James Barlow’s ‘Thanksgiving Day’ Wines for November 2016

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Holiday season is here!  As a wine geek, Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday.  Wine becomes an integral part of the ensuing feast, so one must carefully find the perfect pairing for the food on the table.  That is where I come in.  It is my job to make you look like a genius when you uncork the bottle for family.  I have chosen these selections with one thing in mind: To give you the best  possible wine for your gobble day.  Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Chateau Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape Red Blend 2013

Rhone Valley, France

Cash Price $56.99

Pegau is a highly acclaimed, organic producer in one of my favorite regions, the Rhone Valley.  Laurence Feraud is a brilliant wine maker that molds wines of massive structure, yet with an elegant mouth feel.  The wine is 80% Grenache with bits of Syrah and Mourvedre that are all hand picked. I have found Chateauneuf to be one of my favorite pairings for all things Thanksgiving and this Domaine is one of the finest in the region.  The vintage was ‘difficult’ in 2013, so the price has been kept down.  That said, great producers produce great wines no matter the vintage.  Pegau offers ripe flavors of red cherries and raspberry that is completely encompassed with tones of cured meat and dried leather.  Notes of tea leaf quaff through the mid palate with medium plus tannins and acids that round into whiffs of black pepper and plum.   The finish is plush with hints of licorice and sandalwood.  Only 2 cases available.  James Score: 95 Points

Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet Chardonnay 2011

Burgundy, France

Cash Price $57.94

Burgundy (white and red) is the region of the world that I gravitate towards when pairing for Thanksgiving.  The wines are beautifully balanced while offering dollops of fruit with refreshing acidity and minimal oak.  Purity is a good word for the wines of Burgundy.  This 100% Chardonnay is from one of the best regions on Earth to produce the varietal.  Chassagne Montrachet wines are more restrained that Meursault, which is perfect for fowl.  Gagnard offers succulent flavors of pear and green apples which flow melodically into whiffs of citrus lemon.  The mid palate shows a creamy core of complexity with white peaches, hazelnuts, and touches of butter.  The finish is divine with hints of limestone minerality that flows into butterscotch, roasted almonds and cedar.  James Score: 94 Points

Volker Eisele Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $49.99

The 2012 vintage was a richly concentrated year that gave supple ripeness which may turn out to be the highest quality of the decade.  This winery is one of the few in the Chiles Mountain AVA and is considered the gem of the region.  The Eisele vineyards is one of the best vineyards in all of Napa Valley and Certified Organic.  Volker Eisele is famed for making wines of unmistakable elegance and impeccable balance.  This gorgeously rich and balanced wine drinks amazingly from the first pop of the cork!  Flavors of Black currant and cassis lay into a bed of tobacco leaves and mocha.  The mid palate continues with dark fruits with blackberry that sink into definitive vanilla bean and French oak infusions.  The finish is long and balanced with silky texture and voluptuous tannins.  Volker is a wine that was obviously well taken care of from start to finish!  James Score: 94 Points

Panthea ‘Siren’ Pinot Noir 2012

Anderson Valley, California

Cash Price $31.99

Thanksgiving Day pairings almost inevitably will have Pinot Noir on the table.  It’s a perfect compliment.  Anderson Valley is producing the best Pinot Noir in California, in my opinion, and is a no brainer for pairing with the feast and fixings.  This Pinot Noir is a bit more hedonistic with higher alcohol and fruit screaming through the core of the wine.  The 2012 vintage was stunning in California and allowed for wineries to produce extremely ripe styles of wine from every region.  Anderson Valley is typically cooler with lower alcohol levels, so this wine is lighting in a bottle.  Sleek flavors of ripe bing cherry and candied framboise dance gracefully into medium acidity and medium tannins.  The mid palate offers cola and rhubarb with wild strawberries bursting into blueberry cobbler.  The finish  offers hints of graham cracker, cinnamon and clove with whiffs of vanilla cedar.  Made with Certified Organic grapes.  James Score: 93 Points

Efix Vermentino di Gallura Sparkling N/V

Sardinia, Italy

Cash Price $20.49

I do like to think outside the box on occasion with my selections to give the consumer something new to continue expanding the palates of Houstonians.  Efix is 100% Vermentino from the Island of Sardinia.  Vermentino is the noble white grape of this region as Vermentino di Gallura is the only DOCG on the Island.   Deliciously dry in style, this sparkler offers a citrus lemon zest on the palate with fine bubbles.  The wine is made Charmat style (same method of production as Prosecco), which gives it a youthful freshness but has an underlying tone of minerality that pierces through the core.  Hints of juicy peach and orange blossoms play on the mid palate with zesty acidity.  The finish offers licks of toasted brioche and warm sliced butter.  James Score: 91 Points

Hans Lang Dry Riesling 2013

Rheingau, Germany

Cash Price $25.64

I am extremely excited to be able to offer this high quality dry Riesling!  This wine comes from the Hattenheimer Schutzenhaus vineyards.  These vineyards are Erste Lage (considered 1st Growth) by the VDP, which is a group of producers that have banded together to produce higher quality wine that even the government mandates.  The Rheingau is considered one of the finest regions in the world to grow Riesling and many of their wines are dry.  Lang is a powerhouse of a wine.  Bursting flavors of lemon citrus and pineapple flow freely through medium plus acids.  The mid palate is mouth watering with notes of honey, wet rocks and touches of white pepper.  The finish is clean and offers tinges of bees wax and orange blossoms.  Spectacular!  James Score: 94 Points

