Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,
Happy Holidays! As a Sommelier, this is my favorite time of the year. Everyone is looking for recommendations for stellar wines to pair with their Thanksgiving Day feast and festivities. Personally, this is my favorite holiday because I’m a wine geek and foodie at heart and this holiday truly encompasses those two passions of mine. I love traditional wines to pair, but I always like to think outside the box with several selections so this year can be as eclectic or as safe as you would like it to be. I am reviewing several wines from the same wineries in this post (which is rare for me) but I think they are deserving and perfect wines for pairing. My greatest “thanks” this Thanksgiving is having you all as customers and readers of my humble blog. Thank you and have a blessed holiday season!
Raymond Usseglio Chateauneuf Du Pape ‘Cuvee Girard’ Red Blend 2013
Rhone Valley, France
Cash Price $44.99
Rhone Valley wines are always a classic expression for Thanksgiving and Chateauneuf Du Pape is the king of the region. I actually recommended the previous vintage for Thanksgiving last year (It’s what I opened at my table) and am excited to offer the newest vintage of this wine because I like it even better than the last! This Grenache based wine is silky smooth from the start. Fresh fruit flavors of raspberry and red cherries burst into the palate with vivacity and undertones of black tea and red licorice. The tannins are medium and the acids are medium but the mid palate encompasses the core with a deliciously thick and round mouthfeel. Notes of roasted game and black pepper are prevalent under currents. The finish is spectacular with smidgeons of toasted oak, hazelnuts, vanilla and whiffs of bacon fat. This wine is exceedingly food friendly and a true ‘WOW’ wine for your feast. Wine Advocate scored this wine 90 points.
Expression 39 Anderson Creek Pinot Noir 2011
Anderson Valley, California
Cash Price $40.84
Anderson Valley is one of the true ‘Grand Cru’ regions for growing Pinot Noir in California. Located in Medocino, north of Napa Valley, this region is becoming a premier region for stunning expressions of Pinot Noir and Bill Hill is intent on offering some of the finest selections. Wine maker Patrick Mahaney is crafting brilliant Pinot’s from all over the west coast, but this is truly one of my favorites that he produces. Pinot Noir is, of course, a true classic pairing with Turkey. Supple flavors of red cherries and pomegranate envelope the palate with licks of wild red berries dancing melodically in the background. The wine has medium plus acidity and medium minus tannins. Although this wine is an elegant Pinot Noir, it does seem to have some brutish intensity that smacks the palate with deliciousness. Touches of rhubarb and cinnamon play into the finish with hints of walnuts, blueberry and wild red roses. This versatile Pinot is a succulent gem that will pair with ham or turkey.
Andre Clouet Grand Reserve Brut N/V
Cash Price $37.99
Andre Clouet is a Grand Cru Champagne producer from the region of Bouzy. Grand Cru Champagne is produced from only the finest vineyards in the region. Most of the BIG name producers that you buy from Champagne are NOT Grand Cru wines, but from many different sites throughout Champagne. They may be of good quality, but only Grand Cru vineyards give you the best expressions of bubbles. This Champagne exudes royalty from the first sup. Flavors of green apple and citrus explode on the palate with deliciously tight bubbles. Delightfully soft notes of bake apple pie and toasted Crème brulee flicker throughout the mid palate with a medley of fresh white flowers that sinew eloquently from start to finish. The backbone of this exquisite bubbly has a chalky Belemnite minerality racing through the core that finishes with smashingly clean and lip smacking acidity. This wine is impeccably made and one of my favorite sparklers in the world! Bubbles for Thanksgiving is ALWAYS a great idea!
Tamboerskloof Syrah 2010
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Cash Price $27.99
Tamboerskloof may be an outside the box pick for some, but for me it is a bulls eye for my Thankgiving feast. Kleinood winery consistently produces some of my favorite wines coming out of South Africa. In fact, this Syrah is one of my favorite expressions of the varietal period. I find Syrah to be amazingly versatile to pair with many foods and a dynamite pairing with herbs. This wine offers flavors of red and black currant with medium plus tannins and medium acids that sink into touches of plum and rhubarb. The tertiary flavors are what really drive this wine. Notes of roasted, cured meat and garrigue flow into a medley of spices with black pepper being most prevalent. The finish shows the 20 months of oak aging with smidgeons of roasted nuts, cinnamon, and vanilla bean that sit on the palate for a long, lingering mouth feel. This is a ‘MUST HAVE’ at your table this year!
Expression 38 Russian Camp Chardonnay 2013
Russian River Valley, California
Cash Price $19.94
Russian Camp is the newest addition to the Expression line produced by Bill Hill, who also founded William Hill and Van Duzer wineries. He is considered one of the best vineyard developers in the United States. The Russian River produces some of the most iconic Chardonnay in the United States and a darling region to Sommeliers world wide. The wine is 100% Chardonnay that goes through full malolactic fermentation and aged for twelve months on the lees in all French Oak barrels. Tropical flavors of pineapple and guava sink through the palate with a rich, creamy core that is encompassed with hazelnuts and brioche. Notes of freshly picked pear and green apple flow seamlessly throughout. This Chardonnay is able to keep nice acidity throughout due to the cool fog that flows through the Russian River daily making it perfect for this varietal. The finish is fresh and lush with hints of toasted oak and butter. Rich and Flavorful!
