Before I take a few days off from reality and spend them amongst the vines with family and friends, I want to take a minute and wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving! I have so much to be thankful for this year and I am really excited to take a few days to reflect over the incredible blessings in my life! I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday feast surrounded by family, friends, and great wine!
If you follow natural California winemakers at all, you will most likely have heard the buzz about Dirty and Rowdy. The wine is pretty hard to get your hands on so I make sure to pick up a bottle any time I am lucky enough to stumble upon one. Over the weekend, I found their newly released 2012 Mourvèdre at Bar and Garden in Culver City. Brandon and I uncorked it as soon as we got home and were pretty stoked with what we tasted!
100% Mourvèdre from the Santa Barbara Highlands. 100% whole cluster fermentation. Unfined, unfiltered, with native yeasts and minimal sulfur added. 11.4% alcohol. $34/bottle.
Beautifully aromatic red fruit on the nose. The palate is fruit driven and incredibly pure. Elegant tastes of strawberry and spice with healthy acidity and a bit of a tart citrus in the finish. This is definitely not what you would expect from a California Mourvèdre; it actually drinks more like a Beaujolais. Beautiful and elegant…I will be picking up another bottle soon!
(This wine is super young so please be patient in opening it (like as in waiting a couple of years). If you must open it immediately (as I did), let it decant for a good hour.)
If there is one culinary date I look forward to every year, it is the start of Dungeness Crab season. Here is Southern California, we are so lucky to get fresh Dungeness from both Santa Barbara and the Sonoma Coast. Brandon and I eat it almost every weekend and have a lot of fun finding our favorite wines to go with it.
Pinot Gris can be a great match with Dungeness. I recently sipped a bottle of 2012 Brooks Pinot Gris from Oregon and I immediately wished I was drinking it with crab. The wine is whole cluster pressed and aged in stainless steel. It features bright tastes of citrus and guava along with great texture and fresh acidity. A fantastic match with Dungeness Crab along with pretty much any other shellfish!
We all tend to sip the same types of wines at our Thanksgiving dinners. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Champagne seem to be abundant this time of year and a lot of people never really think about introducing a few new bottles to the table. This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to stray from the traditional pairings and open up your meal to new varietals. There are many interesting Rhone wines that will really elevate the flavors in your holiday dishes. Here are the Rhones that will definitely be accompanying our Thanksgiving dinner this year!
Old-World Style Grenache
I love an elegant Grenache with so many Thanksgiving dishes. It pairs very well with turkey, cranberries, and stuffing. Look for a bottle with low alcohol, healthy acidity, and ripe berries. A Tribute to Grace Grenache is an excellent choice with beautiful flavors that are both balanced and vibrant. (http://gracewinecompany.com, $44)
White Rhone Blends
When many people think of pairing wine with dishes such as buttery mashed potatoes and turkey, they often reach for a rich, buttery Chardonnay. Sometimes, an equally rich wine really overpowers both your palate and the food. I usually pair a White Rhone Blend instead. Make sure the wine has plenty of acid to cut through the richness of the food yet enough texture to complement the rich flavors. I really enjoy Pastoral Blanc from Two Shepherds. The blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, and Grenache Blanc will really bring to life (and not weigh down) heavier dishes. (http://twoshepherdsvineyards.com, $28)
Rosé of Syrah
Rosé of Syrah can be an excellent, food-friendly Thanksgiving wine. It pairs well with ham, turkey, and cranberries and also makes an excellent aperitif. I prefer a Rosé aged in stainless steel to oak as I find they tend to have cleaner flavors. Ampelos Cellars has a great Rosé of Syrah you can pick up for well under $20. Full of red berries, watermelon, and a refreshing finish makes it a nice Thanksgiving pick! (http://www.ampeloscellars.com, $15)
In just a short time, we will all be gathered around the table feasting on my favorite meal of the year, Thanksgiving. In my family, we happen to have a wonderful tradition of spending Thanksgiving in Napa or Sonoma…just one of the many things I am thankful for each year. No matter where your Thanksgiving plans takes you, here are some excellent wine pairings for your turkey day!
Rosé and Turkey
Rosé is an excellent match with turkey and most of the traditional Thanksgiving spread. Look for a Rosé that features dry flavors of cranberry or cherry and a little spice. I recently sipped a bottle from Chateau Bonnet. The 2012 Rosé is a blend of Cabernet and Merlot with bright tastes of cranberry and grapefruit. Beautiful acidity makes it extremely food friendly and a great choice for your entire meal. ($15)
Grüner Veltliner and Ham
Looking for a wine that enhances the flavor of your juicy ham? I would reach for a bottle of Grüner Veltliner. The lively acidity in Grüner cuts the fat in the ham and helps bring the flavors to a whole new level. One bottle that works really well is Birgit Eichinger 2011 Grüner Veltliner. It features crisp acidity and plenty of flavor to stand up to any Thanksgiving feast! ($15)
Tawny Port and Pumpkin Pie
For me, dessert can be one of the trickiest wine pairings of any meal. Generally, a lot of wines don’t work well with sweet flavors. So, when our dessert course comes around, I generally reach for a beautiful glass of Tawny Port. Look for a bottle with a balance of sweetness and spice to pair with the sweet and spicy flavors in pumpkin pie. If you want something a little lighter, opt for one of my favorite ports for under $20, Quinta do Infantado Medium-Dry Tawny Port NV. If you want something a little sweeter (and relatively easy to find), grab a bottle of Churchills 10 Year Old Tawny Port ($30). Either way, both of these picks will make dessert a great finale to a delicious meal!
Domaine Lafage Bastide Miraflors Vieilles Vignes is a blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. As I have mentioned before, there are some awesome values coming out of this area due to the depressed economy in the region. This wine caught my eye and I had to grab a couple of bottles.
The wine starts with aromas of dark berries and hints of earth. Rich tastes of berries and spice with mineral undertones are complex enough to keep your mouth entertained sip after sip. A little hefty on the alcohol (14.5%) but not hot on the palate. Such an enjoyable everyday wine at a price point of around $13!