It seems like so many people I know serve the same wines with Thanksgiving every year. When I dine with friends or see pictures from Thanksgiving tables, Chardonnay seems to be the overwhelming white wine choice. While I do enjoy a well-made Chardonnay, most people opt for a bottle that overwhelms the meal with oak, butter, and alcohol. I recently tasted through almost a dozen white wines (tough job, I know) and came up with a few favorites for your Thanksgiving meal!
Riesling is one of the most food-friendly wines and is a great pairing with many Thanksgiving dishes. I recently tasted 2013 Famille Hugel Riesling and discovered it’s not only delicious, but it’s also a killer value at $12. This dry Riesling from the Alsace region of France is filled with tastes of lemon and orange blossom along with naturally bright acidity and hints of minerality. Pair with everything from yams to mashed potatoes to turkey & stuffing! ($12)
One tradition we keep at our Thanksgiving table is making sure there is a place for seafood. Oysters and Dungeness Crab always seem to work their way into our meal. Dry Chenin Blanc is one of my favorite pairings with shellfish. Chenin Blanc is made in many styles so look for a bottle that has nice acid and texture. One bottle that recently grabbed my attention is 2014 Lo-Fi Chenin Blanc from the Jurassic Park vineyard in Santa Barbara County. With bright citrus, stone fruit, and a rich mouthfeel, this wine is a great match for shellfish! ($26)
White Rhone Blends
If you come to our house for Thanksgiving, you will always find a White Rhone Blend poured with your meal. One of my favorite domestic bottles is 2013 Two Shepherds Pastoral Blanc, a blend of 50% Roussanne, 25% Marsanne, 13% Viognier, 6% Grenache Blanc, and 6% Grenache Gris from the Russian River Valley. The wine is beautifully balanced and bright with incredible texture. It will really brighten up heavy dishes and is a staple at our Thanksgiving table. ($30)
I drink a lot of Grenache yet it is often hard to find a well-made, reasonably priced bottle. That is why I was pretty impressed when I stumbled across a bottle of Domaine La Manarine Cotes du Rhone. Domaine La Manarine is a small, family-owned winery established in 2001. The grapes for this Cotes du Rhone Rouge hail from Southern Rhone and the vines average around 35 years in age. This naturally made wine is 100% Grenache and I have actually seen several bottles in retail shops across Southern California.
Domaine La Manarine Cotes du Rhone Rouge immediately grabs your palate’s attention with lots of spice. As the wine opens up, notes of red and dark berries begin to appear and the palate smooths out. The result is a rich and robust wine, balanced with healthy acidity. Not super complex but definitely enjoyable. Think grilled meats with this Grenache! (14% alcohol, $13)
If you are coming over for dinner or to watch a football game at our house, you can pretty much bet on enjoying a charcuterie plate. I love to swing by Belcampo Meat Co. and pick up some delicious meats for guests to feast upon. When it comes to wine pairing, I often uncork a bottle of cool climate Syrah. One of my favorites for under $20 is Yves Cuilleron Les Vignes d’à Côté Syrah. The naturally made wine from Northern Rhone is an excellent companion for charcuterie!
The nose of Yves Cuilleron Les Vignes d’à Côté Syrah offers aromas of pepper, savory herbs, and red & dark fruit. The palate is not overly complex but it delivers with notes of violets, black currants, plums, pepper, and smoked meat. Bright, savory, and delicious…definitely give this bottle a little bit of time to open up! (12%, alcohol, $18)
It’s definitely still BBQ season in SoCal (isn’t it always?), so Brandon and I are throwing burgers on the grill for a quick mid-week meal pretty regularly. As for the wine to pair…Les Terrasses d’Eole Ventoux Rouge is an easy pick! For under $11, the blend of Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah from the Rhone Valley is an impressive value.
The nose of Les Terrasses d’Eole Ventoux Rouge has aromas of ripe, red fruit along with herbs and spices. The palate is packed full of rich fruit, savory herbs, and licorice. Definitely not shy as far as alcohol is concerned but the wine maintains balance and an old world style. Simple, satisfying, and great with grilled meats! (14% alcohol, $11).
