Drink with the seasons: "Autumn is a melancholic season, of meditation; the rain starts, mushrooms appear, quince, pumpkin, nuts, truffles, wild game, and many other products. The season smells of damp earth, iodine, smoke, dry leaves, so that's why we look for wines to extol these aromas."
Eleven Madison Park, New York
Dustin Wilson, Wine Director
White: Cantina Terlano Pinot Bianco, "Vorberg," Alto Adige, Italy 2009
"As we move away from summer and toward the cooler months, richer whites play a bigger role for us. This is a great single-vineyard Pinot Bianco from northern Italy from a quality driven co-op that shows rich, textured, nutty, and baked fruit flavors but without being heavy or cloying."
Red: Domaine Bois de Boursan Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône Valley, France 2009
"I am excited about this wine because it has warm, rich, ripe fruit, but shows it with a very elegant approach. It is made in a traditional fashion, shows sense of place with great structure, and offers plenty of savory, meaty, spicy tones that work great with fall fare."
Perfect pairings: "Braised and grilled meats, game and fowl work great for the Châteauneuf-du-Pape, especially if they are spiced up with herbs and pepper. For the white wine, butter-poached fish or shellfish line up great with the texture of this wine. Add in some nice sautéed mushrooms and some hazelnuts or bitter almonds, and the wine is a home run."
The French Laundry, Yountville, California
Dennis Kelly, Head Sommelier
White: Mas de Daumas Gassac Vin de Pays de L'Hérault, Languedoc-Roussillon, France 2011
"Chardonnay and Viognier provide weight and texture without new oak influence, while Chenin Blanc and Petit Manseng provide a backbone of acidity that gives this wine an affinity for food. I love to pair this with richer seafood courses like monkfish, sturgeon, and lobster."
Red: Jérôme Chezeaux Nuits-Saint-Georges, "Rue de Chaux," Burgundy, 1er Cru, France 2008
"An elegant expression of Nuits-Saint-Georges, from a rising-star producer offering moderate oak and bright, fresh acidity. A wonderful complement to light meat courses like poularde, quail, and squab."
Treasure hunt: "We look for wines that offer balance, typicity, and value for our wine-by-the-glass program.… Our standards are extremely high, and in order to pour the quality of wine that we want at a price that is reasonable, we need to find a high-quality wine that still offers value. Unfortunately, those are two attributes that are usually mutually exclusive…and there lies our challenge."
Hatfield's, Los Angeles
Jonathan Baird, Sommelier
White: Keller Estate Trocken Riesling, Rhine Valley, Germany 2011
"The 2008 vintage of this wine was the one that made me fall in love with dry Riesling. It is the perfect balance of fruit, acid, minerals, and power. The 2011 bottling is delightful with scallops and other 'meaty' seafood, but especially with Quinn Hatfield's signature 'Croque Madame' [yellowtail sashimi, prosciutto, sunny-side-up quail egg, grilled brioche]. The higher acid and tease of sweetness helps balance the richness of the dishes."
Red: Georges Descombes Brouilly, Beaujolais, France 2010
"I've started to become a big fan of Beaujolais lately because I love the graphite—pencil shavings—aromatic element of the Gamay grape. It adds to the wonderful complexity of the wines and helps the fruit play through the dishes. This particular wine is refreshingly energetic and full of blueberry and candied citrus essences. It pairs very well with cheese, charcuterie, and other hearty meat dishes."
Job satisfaction: "Right now, I am pairing the Brouilly with our Thirty-Six-Hour Slow-Cooked Beef Rib 'Pastrami.' When I first tasted this dish with this wine, I was by myself in our office and threw up my hands, exclaiming, 'I love my job!'"
Richard Hanauer, Sommelier
White: Weingut Knoll Grüner Veltliner Federspiel, Wachau, Austria 2010
"This wine goes with everything, bringing life to fall dishes. It has medium body with intense flavors, and a straightforwardness with a heightened minerality. It's amazing to start with, especially at this time of the year, as menu flavors are getting away from the focus of freshness-from-the-ground and more about the focus on the freshness of the proteins."
Red: Château Lynch-Moussas Pauillac, Bordeaux, France 2006
"This wine, when released in 2006, wasn't an exceptional vintage, but six years later it is fully integrated and shows a halfway point between its youth and adulthood. Its tannins are round and soft, with its fruit-set split between fruit and earth. It has some age, so it isn't going to fight food, but also has the muscle to stand up to our meat courses and the grace to complement seafood. It's drinking more mature now, showing secondary flavors, more spice flavors, more spicy bacon flavors—which go really well with the fall flavors you see on our menu."