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Wines for Thanksgiving and beyond

In our home we always make sure that we serve wines from North America on Thanksgiving Day. While quite a few new wines have arrived from around the world over the past year, here are a few from the USA.

Chehalem that translates from the language of the indigenous inhabitants of Oregon to “valley of flowers”, was founded in 1990 and today they have achieved B Corp status. This rigorous certification assesses companies to ensure that they “meet the highest standard of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability”.

The weather patterns in Oregon are ideal for pinot noir as it is the same distance north of the equator as Burgundy in France. Often, their wines are more costly than those from California as vines produce less fruit in this cooler climate. Our 2018 Chehalem Chemistry Pinot Noir is a very good value at $30 and you will note its deep glowing garnet colour that is followed by inviting aromatics of dark berries like boysenberry and black raspberry. Cranberry and tart cherry suggests that it would be ideal with the Thanksgiving turkey.

Critic James Suckling bestows a 91/100 rating as he writes: “Very attractive aromas of fresh violets, mixed berries and cherries here. The palate has a smooth, integrated feel with supple, smoothly honed tannins, casting a fresh stream of bright, cherry flavour.” (Stock #5830).

If I can find a bottle of 2017 Austin Hope Grenache in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where I will be on Thanksgiving Day, I may have to buy it as I am intrigued with the thought of having it with the bird. Anything that this winery produces in Paso Robles, California, is exceptional and here grenache - found in Spain and especially in Chateauneuf du Pape in France - ripens beautifully.

Aromas of dried cherries, rose petals and sweet strawberries build in character on the palate by blending with notes of anise, cardamom, and white pepper. It finishes with juicy red fruit and a touch of smoke. $62 (Stock #8026).

Chardonnay might be your choice and here is a rare chance that you will understand if I quote Jeb Dunnock: “[The] 2016 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay is a wine you don’t see very often (it’s only released via the mailing list), the 2016 chardonnay from the Pisoni Vineyard in the southern part of the Santa Lucia Highlands is year in, year out, one of the most impressive chardonnays coming out of California. Offering a Montrachet-like perfume of stone fruits, white flowers, toasted oak and obvious crushed rock-like minerality, this beauty is medium to full-bodied, crisp, vibrant, and fresh on the palate. Tight, backward, and only hinting at its ultimate potential, it will keep for a decade. 96+.” $89 (Stock #6125).

For $57 you could purchase a bottle of 2017 Pisoni Lucia Chardonnay that earned 92 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and this description: “A gregarious nose of baked red and Golden Delicious apples, banana peel, quince, and peach with notes of toast, smoke, hay, honey and lemon cream. Medium-bodied with intense tropical and stone fruit layers with honey-nut accents. Lovely!” (Stock #6126).

If you are stocking a cellar, having roast beef or lamb, or just want to enjoy glorious Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, then we recently obtained a small allocation of 2017 Louis M. Martini Lot No. 1 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. I tried for years to purchase a few cases, but there was never a drop to spare for export. This wine showcases standout blocks from iconic Napa Valley vineyards, resulting in a blend that exhibits power, depth and intensity with a discernible measure of polish and elegance.

The 2017 vintage opens with aromas of black currant, plum, incense and leather while the striking palate is filled with notes of dark fruit and black cherry with hints of toasted caramel in a plush mouthfeel. The exceptionally long finish evolves with layers of toasted oak while an unparalleled balance of fine tannins and acidity will allow this wine to age for decades. Reviews are quite similar with James Suckling awarding it 95/100, while the Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast rang in at 94/100. $200 (Stock #8695).

Another very limited arrival from Martini is their 2016 Louis M. Martini Monte Rosso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon that is a blend of 93 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 5 per cent cabernet franc and 2 per cent malbec. This was handcrafted from specifically chosen blocks on the historic Monte Rosso Vineyard, some of which are the oldest cabernet blocks in California. The wine unveils aromas of toasted coconut and cedar and decadent notes black cherry and macerated berries and long, silky tannins. The unmistakable Monte Rosso spice makes its presence known in the form of cloves, cinnamon, and sage.

Parker gives this 95+/100 and says: “The deep garnet-purple coloured 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Rosso Vineyard comes galloping out of the glass with notes of crème de cassis, warm plums, cast-iron pan and bouquet garni, plus touches of lavender and olives. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is chock-full of muscular fruit, framed by firm, grainy tannins, finishing with an herbal lift.” $155 (Stock #8696).

I will finish with one more cabernet sauvignon and it is the 2017 Beringer Knights Valley Reserve. Beringer Vineyards has owned and farmed its Knights Valley vineyards since the mid-1960s, when the Beringer family recognised that the cobbled, rocky alluvial soils were a great place to grow high quality wine grapes. The Knights Valley designation was first used on a Beringer label in 1974. Beringer was instrumental in garnering official recognition for the area in 1983 as a premier wine growing region with the award of its own American Viticulture Area (AVA) designation. My simple explanation of where to find it is “at the upper end of Sonoma Valley and Napa Valley”. This wine rates 93 points with James Suckling. $84 (Stock #6262).

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at mrobinson@bll.bm. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

Louis Martini, one of the oldest wineries in Napa Valley, California (Photograph supplied)

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Published November 19, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated November 18, 2021 at 1:16 pm)

Wines for Thanksgiving and beyond

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