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Message in a bottle: 5 wine picks from local experts 

The bar scene’s trustworthy wine experts weigh in on what you should be drinking right now.

click to enlarge It's always wine time at Little Oak - MEGHAN TANSEY WHITTON
  • It's always wine time at Little Oak
  • Meghan Tansey Whitton

So far, this fall isn't really all that fall-like—not that we're complaining. And neither is Nicole Raufeisen, the sommelier and manager at the waterfront's 27-seater bar Little Oak. She's easing into the season, sipping on mostly lighter reds, as well as sherry. "I know people don't think of sherry as a wine because it's fortified and many think of it as old fashioned, but it's so versatile. There's a sherry for every type of food, I swear!" she says.

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"They can range from beautifully briny to dark and nutty depending on the style. I love a good manzanilla with oysters or a piece of Manchego cheese. I also really love it as an alternative to vermouth in martinis." Raufeisen recommends the light, dry Lustau Manzanilla Papirusa ($8/2oz) from southern Spain's Sanlúcar de Barrameda. "It smells like the ocean, with blanched almonds and citrus rinds."

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"I'm starting to crave something a little darker but I'm not ready to go in my full winter wines, and coat my mouth in tannins with something like a Cab Sav," says Barrington Steakhouse's sommelier Lesley Quinn of why she's all about Syrahs right now. Quinn recommends the 2012 Errazuriz Syrah, ($12/ glass, $60/bottle) from the Aconcagua region of Chile. "It has a beautiful, dark blueberry tone, but also has a really nice freshness to it. "

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"It's sort of been my personal mission to get people to try this one," says Eliot & Vine's manager Lorinda (Lola) Thomas of Guy Saget's Coteaux du Giennois 2014 Sauvignon Blanc ($11/5oz, $18/8oz)—which made her reconsider Sauvignon Blanc after a long love affair with Chardonnay. The fruit-forward wine's peachy aromas and acidity make it "beautifully balanced, and a lot more complex than a lot of Sauvignon Blancs I've had," she says. "It's like reconnecting with an old friend."

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Bishop's Cellar's Alanna McIntrye likes the Loire Valley's Logis de Bouchardiere Chinon ($22.50/bottle) with earthy mushroom dishes and roasted vegetables—perfect fall eating. "The palate is lively and fresh with the perfect combination of dried cherry fruit, savoury and woodsy flavours that remind me of a walk in the woods this time of year," she says. "Cabernet Franc is an incredibly food friendly grape thanks to its high acidity and medium tannins."

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"Ithink a lot of people are surprised to find Lebanon on a wine list," says Obladee's Heather Rankin of the rich 2012 Massaya Terrases de Baalbek ($13/glass). "There's a strong French influence in the Bekaa Valley—most of the grape varieties are French, as are most of the winemakers. Even the terroir has been compared to the Rhone Valley. I love the spicy, meaty nose on this wine. It's quite individual with chocolatey black currant fruit and a lovely savoury structure."

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Vol 25, No 8
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