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Wines to pair with tomorrow's turkey dinner

One could be forgiven for thinking that they are staring at a Mayan pyramid when they see the Catena family winery in Mendoza, Argentina (Photograph supplied)

I would like to narrow the wine selection down to three types to have with roast turkey: champagne, chardonnay and pinot noir.

The house of Piper-Heidsieck has cropped up a few times in my forty-five years in the trade and very recently Burrows Lightbourn has bought in wines from this historic firm.

Florens Louis Heidsieck left his native Germany and established Heidsieck & Cie in 1785 as he wanted to elevate “the wine that smiles”. He presented his very first champagne cuvee (blend) to Marie Antoinette who declared “love at first sip”. Later, Henri Piper joined this venture in the city of Reims. The acidity and tiny palate cleansing bubbles in champagne truly make it a wine that pairs with most foods – from soup to nuts, as the saying goes.

Piper-Heidsieck Brut Non-Vintage represents the epitome of their style: a classic, well-structured, and fruit-forward champagne. Piper-Heidsieck carefully selects fruit from more than 100 of Champagne’s crus (a vineyard or a village) for this blend. This adds great complexity and dimension to the wine and allows the bold Piper-Heidsieck style to shine through. A majority blend of pinot noir provides structure to the composition while pinot meunier expands the wine with its brilliant fruit expression and fleshiness and chardonnay brings elegant tones and acidity. Older and precious reserve wines are added to create a consistent flavour profile.

Notes of almond and fresh hazelnut accompany the precise ascent of its bubbles. It is lively, subtle and light, leaving a deliciously incisive sensation of smoothness, marked by the pureness of fresh pear and apple and a delicate hint of citrus fruits. The Wine Spectator listed it among their top 100 wines for 2019. $66.50 (Stock #7050)

Piper-Heidsieck Rosé Sauvage Brut, meaning wild rose in French, is not your typical rosé champagne as it has a very high proportion of pinot noir that results in a bold, deep-hued wine that is full bodied and yet distinctly elegant. It is guaranteed to delight your senses. $79.85 (Stock #7061)

My stock answer when asked to recommend a good champagne is that they are all good, but some are “more good” than others. It would be difficult to find one better than 2006 Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Rare Brut as it rates 97+ from critic Jeb Dunnuck who writes: “Their flagship release is the 2006 Champagne Rare, a 70/30 split of chardonnay and pinot noir that’s a cellar selection from eight different Grand Cru vineyards. Tight, backward, and straight-up structured, it offers brilliant notes of stone fruits, toasted brioche, white flowers, and obvious minerality. Needing plenty of air to show at its best, this beauty has a wonderful mid-palate, a racy mousse, and the balance and class to cruise for over two decades in cool cellars."

The Wine Spectator counters with “aromas and flavours of toasted brioche and grilled nut enrich the yellow plum, nectarine and grated ginger notes of this rich and creamy champagne. Finely woven and beautifully integrated, with a firm backbone of mouth-watering acidity providing precise balance for the lush range of flavour. 96/100.” $220 (Stock #7060)

As I write this on Monday, I am not sure if our Christmas dinner will consist of two, four or six at the table due to this most unfortunate Covid situation, but I would like to compare New and Old World wines.

Our 2018 Catena Alta Historic Rows Chardonnay is an Argentinian example of opulence and richness with tight acidity that together bind buttery croissants, juicy peach, pear, apricot, jasmine, cream, wildflowers and a touch of smoky oak with a twist of citrus – yum. 94/100 from James Suckling and 93+ from Parker’s Wine Advocate. $34.70 (Stock #6172)

At almost the same price we compare 2018 Joseph Drouhin Pouilly-Fuissé at $36.15, but of course it is the youngest as the northern hemisphere is a season behind Argentina. Together the villages of Pouilly and Fuissé give us one of the most popular examples of chardonnay from its birthplace in the Burgundy region of France. Lemon-gold in colour with flinty limestone, crushed almonds flowers, lemon zest, butter and vanilla. I confess that we “cheated” and had our Christmas bottle with lobster last evening, but it was a good start to this special week. (Stock #8163)

Now for two pinot noirs from the 2016 vintage and both from producers that are heavily into biodynamic farming. Our 2016 Robert Sinskey Carneros Pinot Noir is from a Demeter-certified winery in Napa Valley. Sheep and chickens “mow the grass” and the tractors smell of French fries as they burn recycled cooking oil. Pomegranate, Bing cherry, cranberry (we are thinking turkey) and raspberry seamlessly join with violet and rose, forest herbs, cinnamon, and cardamom. $59 (Stock #6375)

Now to an area where vines were first planted in 630AD. Véronique Boss-Drouhin describes her 2016 Joseph Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin as “bright ruby in colour, intensely fruity on the nose with aromas of black cherry, wild blackberry and liquorice”. Burgundy critic John Gilman writes, “Maison Drouhin’s 2016 Gevrey AC bottling is excellent, offering up that superb combination of sappy fruit and great minerality that are the hallmarks of the best wines of the vintage. The bouquet wafts from the glass in a fine blend of red and black cherries, grilled meats, mustard seed, dark soil tones, woodsmoke and a deft framing of cedary wood. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, pure and very transparent in personality, with a good core of fruit, modest tannins and lovely length and grip on the poised and well-balanced finish.” $67.60 (Stock #8196)

As climate change warms the historic vineyards of Europe and the New World is learning to tame their enthusiastic climates, I always find it interesting to compare the two – not to compete, but to just learn and appreciate the differences. Best wishes for a very good Christmas during such challenging times.

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

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Published December 24, 2021 at 8:19 am (Updated December 24, 2021 at 8:19 am)

Wines to pair with tomorrow's turkey dinner

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