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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

WINE BANTER - Thanksgiving Wines

Thanksgiving Wines - a Real Bargain!

While belts for many may be a little tighter this Thanksgiving, we live in wine country surrounded by so many choices that enable most of us to put a fine feast together on many a budget – here are some ideas:

A $12 Russian River Sparkling / Champagne. Forestville’s Russian River Vineyards produces a sparkling non-vintage (NV) champagne (ret $12-$17) – this naturally fermented sparkling wine is a blend of three varietals – 60% Dijon Chardonnay, 30% Dijon Pinot Noir and 10% Moscato. It is relatively low alcohol (11%) and makes a superb holiday wine. It can be served as an aperitif or a pairing for an arugula salad with goat cheese and dried cherries with a dressing of champagne vinegar or mustard vinaigrette; the acidic dressing and sweet fruit forward flavors pairing perfectly. The green apple, pear and sweet meyer lemon flavors of this sparkling wine will also make a great pairing for an apple or pear tartin for dessert. Russian River Vineyards tasting room is open daily from 11 am to 5 pm. Enjoy fine wines and stay for dinner at the new restaurant, Corks at Russian River Vineyards.

A $12 California Riesling.  Ventana Riesling 2009 – the long-awaited new release is arriving just in time for Thansksgiving – white varietals with a little demi-sec (sweetness) can work very well with so many rich Thanksgiving Dinners. The honeyed nose of this wine and elegant soft fruit flavors display a floral bouquet of orange blossoms and rose petal with flavors of apricot and peaches and a hint of orange zest. The finish is quite long, and the style off-dry. The residual sugar is offset by acidity making a well-balanced wine.

The aforementioned Sparkling and Riesling demi-sec wines with residual sugars are so appropriate for winter time fair, and of course, Thanksgiving.

A $30 Russian River Pinot Noir. Russian River Vineyards Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast, 2008, Bella Sonoma Vineyards – winemaker Anthony Austin produced a full-palate wine with elements of red fruit, burgundian earthy forest-floor flavors and distinct yet subtle mineral on the palate. This pinot noir can be paired up with a more traditional Thanksgiving Dinner – roasted turkey – however for the more non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner – this wine would also pair well with Goose or Roast Rack of Lamb.

A $25 Mendocino Pinot Noir from Russian River Vineyards. Russian River Vineyards also produces a Pinot Noir from Mendocino 2007 (ret $25 -$28) – absolutely for the food connoisseur who really wants that really dry lean red fruit with the subtle herbs – hints of sage – this is another Thanksgiving Pinot Noir that’s going to work perfectly with a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner and at a terrific price.

A $9 California Red Blend. Rare Red is a blend of Mourvedre, Petite Sirah and Grenache – a non-vintage (NV) blend from Lodi, California. Each of the non-vintage blends changes in the percentage of the three different varietals – however it remains consistent in its smooth dark fruit character and is a superb sipping wine which can be paired with so many dishes from grilled seafood to poultry or pork and hearty red meats. If you have a large party of guests, this $9 red is sure to please and won’t break the bank.

A $7 Port - Gibson Vineyards Port (ret $7-$9)– California – at 18% alcohol this port is more of a red fruit characteristic and not at all cloingly sweet nor alcoholic on the palate – this port is a smooth firm and easy sipping wine – a great way to finish out a meal. 

The new Krohn Late Bottled Vintage Port 2004 (ret $25) with all dark fruit characteristics – blackberry, blueberry with hints of vanilla is also another great way to finish up a dinner served with perhaps a flourless Chocolate Cake and a rich espresso. 

Another port that can be enjoyed at this time of year is the Robert Hall 2005 – all Portuguese varietals and also shows full dark fruit characteristics of black cherry, black plum, blueberry and a very distinct black peppercorn finish. This is a port that is not for the faint of heart and is perfect for these cold winter days.

Whatever your choices, may your Thanksgiving be filled with love from family and friends.

John Haggard is owner of Sophie’s Cellars, The Sonoma Wine & Cheese Market in Monte Rio, California. Sophie’s Cellars is open 11am – 7pm, closed only on Wednesdays.