Starting the gold list off with a nerdy bang is the ‘El Tuerto’ Blanco. This wine is made of 100% Tempranillo Blanco. This, unlike other ‘white’ red wines like white pinot noir (which is just regular Pinot Noir that has been vinified white), is an actual white clone of Tempranillo-A completely different grape. SO COOL! This wine only sees stainless steel, leaving us a pure representation of this rare variety. It pours a light-medium yellow with green hues. The nose offers a plethora of mineral notes, stone fruits, and with a slight leafiness. The palate is truly unique with subtle notes of peach and kumquat cut by slate, vegetal hints, and zippy acidity. This would be an awesome accompaniment to any number of delicious cheeses and charcuterie you serve before your Thanksgiving meal.
Sometimes, sticking with the classics is the right call. As such, we have put a California Chardonnay on the list for the first time in months; we simply cannot deny how well it sits at the Thanksgiving table. Long revered as one of California’s best kept secrets, Sean Minor is now a multi-AVA force, producing wines ranging all over the California Coast. It presents as a light golden straw hue and displays aromas of apple, pear, tropical citrus and pineapple with subtle notes of cardamom cinnamon and vanilla spice. This elegant chardonnay charms wine lovers with flavors of baked green apple, lemon curd, warm pineapple, with a hint of cardamom and vanilla. All of which integrates well with a touch of minerality and a medium body mouth feel which evolve into a full and lengthy finish. This is a super-versatile wine food-wise, but would likely be best with stuffing, crumbly, salty cheeses, and pumpkin pie.
As one of the key appellations in the introduction of Rhone varietals to the US and the ‘Rhone-Ranger’ movement, Paso has been known for its decidedly-new world takes on grapes like Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre. Less famous, but equally delicious are their takes on grapes like Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier. Eschewing the powerhouse styles of Condrieu and other French regions, Viognier from Paso Robles is much more immediately approachable; opting for lush tropical fruits and perfume-driven wines. The HHV Viognier is no exception, offering plush pineapple and peach aromas and featuring a creamy texture (aged partially sur lie) enveloping a lush combination of citrus and tropical fruits. Pair this wine with a spicy mango and cashew nut salad, or a glazed apricot tart.
Last month’s notes talked at length about the organization of Cotes-du-Rhone in the Rhone wine economy, so I will keep it brief here. This blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre comes from the Cotes-du-Rhone region of Southern Rhone, which accounts for 60% of wine
production in the entirety of Rhone. Only aged briefly in oak, this is a very fresh and pure version of the style, pouring a medium ruby with slight purple hues. The nose offers loads of cherry puree accented by slight hints of earth. The palate is focused, with cherry accented by orange peel present above all, accented by a light-woodiness, lip-smacking acidity and soft tannins. This is an awesome candidate to replace Pinot as your turkey wine this year.
Now loved for its unique, but approachable flavor profile, Pinotage was once looked down upon as a crude, mismanaged commercial variety. A hybrid of Pinot Noir and Cinsault, the grape displays heaps of tannin, tons of anthocyanin( the stuff that turns grape skins and the resulting wine purple), and resilience to most weather conditions. The aforementioned mismanagement resulted in acetobacter-infested and over-extracted wines, that smelled like nail polish remover and tasted like burnt tar. Thankfully, this reputation is long behind the grape, and it is now thriving; producing delicious wines such as this one. This pours a heavy purple color with slight magenta hues. The nose offers thick globs of blackberry and blueberry accented by pipe tobacco and slight tar notes. The palate offers rich blue fruits, sweet tannins, and restrained acidity, making a perfect pairing for turkey, cranberry sauce, or even a fruit-based dessert!
The little brother/sister of Elk Cove, Pike Road focuses on multi-AVA and single vineyard expressions of Oregon Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. You have likely heard me talk about the pseudo-Burgundian nature of Oregonian Pinot Noir, and I believe Pike Road’s products encompass this beautifully with a compromise between the huge fruit of other New-World Pinots and the structure/earthy elements of Old World examples. With the 2018 vintage being a particular warm one, the nose explodes with a plethora of red berries and potting soil. The palate is laden with black currant, black cherry, sweet oak, and baking spices enveloped with a full body with medium acid. This is the first of many worthy turkey wines you will find on the platinum list.
The second of two Pinots, this is definitely the demonstrably more ‘new-world’ of the two. As someone who has tasted multiple vintages of this wine, this is the boldest rendition yet. This Monterey-sourced Pinot gracefully combines the nuanced tea and spice notes associated with Monterey and SLH versions and combines them with the heft and richness of Pinots found in Anderson Valley. It pours a dense ruby color with purple hues, offering inviting aromas of muddled cherry, plum, and sweet baking spice. The palate is comparatively heavy-bodied for even a new world Pinot, boasting a hefty 14.5% ABV with balanced acidity. This all encompasses rich black cherry, fruit leather, clove, and violet notes. This is definitely turkey wine, but could also go well with spiced desserts like pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce.
Monferrato? Yes, there are regions other than Asti and Alba where Barbera is plentifully grown. As Northern Italy’s quintessential daily drinker wine, Barbera is generally known for its lighter body, low tannin, high acid, and approachable fruitiness; particularly those from Monferrato. Scarpetta’s example completely eschews this, opting for a comparatively heavy-oaked style. This wine pours a medium blend of purple and ruby, with magenta hues. The nose offers notes of earth, hay, and a bouquet of cherry and raspberry. The palate is medium bodied with soft tannins, high acid, and reduced red and blue fruits accented by slight hints of vanilla, earth, and savory spice. Barbera is one of many Pinot alternatives for Thanksgiving, and an unorthodox pick, for an unorthodox year.
Where the heck is Gattinara? What the heck is Spanna? Why am I drinking this? It’s in Piedmont, it's the local vernacular for Nebbiolo, and because it is amazing! When we think Nebbiolo, we likely think of Barolo and Barbaresco; Piedmont’s contribution to the wide-world of collector reds. The issue with these wines is that they are almost never drink-ready until years down the line due to their rock-hard tannins and blazing acidity. It is worth the wait, but practically, most of us don’t have the space nor patience for such endeavors; but Gattinara has you covered! These wines, also 100% Nebbiolo, are generally much more approachable out of the bottle, but scratch all of the itches every Nebbiolo fan loves. This wine pours a medium ruby with noted orange hues and bricking. The nose is extremely complex, with violets, earth, and tart red fruits. The palate follows this trend, with ripe red fruits intertwined with veins of granite, oak, and anise notes. The tannins are formidable, but are balanced out by zippy acidity and a medium body. If you are having something more formidable than turkey this year or are looking for something that adds additional savoriness and complexity to your meal, consider this delicious, niche take on a legendary variety from a legendary region.