It might still be hovering around 90 degrees in Paso Robles (where delicious Felten Cellars wine hails from) but in SLO, I can actually feel the first crisp blast of autumn reviving my senses. The changing season calls for many things: a reflection on the summer fun we’ve had, cutting back the tomato vines, and a turn to richer foods and even richer wines. Note: If this tempranillo were any richer, it’d be wearing a mink coat and a fat strand of pearls. Intense, ripe aromas of Bing cherry and plum collide with spicy cinnamon and peppercorn, ushering in all of fall’s culinary delights (braised meats, root veggies, earthy mushrooms). Truth be told, I’ve been hoarding this small-batch bottle all summer long just waiting for that perfect chilly evening. Some things are just better when anticipated.
• Felten Cellars 2013 Paso Robles Tempranillo—About $30; feltencellars.com.
Goodbye white wine spritzer—I’m so over you. Lately, I’ve been craving a juicy, regal grown-up red wine with vibes of plum, tobacco, vanilla, cherry cola, cedar, and herby allure. Enter: this sensual malbec, perfect when paired with rosemary and mint-rubbed lamb chops or saucy beef short ribs over garlic mashed taters. Grown at Ancient Peaks’ dynamic Margarita Vineyard just 14 miles from the ocean, it’s a bright and intense offering that stands out against the county’s warmer-grown reds. Bottom line: It’s a unique, dinner-approved wine that deserves to be tucked into your fall kitchen cornucopia.
• Ancient Peaks 2011 White Label Malbec—$36; 22720 El Camino Real, Santa Margarita.
Hayley Thomas is all about reds right now. Send red wine suggestions and pairings to firstname.lastname@example.org.