving Day, open up for autumn engagement parties, or share by the fire as you reunite with longtime friends. This small-production vintage is priced available now in our online shop. Get this fantastic Sonoma Syrah and add a 99-point wine to your cellar this fall.
2017 Cushing’s Block Pinot Noir
Sip with Pork Chops and Bacon-Roasted Beets
Pinot Noir and fall are a tale as old as time. It’s like Cabernet Sauvignon and steak. You shouldn’t mess with tradition, but you can certainly add some pizzazz to it. Uncork a bottle of the 2017 Cushing’s Block Pinot Noir, rated 94 points by Antonio Galloni, and dive into pork chops with bacon-roasted beets, apples, and goat cheese. This meal hits all the mouth-watering bases of savory, tart, crispy, and creamy. And at-bat is the intense 2017 Cushing’s Block, a single-vineyard Pinot Noir that knocks it out of the park with kirsch, spring wildflower, plum sauce, and ripe blackberry. Save this Pinot Noir pairing for when the whole family’s together and the table is packed on a Sunday night supper this fall.
95-Point 2017 Cuvée Christine
Serve with Autumn Soup
Think of chilly weekends spent by the fire with a good book on the coffee table and favorite movies on the TV. Those weekends are when you truly feel the season relaxing the world’s shoulders a bit. Those weekends are medicine for the soul. And those weekends are complete with a pot of hot autumn soup on the stove, cornbread fresh out of the oven, and a decanter full of 2017 Cuvée Christine Syrah, rated 95 points by Jeb Dunnuck. For your soup to really stand up to this Syrah’s spicy, dark fruit cornucopia of flavors, use a rich beef chuck that melts in your mouth. Throw onions, carrots, rosemary, turnips, and potatoes into the crockpot for around 8 hours and serve with skillet-cooked cornbread. The hearty broth and fall vegetables will bring a great fall complexity to this vintage’s layers of super-ripe plum, cherry, and licorice, described by Antoni Galloni as, “Wonderfully polished. Perfumed, silky, and open.”
2019 Venus Roussanne-Viognier
Drink with Butternut Squash Ravioli
Viognier is not a usual suspect when most people think of fall delights, but it is in the Donelan household. We recommend a cool glass of our 2019 Venus Roussanne-Viognier with one of the most beloved autumn flavors of all in a homemade butternut squash ravioli. This lemon zested Italian fare is extremely rich, but it’s balanced to a tee alongside Venus’s acidity, almond croissant, ripe apricot, and beautiful salinity. The roasted squash might as well be a symbol of autumn, and our Roussanne-Viognier will bring a refreshing spark to the traditional flavor. If you’re hosting a Halloween dinner party, this pairing will get people in the spirit.
96-Point 2017 Judge Vineyard Syrah
Enjoy with Filet Mignon and Truffle Risotto
The magnificent Judge Vineyard is one of our coolest sites, and because the owner-proprietor lives on the property, it’s also diligently cared for. We harvest the Bennett Valley fruit every year in October. Antonio Galloni described the new 2017 Judge vintage as, “one of the most complete wines in the Donelan range this year. Deep and powerful, with terrific persistence.” Persistence is a great word choice for the Judge Syrah, because year after year, it remains a classic. The 2017 Judge, awarded 96 points by Dunnuck and 95 points by Galloni, has an intense, savory personality you don’t expect to find shrouded in layers of cedar, spice, dark red, and purple berry compote, and licorice. We’d set this wine down next to a plate of Filet Mignon and Truffle Risotto any day of the week, but especially on a date night.
If there’s one thing we love as much as good wine, it’s good food, and bringing them together in thoughtful, home-cooked recipes creates absolute magic. We hope you have exciting family meals and dinner parties planned this fall, and we hope you’ll choose a bottle of Donelan to join them. Don’t forget to shop the stellar 2016 Cuvée Keltie, and tag us on social media so we can see how you’re pairing the new Donelan Family Wines this season. Cheers!