Happy Thanksgiving! So as we can all get down to advanced gustatory indulgences as quickly as possible, I figured I’d just quickly share with you what wines I’ve purchased or dug out of my cellar to enjoy with friends and family this holiday.
1. 2011 Louis Tete Beaujolais Nouveau. Okay, call me a hypocrite if you’d like, but a good simple Nouveau like this one goes well with turkey and trimmings which, incidentally, is the title of James Suckling’s autobiography.
2. 2007 White Cottage Ranch “Risa” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Perhaps my favorite Napa Cab (dubious company, I know), it’s made from biodynamically grown estate Howell Mountain fruit (with about 20% valley floor fruit blended in). The Risa is earthy and well-balanced and clocks in at a restrained 14.1% ABV. It’s that rare beast, the food-friendly premium Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.
3. 2009 Bott Tokaji Harslevelu. This dry Hungarian Tokaji I’ve been “cellaring” for about a year now expressly for Thanksgiving. Curious to see how it has evolved (I’ve got two more bottles I’m keeping for several more years down the line). It has the characteristics I look for in a white wine for Thanksgiving dinner–full bodied without being toasty or buttery. It’s rich with stone fruit flavors, honey and a little smokey petrol (it’s a good thing, I promise). I don’t think there’s any more of this on the market, but ask for a dry Hungarian white wine at any boutique wine shop for something similar.
4. 1998 Monte Real “Gran Reserva” Rioja 1998. Unquestionably the best value in quality aged red wines, Gran Reservas from Spain’s Rioja region don’t even reach the market without at least two years of barrel age and three more years of bottle age and, in practice, most producers hold their wines back much longer. Traditionally-made Riojas (look for ones with ornate, old-skool labels) are great, fuller-bodied options for family dinners, full of lots of bright cherry fruit balanced with forest-floor funk and gamey aromas. 1998 wasn’t a banner year in Rioja, so these wines are at their best right now.
5. 2008 Paulo Laureano Reserve Branco, Alentejo, Portugal. Though I tend to dislike white wines with significant oak aging, when higher acid white grapes are aged in old and neutral oak, it can go a long way toward tempering the acidity and adding richness to the wine–and that richness is key to a white wine going well with heartier foods. Similarly-styled white wines include certain white Burgundies, white Riojas and, increasingly, Chardonnays from California.
So that’s what I’ll be drinking today. What about you?
(Disclosure: I have sold several of these wines before and I currently sell the Monte Real Gran Reserva.)