Castellani Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore Red Blend 2012
Cash Price $24.99
Castellani has been one of my favorite wineries since I visited them several years ago. Their wines fell off the market for a year or so, but I am extremely excited to be able to offer them to you again. Ripasso (baby Amarone) is a blend of several grapes that are passed over the dead lees of Amarone. This process Ripasso (passing over) gives the ensuing wine Amarone-esque flavors without actually going through the appassimento process. Thus the wines are more affordable, while giving intense complexity. Castellani shows flavors of seductive black cherries are encompassed by chocolate and truffles. Notes of raisinated fig and plum sink through medium tannins and acids. The finish offers kitchen spices with touches of cedar and vanilla bean. This is an amazingly expressive wine that will pair with the meat dishes on your table. 90 Points in Wine Spectator.
Pierre Labet ‘Old Vine’ Pinot Noir 2013
Cash Price $27.99
Pierre Labet is one of our more consistent value priced Pinot Noir’s in our portfolio. The grapes come from vieilles vignes (old vines) and are produced with a focus on organic and sustainable practices. The winery is located in Clos de Vougeot with Francois Labet at the helm. The 2013 vintage is showing beautifully right now. Bursting, ripe flavors of bing cherry and cranberry zing into medium plus acids and medium minus tannins. Notes of rose petals and raspberry are prevalent on the mid palate with touches of minerality and limestone on the backbone. The finish is clean and refreshing with touches of toasted oak, vanilla, and cinnamon. Burgundy is the purest red wine for pairing with turkey!
Guilbaud ‘Les Chenes Vieux’ Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Cash Price $18.99
Sauvignon Blanc is usually the best white wine pairing for turkey. The wines are typically clean, un-oaked with zesty acids and linear flavors. Sancerre produces my favorite expressions of the varietal in the world. The soil is dry and chalky Caillottes and Silex which really shows in the wines of this region. This 100% Sauvignon Blanc shows intense flavors of citrus lemon lime with touches of prickly pear. There is no grapefruit flavors in this wine. The acids are medium plus with zero tannins. The finish offers touches of chalky flint and crushed rocks with hints of white flowers and gooseberry. This wine is the ‘MUST HAVE’ White wine at your table this Thanksgiving!
Anticipation Red Blend 2013
Napa Valley, California
Cash Price $15.99
The 2013 vintage is shaping up to be an excellent vintage. This is evidence in the new vintage of Anticipation Red Blend. It is a silky smooth Merlot based wine that is sexy and sleek. Delicious flavors of red cherries and plum sink into a soft, velvet mid palate of red currant and chocolate covered cherries. The tannins are well integrated and the acids are easily lost in the luscious fruit. The finish is filled with licks of cedar, vanilla cream and hazelnuts which linger on the palate for a delightfully long time. This is your party hit for the holidays!
Signano Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2014
Cash Price $15.19
Vernaccia is one of the hidden gems that I love to shine during this time of the year. It is a deliciously versatile grape that I often akin to Sauvignon Blanc but with more expressive fruit flavors. San Gimignano was the 1st white DOCG in Italy with Vernaccia being the workhorse grape. It is easily one of the best expressions of white wine in Tuscany. The wine offers flavors of citrus lemon with a touch of tropical melon and green apple. The mid palate has medium acidity with notes of almond and just a whiff of salinity. The finish gives hints of white peach and white flowers. Be the wine geek at your table this year with this wine!
Tamboerskloof Rose of Syrah 2015
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Cash Price $10.99
This wine completely astounded me when I tried it earlier this week. As you all know, I am an avid Dry Rose fan and also a big lover of Syrah so the odds were in favor that I would enjoy this wine. The grapes for this Rose were picked specifically for it as opposed to saignee, which means higher quality in the bottle. Ripe flavors of wild strawberries and raspberries zing through the palate with medium acidity. The mid palate offers a touch of cream with red roses and fruit punch. A smidgeon of white pepper, freshly washed wild berries and tinges of red apple skins play throughout a thirst quenching finish. I LOVE THIS ROSE AND SO WILL YOU!
Pierre Archambault Chenin Blanc 2014
Cash Price $11.99
Chenin Blanc from Vouvray is one of my ‘go to’ whites for Thanksgiving. The wines are vinified slightly sweet, but with good acidity to give balance. Pierre Archambault has become a staple winery in my house (I LOVE Loire Valley wines) and this is one of my wife’s favorite wines. Deliciously un-oaked, this wine offers stone fruits with loads of lychee and apricot. The wine has licks of sweetness throughout but isn’t overly sweet by any means. The acidity is medium and has beautiful precision in the wine to balance the residual sugars. Loads of fresh meadow flowers and touches of minerality quaff through the mid palate. The finish is light and refreshing with hints of almond and citrus. Archambault is a wine that will surely be the monster hit with the pre meal festivities as it is a great aperitif!
Smythe & Renfield Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Marlborough, New Zealand
Cash Price $11.49
New Zealand wines have always been one of the biggest sellers for Thanksgiving. They are extremely approachable and cut cleanly through the dry white meats on the table. This 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough is a quintessential white at a great price point. Fermented in stainless steel vats and completely un-oaked, this wine offers flavors of grapefruit and gooseberry with zesty medium plus acidity. Tropical notes of guava and passion fruit play easily through the core with wafts of cactus juice and lime. Clean, zesty and a sure fire winner for Thanksgiving!
James C. Barlow
Certified Wine Educator