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Wines for Thanksgiving

Theresa Heredia, the winemaker for the Gary Farrell winery in the Russian River Valley (Photograph supplied)

There is such a range of wines that can go well with a turkey dinner – a well-aged bordeaux, a barolo, a chateauneuf du pape or a beaujolais cru.

In our home on American Thanksgiving we only have one option and that is wine from the United States of America. From this it is a no-brainer to top the list with chardonnay and pinot noir and, fortunately, we have quite a few new arrivals added to our list that are appropriate. Here are some that you may like to pair with the bird.

Back in 1982, before the Russian River Valley in Sonoma had even been established as an AVA (American Viticultural Area), Gary Farrell crafted his first pinot noir in this cool location that is often referred to as “the Burgundy of the West” because it is ideal for growing pinot noir and chardonnay.

The Farrell winemaker today is Theresa Heredia, who is a specialist in pinot noir and chardonnay. Even in this progressive New World state of California, only 14 per cent of lead winemakers are women. She has worked for top producers in Burgundy and California and earned her PhD in oenology at the highly regarded and respected University of California at Davis.

The 2019 Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Chardonnay is rich and golden, yet vibrant and zesty. This beautiful orchestra of Russian River Valley vineyards offers up enticing aromas of ripe nectarine, honeysuckle, lemon grass, and freshly baked brioche. Flinty, briny and spicy, the palate is full-bodied and rich, yet remarkably mineral-driven, with flavours of roasted Meyer lemon, grapefruit, ginger, and just a kiss of lightly toasted oak. The Wine Enthusiast awards it 94/100 and says: “This outstanding wine offers a full-range of complex flavours, texture and depth, the grapes sourced from a who's who of sites.” $45.25 (Stock #6479).

A woman’s touch gives us 2019 Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Pinot Noir that garners a splendid 95/100 from James Suckling and these words: “Aromas of wild cherry, plum, crushed stone, and ocean breeze. An array of red fruit and fresh coloured flowers fills the palate. Lingering finish. Lovely.” $53.75 (Stock #6480).

In 1988 Lester and Linda Schwartz purchased a section of virgin forest and grasslands in the high coastal ridges of the Sonoma coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. They were told by academics that it was too risky to plant a vineyard on these cool, foggy coastal ridges so close to the ocean but they were undeterred. After experimenting for several years with assorted clones, rootstocks and trellising systems, they concluded that the property had the potential to grow exceptional pinot noir and chardonnay.

In 1994 after carefully sourcing exceptional heritage clones, whose attributes they believed would reveal the terroir and varietal typicity, they began to prepare and plant the first vineyard blocks. Lester and Linda spent many days personally digging plant holes and planting vines as they meticulously laid out their 53-acre vineyard with roads, underground drainage and irrigation systems while developing and building a reservoir and designing a custom trellis system.

We will discuss their 2020 Fort Ross Vineyard and Winery Pinot Noir first, and their winemaker puts it this way: “A rich garnet hue, this coastal pinot noir has alluring notes of raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry with a touch of pink peppercorn. Bright layers of black cherry, plum and red currant with a whisper of clove are framed by the plush tannins. The lively acidity and compelling characteristics of pure pinot noir fruit linger through the persistent finish.” The Wine Enthusiast rates it an admirable 94 points. $49.50 (Stock #6482).

The 2020 Fort Ross Sea Slopes Chardonnay was picked as “Editor’s Choice” by the Wine Enthusiast, and the winery describes it this way: “Sea Slopes chardonnay is inspired by the majestic Sonoma Coast and the steep rugged ridges perched at the golden edge of the continent. Here, the cool maritime climate produces fruit of exceptional quality and allows us to craft wines of great elegance and purity.” $43.50 (Stock #6483).

Ken’s Wine Reviews feels this way about the 2019 Head High Sonoma Pinot Noir: “This dark red-coloured pinot noir from Head High is very good. It opens with a blueberry and strawberry rhubarb bouquet. On the palate, this wine is medium bodied with gentle acidity. It is balanced and easy to drink. The flavour profile is a red currant and loamy earth blend with notes of pomegranate. I also detected hints of strawberry rhubarb, red raspberry, and cinnamon mixed in. The finish is dry, and its mild tannins and flavours linger nicely. This well-priced pinot would pair well with a salmon burger.” $31.30 (Stock #6130).

Our 2021 Head High Sonoma Chardonnay is from Bill Price, a legend in the Sonoma wine industry and owner of the Durell and Gap’s Crown Vineyards, two jewels of the Sonoma pinot and chardonnay scene. His 2021 Head High is a chance to see the phenomenal chardonnay quality he and his team can achieve at this price.

Showing big, ripe fruit and a steely brightness that keeps it ultra-refreshing, it combines grapes from its excellent (and secret) vineyard sources with top-notch winemaking to deliver a chardonnay of surprising complexity and elegance.

Aromatically, this chardonnay is captivating, with a blend of rich golden apple, Meyer lemon preserves and honeysuckle. The palate is round but energetic and uplifting, showing crushed-limestone notes along with citrus and tropical fruit that fade over a long finish. The dialectic between easy-to-love fruit and refreshing brightness is possible because of Head High’s exquisite Sonoma chardonnay grapes and an approach to winemaking that emphasises maximum freshness. It scores a 90-point rating with the Wine Enthusiast.$27 (Stock #6135).

Even though Burrows Lightbourn have an extensive selection of Californian pinot noir and chardonnay it is certainly not uncommon for customers to ask: “What’s new?” You now know about six of them but there are others as well and, no matter what you might select, I wish you the very happiest of Thanksgiving dinners.

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

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Published November 10, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated November 09, 2022 at 2:22 pm)

Wines for Thanksgiving

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