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Why we should drink pinot noir with turkey

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Although many years ago, I still remember my sales and marketing training with IBM.

They suggested that if we had small children we should listen to them. Their minds had so much memory space to fill with knowledge of everything and they frequently asked the most important question of them all: why?

Today I will do my best to answer the question, why pinot noir with turkey?

The gentle fruit and soft tannins of this grape will in no way overpower the flavours in roast turkey and, as this meal can take far longer to consume as we enjoy the company of family and best friends, it is gentler on us than the “bigger” grapes of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and malbec.

The succulence and juiciness of roasted turkey with stuffing will marry well with black cherry and other berry fruits. Vegetables like Brussels sprouts, green beans and even spinach are not always easy to pair with wine, but pinot noir shines here.

This ancient grape, that loves to ripen slowly in a cool climate, is best known for its birthplace in the Burgundy region of France. In fact, its name is derived from the French words pinot (pine) and noir (black) as these dark grapes form in tightly clustered bunches that are similar to the shape of pine cones.

As I am thinking of American Thanksgiving dinner, today we will just stay on the 45 degrees north latitude that passes through Burgundy’s Cote d’Or and the middle of Oregon’s most famous Willamette Valley (do not forget Will-AM-it, dammit).

The Drouhin family of Burgundy fame, were the first French folks to set up in Oregon and, like they do in their French vineyards, they farm biodynamically in the New World. It was in their winery that I first encountered the egg-shaped, concrete fermenting tanks now so the rage.

This shape of earliest life gives birth to the new wine. It is scientifically complicated as it relies on the tank walls reflecting fast moving molecules at various angles back into the fermenting must. But it works. Our 2015 Domaine Drouhin Cuvee Laurene Pinot Noir is named after Véronique Drouhin's elder daughter, Laurène, and it is the winery’s flagship wine produced entirely from pinot noir grown on the family's estate in the Dundee Hills. All of the fruit is handpicked into small totes, de-stemmed, fermented with indigenous yeasts, and then placed into barrels (French oak, never more than 20 per cent new). Once the vintage is safely in the cellar, Véronique begins the process of selecting barrels which have an extra complexity, length and depth – barrels which will work together as Laurène.

Here is what Robert Parker Wine Advocate thinks of it: “Pale to medium ruby-purple in colour, the 2015 Pinot Noir Laurene is intensely scented of cranberries, wild strawberries and raspberry leaves with nuances of underbrush, wild thyme and yeast extract. Medium-bodied, fine, fresh and tightly wound at this youthful stage, it delivers plenty of depth and expression and the long finish is beautifully framed with a commendable texture. 93/100.”

When you are picking a wine to serve to the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, and his First Lady Brigitte during their visit to the USA, it must be the best. They were served the previous vintage, 2014, of this wine. $59.15 (Stock #8076).

For a little less – $44.35 – we can supply you with 2016 Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir. Let us travel north and see what Canadian critic Natalie MacLean has to say: “92/100. From the Willamette Valley, Oregon, Domaine Drouhin Oregon 2016 is a lovely, silky red with Old World elegance. On the nose there are dried florals, violets and crushed red berry aromas. Drouhin brings their expertise in crafting aromatic elegance in Bourgogne to a region with the perfect climate for pinot noir. A great medium-plus bodied pinot noir that, with blue florals, earthy violets, ripe red cherry and raspberry, flavours on the palate.” (Stock #8077).

Elk Cove Vineyards is one of Oregon's oldest and most respected wine producers. Founded in 1974 by Pat and Joe Campbell, their focus has always been to produce handcrafted, estate-grown wines that can rival the best in the world. Estate vineyards now cover nearly 400 acres on six separate sites in the Northern Willamette Valley.

The 2015 Elk Cove Estate Pinot Noir has a brambly nose of black currents, tart cherries, and violets that are met with spicy cardamom and cinnamon. A core of juicy red cherry, cocoa nibs and leather on the palate is complemented by fine tannins evocative of dried leaves, pipe tobacco and anise. The average of ratings that I can find is 90/100. $39.80 (Stock #8395).

The 2016 Pike Road Pinot Noir also gets a 90/100, this time from Robert Parker Wine Advocate that commented: “Pale to medium ruby-purple, the 2016 pinot noir gives up warm black cherries and blackcurrants on the nose with tilled earth and potpourri notions. Light to medium-bodied, it offers good concentration of black fruits in the mouth, with fine-grained tannins and mouth-watering acidity, finishing long with some spicy accents. Delicious and a great value. 10,000 cases produced.” $29.95 (Stock #8383).

We will wrap it up with a pinot noir that rated a “best buy” on the Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s list of the “100 Best Buys of 2019” and it is 2018 Underwood Cellars Pinot Noir that is produced by the Union Wine Company from grapes sourced from across the state, although 58 per cent of them hail from the Umpqua Valley. This publication scores it 89/100 and writes: “This wine delivers a lovely core of black cherry-candy fruit accompanied by light, refined tannins and balanced acidity. It is a perfect choice for near-term drinking. Best Buy.” $22.90 (Stock #6439).

Please honour this grape by serving in balloon-shaped pinot noir glasses – a must.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

Michael Robinson advises we pair pinot noir with turkey if celebrating American Thanksgiving this month

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Published November 13, 2020 at 1:00 pm (Updated November 10, 2020 at 11:48 pm)

Why we should drink pinot noir with turkey

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