Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Wines: My Personal Picks

What will YOU be drinking this Thanksgiving?

I haven't quite narrowed it down - I am bringing some to family dinner at friends - but here are the likeliest  organic picks that I expect to whittle down from.

Since I will be bringing 3-6 bottles, price is a consideration. I've tried to limit the costs to $20-30 per bottle at most.

Sparkling Wines: 

McFadden Vineyard's Brut, 2010, $25
Terra Savia's Blanc de Blanc, 2010, $23

These are the two Davids who have gone head to head with Goliath Roederer in the county contest and beat the French giant.

McFadden's current vintage has got a full 50% Pinot Noir in it. Last year's vintage won the county contest in 2010 and came in second in 2011, within a month of bottling. I look forward to its flavors mellowing. This one is a buy at the winery wine. (Stock up - I got four cases to last me the year - and this wine always sells out.)

Terra Savia's 2007 Sparkling Chardonnay was the 2011 county contest pick, tying with Roederer. You can generally find it at Whole Foods.

White Wines:

Sauvignon Blanc: Neal Family, $18
Riesling: Dashe Cellars, $20
Chardonnay: Handley, $20
Albarino: Verdad, $22
Rhone Blend: Saracina/Atrea's The Choir, $20ish
Bordeaux Blend: Volker Eisele's Gemini, $25

In California, most Sauvignon Blancs are grown in climate that's too hot in soil that's too rich. Not so with the Neal Family, who are famous for their organic viticultural management of many a Napa tycoon's vineyards, but who also grow their own grapes, mostly Cabernet, up above Napa in Angwin. There on Howell Mountain, they indulge in Sauvignon Blanc as well - and theirs is uniquely far more subtle than the average Cali SB. And their prices aren't off the wall either.

Bonterra's Riesling won double gold in the Mendo County wine competition. I've gone through a case already and am on tap to get another.

Another noteworthy organically grown California option would be Dashe Cellar's Riesling, grown by McFadden.

I am not really big on Chardonnay, personally, but if I were, the Handley Chard would be an excellent choice.

Verdad, a winery specializing in Spanish varietals, has a lovely Albarino which would also be a great choice for Thanksgiving.

Or try the Rhone blend of Saracina's The Choir, a blend of 70% Roussanne and 30% Viognier, often on the wine list at leading restaurants.

Volker Eisele, one of Napa's organic pioneers, has a lovely Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc (82/18% respectively), blended by legendary winemaker John McKay.

Red Wines: 

Pinot Noir: Cooper Mountain, $20
Pinot Noir: Porter Creek, $32

Pinot Noir seems to be the go to red wine for most wine writers, when it comes to turkey, but I like to take a broader approach and include grenache as well.

In the Pinot department, Oregon's biodynamic Cooper Mountain's 2008 vintages represent a highly rated vintage. Parker scored it 90 points, making it probably the only $20 Pinot Noir in that category. It's an amazing value and deserves to be on a lot more restaurant lists in California.

I also love Russian River-based Porter Creek's way with Pinot. (As do many). The estate Pinot is the most moderately priced one on the market at $32. It's also been on the wine list at Chez Panisse and French Laundry.

Grenache: Qupe, $35
Grenache: Horse and Plow, $22

Qupe has a lovely biodynamic grenache. I hesitate to mention Horse and Plow's since so little is made - so don't buy it all. (I need to get some!)

Bon Appetit!

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