Wines for Thanksgiving dinner
Turkey goes with such a range of wines that really the only rule that I can think of is to avoid very dry offerings with little fruit, in other words what I would refer to as austere in character. We do have one rule in our house and that is that all wines on this day must come from the United States as it is their celebration and as a Bermudian I am just going along for the joy of the ride.
I am thinking the two classic grape varieties that emerged many centuries ago in the Burgundy region of France. Pinot Noir is my first choice, but I am forever mindful of the sign on my office door that reads De gustibus non est disputandum (there is no arguing about taste) and I accept that our family member who hails from those lands to our west, is not a big fan of this the most finicky wine grape to work with.
Maybe I can suggest a couple that are so good that she will have a change of mind? For instance we just received a shipment of Marimar Estate “Don Miguel Vineyard” Pinot Noir 2009 ($48.40) from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma. This vineyard is now certified organic and the family has recently adopted biodynamic practices as well. The texture is pure silk and there is great richness in dark berries, cherries, pomegranates and spices. The wine Enthusiast magazine rated it 93/100. The family of Marimar Torres has farmed grapes since the 17th century in Spain and she runs their New World outpost.
Pinot Noir loves a cool climate and that is why it does so well in the Carneros (Spanish for sheep) District that runs along the northern reaches of San Francisco Bay that in turn influences it with cool breezes and fog. Further north the Russian River Valley is so named because Russian fur traders used to hunt in this chilly area for animal pelts in the 1800s. Much is now being written about hills far to the south called the Santa Lucia Highlands, as they are affected by cool winds and fog from Monterey Bay and therefore ideal for growing Pinot Noir.
Morgan Twelve Clones Pinot Noir 2011 ($35.40) is a very good example of what this spot has to offer. It combines power with finesse and displays aromas of plums, dark chocolate and cola. Flavours of leather and black tea, blackberry and cherry make it very food-versatile. The Pinot Report awards it 92/100 and refers to “stewed cherry aromas, bright spices and a silky texture”.
If you prefer Chardonnay with turkey then we have a real treat for you. Mount Eden Vineyards, half a mile high in the Santa Cruz Mountains and just south of San Francisco, is unique in the New World in that their range of Chardonnays is capable of ageing, and becoming more complex, for quite a few years.
We have their 2009 Estate Chardonnay that rates a superlative 94/100 in the Wine Spectator. Robert Parker and the Wine Enthusiast were virtually the same with ratings of 93/100. Mount Eden says that their focus is on long term ageability, expansiveness in the finish and terroir-driven mystery. Only indigenous yeasts are used, there is no fining or filtering and in 2009 only 42% of the production met their rigorous standards and the rest of the juice went into one of their less expensive wines.
As this Estate Chardonnay opens up there are captivating aromas of yeasty baked bread, lime zest and wild land smells of sage and anise. Toasted oak adds vanilla and honey richness. This is a classic Californian Chardonnay for $69.40. As you enjoy a wonderful meal remember that on that very first thanksgiving the Puritans and American Indians were truly celebrating in friendship, the bad times came much later.
Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows, Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 295-0176. Burrows, Lightbourn have 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 are available online at www.wineonline.bm