We've featured Torrontes AND Caligiore recently on the club, so let's put them together. The 'Grazioso' is Caligiore's take on the polarizing Argentinian variety. Like the Bonarda we featured from Caligiore, the fruit for this wine is sourced from high-elevation vineyards; from the eastward town of Lavalle in this case. This is a very style-specific rendition, with as little exposure to oxygen as possible to maintain the delicate aromatics of the grape. The nose offers a fragrant blend of geranium, tart peach, and citrus oil. The palate offers a slight creaminess, with juicy stone and citrus fruit leading to a steely finish. This wine would do best as an aperitif but could also enhance a dish centered around goat cheese.
New to the club is a constantly underrated, but generally admired style of wine: Vinho Verde. Located in the Minho province of Portugal, the Vinho Verde DOC is the largest Portugese appellations in terms of size and production. Though you might think the name refers to the slightly green-ish tint of white Vinho Verde, it actually refers to how the wine should be drunk in their youth or "green-ness". Vinho Verde can be made in white, rose, and red renditions with a plethora of different varieties. The Arca Nova is made from a combination of Touriga Nacional and Espadeiro, both indigenous varieties that can be found all over Portugal. The nose offers fresh red berries cut with hints of sweet citrus. The palate features a subtle effervescence, with high acidity accenting bright strawberry and raspberry notes. Like the previous wine, this wine is excellent for an aperitif, but could also excel alongside the Ozmo noodles up at Graffiti Pasta. Maybe get a couple portions for your Thanksgiving table!
We have visited MANY of the different appellations in our favorite peninsula/ wine-utopia, but we admittedly have not touched on one of its most notable island gems. Enter Sardinia! This island in the Mediterranean is an autonomous territory of Italy, but one that gets lumped into the larger 'Denominazione di Origine Controllata' system. Though a plethora of different red varieties are planted here, Cannonau (AKA Grenache) occupies most of the space and attention. Unlike the Grenache of Southern France or Northeastern Spain, Cannonau is typically savory with an emphasis on earthy, meaty flavors in lieu of the fleshy fruit of its counterparts. That being said, Zanatta's 'Salana' opts for a softer, brighter style that should sit well at the Thanksgiving table. The nose offers tart cherry accented with dried herbs and hints of black pepper. The palate is medium-bodied, with fine-grained tannins and a medley of red and slightly black fruits interlaced with subtle anise and cedar box notes. Given the lighter style, this is an excellent alternative to pair with whatever game 'feathered or furred' you have at your table.
Petit Verdot: Simultaneously a grape many have heard of, but few can describe. If you fall into this camp, you're not alone, as there are no areas in the viticultural world that specialize in varietal Petit Verdot. Instead, it is relegated to being one of the *minor* grapes of Bordeaux; supplementing Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This is not helped by it's late-ripening nature, which relegates to the warmest wine regions OR the most patient of winemakers: enter Ricardo Cruz and the rest of the Korta team. With fruit sourced from a small DO in the Southern portion of the Curico Valley, their GR Petit Verdot sees both pre and post-fermentation maceration in addition to a year in French and American oak. The nose offers a dense, complex bouquet of black pepper, sage, violets, and plum. The palate offers present, but balanced tannins and vanilla-tinged black cherry, plum sauce, and chocolate notes. The dense, decadent nature of this wine lends itself to decadent, earthy, and umami flavors; think mushroom cassoulet.
Long before Ken Wright became the king of single vineyard Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley, he founded Panther Creek as his first venture into the state he would be synonymous with. Though he has since sold the winery, it is still known for being a pioneering producer of Oregon's most important varieties: including Pinot Gris. Though the grape does not command the same adoration as its other Burgundian brethren, the right winemaker and terroir can turn it into something special. Panther Creek's rendition is decidedly Alsatian, with aromas of honey suckle, tropical fruit, and hints of sweet apple. The palate is slightly creamy, with moderate acidity giving way to flavors of fleshy orchard and tropical fruits. Though this would generally be a can't-miss pairing with Komodo Loco, this would also be an excellent pairing for the charcuterie boards you'll OBVIOUSLY set up before the big meal (hit up Ten:One for that).
There is something magical about a style-appropriate Willamette Pinot sat on the Thanksgiving table. This is virtually all that Chehalem does; make delicious, delicate Pinot Noir in their namesake AVA. Despite a string of challenging vintages throughout the Willamette Valley due to wind and fire threats, Katie Santora and her team have managed churn out delicious vintage after delicious vintage, and the 2020 Chehalem Mountain is no exception. The nose offers aromas of black tea, crunchy red berries, forest floor, and hints of oak. The palate is silky, featuring fine-grained tannins and snappy acidity leading to a palate of cranberry, rhubarb, and hints of potpourri. This would pair well with most things around the table, but most effectively with the main attraction: Turkey.
We've covered Sancerre and Sancerre Rose, so let's move onto the last wine of the region: Sancerre Rouge. Arguably one of the more niche renditions of French Pinot Noir, Sancerre Rouge makes up the smallest proportion of productions of the three styles of wine produced in the region. Despite the relatively small variation in terroir and climate across Sancerre, Sancerre Rouge can vary greatly in style depending on the stylistic preferences of the winemaker. The Dezat estate can trace its lineage in the region back to the 16th century, and is often regarding as a respected overall producer and a champion for Sancerre Rouge. The wine has a notedly dark ruby hue, with aromas of slight cola, peppercorn, and earth. The palate is rich, with medium tannins and crunchy red fruits accented with oak-driven notes of spice, with a lengthy spicy finish. Pinot is generally known as the preeminent turkey wine, but this could also stand up to pork and lamb dishes with aggressive, umami-driven seasoning.
Though Southern Rhone's many red wines (CDnP, Cotes du Rhone, Gigondas) are ubiquitous in the minds, palates, and aisles of the American market, Northern Rhone is considerably less so. This is due to a number of factors,namely that the overall style of wine (red or white) produced in the Northern Rhone is considerably less user-friendly than its neighbors to the South. For starters, the kitchen-sink style of the South is eschewed for varietal bottlings, with only 1 red grape (Syrah) and 3 white grape (Marsanne, Rousanne, Viognier) allowed total across the whole region. Additionally, the Northern Rhone Valley is much cooler, and utilizes many of river-lining hills to plant high-ish-elevation vines. The overall result is peppery, structured reds and minerally, long-lived whites. Vincent Paris embraces said red style with gusto with his ‘Les Cotes’ St-Joseph. The nose offers savory, rustic aromas of hay, black pepper, and bacon fat. The palate is comparatively juicy and complex, with rich red and black fruits with a plethora of savory spices and earthy accents. This is the definitely the wine to pair with whatever red meat you are featuring on your table.