Domaine Champy Pinot Noir 2011

Volnay, France

Cash Price $29.99

Pinot Noir is a classic pairing for Turkey, Especially the ones from Burgundy.  Volnay offers elegance and acidity while allowing the fruit to shine but not overpower.  The wines from this region are all about balance.  It is exceedingly hard to find Pinot Noir from Burgundy for under $50.  So when I found this gem, I jumped all over it!  Champy shows flavors of ripe red berries and raspberry with medium plus acidity.  Notes of red roses and violets quietly waft through the mid palate with minimal tannins.  Touches of black cherry sinew through the finish with bits of minerality and spice.  James Score: 92 Points

Blue Rock ‘Baby Blue’ Blanc 2015

Sonoma Coast, California

Cash Price $18.99

Blue Rock produces luxury wines on their 100 acres nestled in the hillsides of Alexander Valley.  Baby Blue Blanc is the first non estate wine that Blue Rock has produced.  The grapes come from the Fort Ross-Seaview and Russian River Valley AVA’s respectively.  This is their 1st adventure into producing white wine as they are well known for Cabernet Sauvignon.  They have absolutely knocked this wine out of the ball park with their first swing!  I was stunned at the complexity in the glass with this Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier blend.  This wine layers itself beautifully.  Flavors of crisp lemon citrus leap into the palate with medium acidity that is layered into a soft, round viscosity that coats the palate. Notes of apricot and peach seep into the mid palate with touches of Meyer lemon and hay.  The finish is stunning with a pop of Viognier that adds hints of wild flowers and bees wax.  Do me a favor and decant this white as it gets better and better with some time.  James Score: 93 Points

Tamboerskloof Rose of Syrah 2016

Stellenbosch, South Africa

Cash Price $14.99

Tamboerskloof may be an outside the box pick for some, but for me it is a bullseye for my Thankgiving feast.  Kleinood winery consistently produces some of my favorite wines coming out of South Africa.  In fact, this Syrah of Rose is one of my favorite Roses in our portfolio.  I find Syrah to be amazingly versatile to pair with many foods and a dynamite pairing with herbs.  When made into a Rose, it shows all the flavor but without the tannins.  This wine offers flavors of wild strawberries and bright red cherries.  The mid palate displays medium acidity with freshly picked red apples and cranberry tingling throughout. The tertiary flavors really drive this wine with notes of garrigue and white pepper.  The finish is deliciously clean with hints of wet slate and fruit punch.  James Score: 92 Points

Frey Sohler ‘Rittersberg’ Pinot Gris 2014

Alsace, France

Cash Price $19.94

Alsace produces some of the finest white wines in the entire world, yet they are often over looked.  The wines from this region are tailor made for pairing with fowl.  The granitic soil from Rittersberg give this 100% Pinot Gris a uniquely flavorful profile.  Pinot Gris from Alsace will offer smidgeons of residual sugar with a power bomb of fruit structure.  Fresh flavors of melon and pear flow graciously into medium acidity and licks of honeycomb.  The mid palate shows hints of beeswax and fresh meadow flowers that sinew melodically throughout the wine.  The finish gives citrus and orange blossoms.  Truly delightful mouth feel.  James Score: 91 Points

Sant’Agata Barbera D’Asti 2014

Asti, Italy

Cash Price $12.99

Barbera is a fruit salad grape that I love to pair with lighter foods.  This grape is meant for early and often consumption.  This varietal is the most widely planted red grape of Piedmont, but is often over looked due to the fame of Nebbiolo (Barolo).  Barbera is one of the more refreshing red grapes on the market.  This ‘baby’ is a fruit extravaganza.  Flavors of currant and blackberry meld into medium plus acidity and soft tannin structure.  Black cherries and wild red berries integrate easily through the mid palate with tinges of cocoa powder and spice.  The finish is clean, pure, and completely unoaked.  This wine ‘Pops’ from start to finish.  James Score: 89 Points

Chateau Lafite Rothschild Reserve Speciale Blanc 2015

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $12.99

Most everyone has a ‘go-to’ wine in their home for days that end with ‘Y’ or the one that you just know is going to be terrific every time you pop the cork.  This is ‘that’ white wine in my home.  It just so happens to be perfect for Gobble day as well!  The wine is a 55%/45% Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend that is completely unoaked. Flavors of citrus lemon lime zing through the palate with medium plus acidity.  The mid palate offers a soft creamy complexity with whiffs of white flowers and orange blossoms.  The finish is chalked full of minerality with tinges of crushed rocks.  I have found myself gravitating towards French Sauvignon Blanc for quite sometime now and this is a classic example of why it has occurred.  James Score: 90 Points

Dr. Pauly ‘Noble House’ Dornfelder Sweet Red 2015

Rheinhessen, Germany

Cash Price $9.99

The odds are there is a member of your family that will absolutely not drink dry wine, but would still like a glass…or two.  Fear not!  Dornfelder is perfect with turkey and offers touches of sweetness throughout the core of the wine.  The wine has low tannins and just a hint of sweetness that will keep your family member happy while still being deliciously quaffable for the rest of the family as well.  Dr. Pauly offers red cherries and raspberries with lively acidity that melds easily with the juicy fruit character of the wine.  This wine is unpretentious, yet still has plenty of character.  This is a great wine to open for the pre feast activities because of its low alcohol content and slurpability!  James Score: 88 Points

Thank You,

James C. Barlow

Certified Wine Educator

Certified Sommelier


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s