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Thanksgiving Wine Suggestions

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The thing about the Thanksgiving meal is that it has quite a range of flavors and tastes, from sweet to savory, but most elements are not particularly heavy. Consequently, you should choose a wine with a similar body, not one that will overwhelm the food– after all, someone or someones spend a lot of time making that good fare. The following suggestions have sufficient body to hold up to food, but don’t have the weight or tannins to overwhelm meats and foods like turkey and mashed potatoes. We always start with sparkling for any event involving friends and food, so we begin our recommendations with a couple of bubbly options.

Mallo, Cremant d’Alsace, Special Delivery, France — Organic
We have started several celebratory occasions with this wine and are never disappointed. It sets the tone with its beautiful bead of bubbles and its gorgeous aromas of citrus, spice and minerals. A blend of Auxerrois and Pinot Blanc, this wine will be both a lovely start and a nice accompaniment to the salad.

Aubry, Brut Rose, Champagne (Premier Cru)
The first word that appears in my notes for this wine is “yummy.” A beautiful salmon color with aromas of nectarine and, I wrote, ” a bowl of fresh fruit.” This wine is definitely an extravagance, so enjoy it sparingly– good friends, dear family, memorable times. My mother’s 85th birthday is next week, and this wine is marking that wonderful occasion. I hope that I can bring it in multiples to her 90th.

Frog’s Leap, Napa, 2006— Organic
Within our recommendations, we have American wines, which seems appropriate for this most American holiday. Frog’s Leap is one of the early organic wineries that, coincidentally, makes delicious wines. Aromas of white peach, grapefruit and honeysuckle with a soft but fresh mouth and flavors of lemongrass, yellow peach and orange.

Heidi Schrock, Weissburgunder, 2007, Austria
Heidi Schrock makes gorgeous wines. We have her Furmint, which is floral, rich and elegant (and slightly reminiscent of Loire Chenin Blanc, which is represented by the Savennieres below). Weissburgunder is Austria’s long name for Pinot Blanc, and true to form, this one follows that Pinot Blanc path of having aromas that generate entirely different expectations than the palate delivers. Yeast, lime zest and a bit of sage on the nose, medium-bodied with a range of clean, refreshing flavors including apple, caraway and lemon.

Willakenzie, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley
This was a favorite white at a recent tasting. A delicious example of Oregon’s premier white grape– Pinot Gris (Grigio in Italy). Yellow peaches with a drizzle of honey and, having just returned from France and Italy, let me specify acacia honey. Medium to full-bodied, rich and dense. Layers of white peaches and spiced apples are found in this glass and linger on a long, fruit-driven finish.

Clos des Perrieres, Savennieres, 2005
Wow-this is one delicious wine! Even the red drinkers among us should appreciate the great fresh aromas and complexity of this wine. Fresh lemons, but also a wonderful chalky aroma with a touch of celery, then buttered toast. In the mouth, round, rich, and yet remarkably fresh, with Lemonheads and quince flavors that carry through to the long, compelling finish.

Louis Jadot, Moulin-A-Vent, Beaujolais, 2005
Bright raspberry and pomegranate fruit gradually give way to reveal a deep, marrow-like meatiness typical not just for Jadot’s but for other of the best renditions of this appellation. An aura of resinous oak and (for Beaujolais) unexpected tannin clings to the sappy, bright fruit and a saline streak in the finish adds to the refreshment that is doled out even as this wine stakes its claim to seriousness. (note from Wine Advocate)

Hilberg-Pasquero, Vareij, Piemonte — Organic
We fell in love with this wine all over again when we visited Hillberg just last week and met Annette Hilberg and Michele Pasquero. Michele, the winemaker, took us through his vineyards showing us the different soils and vineyard orientations, then we went into their cellar to taste the wines he and Annette make. The Vareij is a traditional table wine of the Roerero, using Brachetto and Barbera, grapes indigenous to the area. Aromas of rose petal and wild strawberries, it is an aromatic wine with a medium-body, low tannins, and lovely finish of roses and fruit.

MacMurray Ranch, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 2006— Sustainable
The MacMurrays, as in Fred, made a deal to allow vineyards in their prime Somona Coast area in exchange for preserving most of their land for conservation. The cooler, foggier climate (compared to Napa) is much more sympathico with what Pinot grapes experience in Burgundy. Within the classic Russian River Valley, the wine shows aromas of forest floor and dark berries, yet is not so full or tannic that it does not belong at the Thanksgiving table. A more restrained California Pinot Noir.

Paolo Scavino, Vino da Tavola, Piedmont, 2007
Nebbiolo 40%,Barbera 25%, Dolcetto, 25%, Cabernet Sauvignon 10%
This was also a favorite of our wine group that meets monthly. I was looking for a wine with sufficient heft to satisfy those in our group who so strongly prefer reds, but a wine that could make an appearance at the Thanksgiving table without stealing the show. I think we found it with the Scavino Rosso. The following note Deep ruby-red color with a nose of currant, bitter cherry, mocha, pepper, and smoke. A Concentrated flavor of red berries and black pepper good acidity. ripe finish, smooth tannins and very good persistence. Serving suggestions: Roasted game with dark berry sauces, Roasted red meats, Medium-aged cheeses. (Note from Wine Advocate)