Sunday, November 24, 2013

Time for Turkey Friendly Wine

Thanksgiving is once again almost upon us. Our store will be filled with people looking for that perfect wine to go with their special holiday meal. Turkey, of course is at the forefront of most Thanksgiving dinners, so what do you choose to go with the beautifully browned bird?

For those white wine lovers, the wine must be able to stand up not only to the turkey, but to the myriad flavors that assault our taste buds at the holiday table. It is easy for the cranberry sauce, yams, dressing, three bean casserole, and gravy to overwhelm a wine. My first pick for the job is Gewurztraminer from Alsace. These spicy, aromatic wines are wonderful in this setting. Ziegler’s is very good at $13.99, but even better is Joseph Cattin Hatchbourg for $22.99 and if you want what I consider the very best, $26.99 will get you a bottle of Zind Humbrecht.

Riesling, with its touch of sweetness and its generous minerality, is another great choice for the occasion. Washington makes several that are great bargains. Chateau St. Michelle has been the gold standard, but Charles  Smith’s Kungfu Girl is rapidly overtaking it. They are in the $10 to $11 range. Germany is where Riesling rules and Dr Loosen’s Blue Slate from the Mosel ($20.99) and Donnehoff from Nahe ($24.99) are great examples of what heights the Germans can attain with this varietal. If you like your Rieslings drier, the Aussies make some good ones. Yalumba Y series is only about $11 and is wonderful.

The final white to consider is Chenin Blanc. Not any old Chenin Blnc, but vouvray from the Loire Valley in France. These wines have a beautiful acidity and minerality that work well with many foods and will offer much pleasure to your thanksgiving guests. Clos le Vigneau, at $19.99 is very good, Vigneau-Chevreau Cuvee Silex is  downright ridiculous at $21.99.

The red wine lover will have no problem finding a wonderful libation to make the meal truly memorable. The most common choice is Pinot Noir, its medium body, fragrant aromatics and cherry flavors mingling gracefully with the roasted fowl. I especially like those from Oregon. They have a little more minerality than California Pinots and are not quite so fruit forward. Halloran Estate Pinot Noir at $29.99 should be bought if you find it because it is outrageous. Foris, at $20, is a classic example of Oregon Pinot Noir. For a true bargain, try Llai Llai, from Chile. This is done in a Burgundian style and is remarkably good for $10.99.

Burgundy makes the best Pinot Noir in the world. Unfortunately to get a good one, $30 is about basement level. Bouvier’s En Montre Cul is a god one at this price point.  I had a glass of 2008 Domain Belleville Chambolle- Musigny that practically brought tears to my eyes from its magnificence. It’s not cheap at $55.99, but if you want to see what Pinot Noir is supposed to taste like, this one will give you the idea.

A great alternative to Pinot Noir is Beaujolais. I am NOT talking about Nouveau Beaujolais, that banana bubble gummy stuff released the third week of November every year.  What I mean is a good single village Beaujolais made from 100% Gamay, preferably from a grand cru. These are similar to burgundy, but are more vibrant. Clos de la Roilette Fleurie, at $16.99 is a very good one.

The other wine that I think is one of the best choices for this occasion is Cabernet Franc, particularly one from the Loire Valley in France. Most commonly known as one of the grapes used in Bordeaux, this grape can be awesome on its own. The nose has a characteristic herbaciousness that combines with nice berry fruit and round tannins. Medium in body and generous in acidity, this wine is a truly food friendly wine and together with turkey or other fowl it forms the proverbial “match made in heaven”. Bernard Baudry Chinon is a classic at $19.99. From the tiny nearby appellation of Samur is Domain Fillatreau Chateau Fouquet which is probably my favorite at only $16.99.

Now you have no excuses not to have the right wine to maximize your enjoyment of your holiday meal. Be safe and enjoy this special time. Happy Thanksgiving to all! 

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