Every year, I pick up at least a case of Kermit Lynch Côtes du Rhône. The blend of Rhone grapes vary from year to year (generally Grenache with Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre) but the outcome is always the same…a darn good wine that you can easily score for far less than a $20. The wine is fermented with natural yeasts in temperature-controlled, cement tanks. It is then aged in cement tanks and bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Kermit Lynch Côtes du Rhône 2013 definitely fits the mold for the quality I have come to expect from this wine. The approachable palate is fruit forward with ripe notes of red fruit and spice. There are also hints of earth that help balance out the sweetness of the fruit. Simple and to the point…but that’s quite alright for $11. A great midweek find!
Want a rich and delicious Rhone blend to pair with your summer BBQ for under $12? If so, look no farther than Les Terrasses d’Eole 2012 Ventoux. Domaine Terrasses d’Eole is located in the heart of Provence, along the path of the Tour de France. The family run winery produces some excellent values, with Les Terrasses d’Eole Ventoux being one of them.
A blend of Grenache and Syrah from the Ventoux region on Rhone. 14.5% alcohol. Retails for around $11.
Pouring an inky, dark purple in the glass, Les Terrasses d’Eole 2012 Ventoux begins with aromas of dark fruit, violets, and minerals. The palate is rich with indulgent flavors of blackberries, violets, and anise. The palate also offers earthy undertones that balance the ripeness of the fruit. Smooth, fruit-forward, and full of flavor! Pair with roasted duck or grilled beef.
As I am always on the hunt for a new Grenache, I excitedly picked up a bottle of 2011 Les Vigneaux Grenache while I was perusing the aisles of a local wine shop. Les Vigneaux is an organically farmed winery in the French village of Ardèche. Their minimalist wine making philosophies have produced a unique wine that has a really nice sense of place. The 2011 Grenache is made with native yeasts, unfined, unfiltered, and has 13.5% alcohol.
Musty aromas of earth and anise come from the glass. The palate is surprisingly complex for the price. There are notes of licorice, forest floor, red fruit, and plenty of acidity. A really enjoyable Grenache that drinks like it costs far more than $15 a bottle!
My Wine Rating – A-
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with braised lamb, chicken with roasted carrots and potatoes, or grilled duck breast.
For the past couple of vintages, I have been a big fan of Kermit Lynch’s Cypress Cuvee (review – http://wp.me/p1vdhr-17T), which is a delicious red Rhone blend. Over the weekend, I uncorked his 2011 white Rhone blend made by Louis Barruol, the “Sunflower Cuvee”, and was easily won over by its clean, beautiful palate. It is definitely the style of white Rhone I gravitate toward with its blend of Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Picpoul.
This blend has a beautiful, floral nose that awakens your senses. The palate has tastes of melon, citrus and pear with some hints of spice and minerality. There is a nice depth of flavor and the finish lingers as I wish the bottle would have! ($18)
My Wine Rating – A-
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with lobster, curries, or oysters.
Looking for a bottle priced perfectly to buy by the case and drink any night of the week? My latest find, 2010 Domaine de Saint Antoine Syrah, really fits the bill. A Syrah from Rhone that is ripe, unfiltered and bursting with flavor!
This Rhone offers a very earthy nose with notes dark berries and tobacco. The palate is rich, brawny and full of fruit. There are tastes of cherries, cassis, blackberries, earth and pepper. Uncomplicated yet delicious. Skip the Trader Joe’s $10 wine selection and upgrade your table wine to this bottle! (13.5% alcohol, $11)
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with grilled meats (perfect for a BBQ), pizza or pappardelle with meat sauce.
While I was exploring the new Total Wine & More in Laguna Hills, I found myself in the Rhone section (this was probably not a coincidence 🙂 ). I picked up a bottle of Chateau De Nages 2010 Réserve Red Rhone Wine for $8.99. It is a Rhone blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah from the Costiéres De Nîmes appellation of France.
It pours an intense violet color in the glass. Aromas of dark berries and anise are supported with lush tastes of dark fruit, black pepper, and leather. A juicy, indulgent wine with a spicy finish that lingers long after each sip. A great value from one of my favorite regions! (B+, 14%)