Grape expectations: gold for Thanksgiving
I say it every year at this time, but the rule in our house is to always serve wines from the USA on this holiday that is followed quite closely by Bermudian households with close connections to our large neighbour.
Here are a few recommendations that have all been rated above 90/100, or gold medal territory:
Robert Sinskey Vineyards writes of their 93/100 cabernet franc being compared with a French Citroën from the early 1960s; misunderstood, quirky, unreliable, but a good one was smooth and elegant, maybe one of the best cars in the world.
Today I cannot help but be reminded of the summer of 1962 when assassins shot out all four tyres on the one that was carrying Charles de Gaulle.
The driver merely pumped up the suspension and sped away from a hail of 140 bullets.
Cabernet franc needs a long, cool growing season like the Right Bank of Bordeaux, the Loire Valley and the upper Carneros District in Napa Valley where Sinskey's Vandal Vineyard is situated.
If the climate is too warm, the sugar fully develops before flavour and the result is the taste of green beans and too much alcohol; too cool and the wine can be acidic, lean and funky.
As scientists say today of possible habitable planets, you have to be in the “Goldilocks Zone” and, like her porridge, not too hot and not too cold, but just right.
Robert Sinskey's 2012 cabernet franc Vandal Vineyard benefits from the pureness of his biodynamic farming and it is a thrill to experience the grace and structure of such a great vintage.
Aromas and flavours of mulberries, blueberries and violets are backed by leather and peat.
The tannins are youthful with fine mouth-feel, but decanting will reveal a hidden gem.
I would suggest Colorado lamb or the finest American steak. $63.70 a bottle.
A wine that rates 93/100 is our 2012 Foxen John Sebastiano Vineyard pinot noir from the Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara county.
I often mention the complexity of over 1,000 pinot noir clones to chose from and to give you an idea of what the vineyard owner has to contend with. This wine is 38 per cent wadensvil 2A, 42 per cent Dijon 115 and 20 per cent Dijon 667.
These are selected to work best with the “terroir” which is a unique sense of place created by soil and weather conditions.
It has a powerful brooding nose of black cardamom and crushed clove that melds with pomegranate and cherry and other dark red and black-stone fruits.
The flavours of sour cherry, mocha and cloves end with a finish that is rich, broad and creamy.
I would suggest that a quite perfect match would be roast turkey. $61.35.
One of the most consistent white wines of each vintage is our Beringer Private Reserve chardonnay and their 2012 is no exception with a Wine Spectator score of 93/100.
In fact, in all the years of publishing their annual list of the top 100 wines in the world, only one winemaker, Ed Sbragia when he was at Beringer, has had both a red and a white wine in the number one position.
They were the private reserve chardonnay one year and the private reserve cabernet sauvignon in another. After 25 years of Ed, followed by quite a few more now with Laurie Hook, it was exciting to meet a young Beringer at the New York Wine Experience last month and he is now involved with the winemaking in this historic (1876) winery.
The 2012 private reserve chardonnay is primarily sourced from their Gamble Ranch property in the highly reputed Oakville AVA of Napa Valley. Laurie says of this vintage: “Aromas of hazelnut and grilled pineapple are followed by flavours of lush, tropical fruits, balanced by a hint of citrus.
A rich, creamy mouth-feel is rounded out by a lengthy, elegant finish.”
Wine Spectator wrote: “Shows off seductive notes of smoky toasted oak and cream with fresh, rich, vibrant fruit to match.
The flavours of poached pear, fig, honeydew melon, spice and black liquorice all fold together on a long, pure, persistent finish. Drink now until 2020.”
Needless to say this would be wonderful with roast turkey. $43.20.
This column is a paid-for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George's (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits is available online at www.wineonline.bm.