Wines are in order when tasting all 8 wines.
A perfect wine to start off Turkey Day festivities, Sauvignon Blanc is crisp, dry, and an excellent accompaniment to veggies. Famous in the Loire Valley of France and Chile, New Zealand reinvented Sauvignon Blanc in the 1980s, taking the world by storm. The grape thrives in cooler climates and, on the island terrain, takes on an aromatic and tropical character. It is extremely common to hear the term “grassy” as well—Sauv Blanc can smell like freshly mown grass, an appealing quality! Currently, Sauvignon Blanc makes up 85% of the wine exports from New Zealand. The quintessential Giesen hits the spot with mouth-watering acidity and flavors of passionfruit, pineapple, key lime, and freshly cut herbs. This wine is an easy match-up for crudités and salads as well as green bean casserole in the Thanksgiving Day lineup.
On the name alone, this wine would be a conversation starter. But then the taste takes that experience to a whole new level! Ministry of the Vinterior is a brand from negociant-turned-winemakers Elijah Pfister and Chris Nickolopoulos. Having worked in the industry for decades, they were gifted some surplus premium juice in 2009, during the recession. MOV was born, and their 2008 Cabernet was a huge success. Their bold claim of this Pinot is that “it’s the only wine the populace ever needs.” Layered and complex, it hits you with bright cherries, orange peel, and apricot along with aromas of violets and fig leaf rounded out by vanilla and caramel. Pinot Noir is, of course, the perfect Thanksgiving wine and would pair with multiple dishes, but anything on the creamier or fiery side, like spiced butternut squash, would be heavenly.
With eye-catching branding and a compelling story, Les Jamelles is a line of classic varieties that are grown in the Pays d’Oc, which covers the southern areas of France. Winemaker Catherine Delaunay uses her Burgundian pedigree to create superb and tasty wines along with husband Laurent. Working for a short time in California, they fell in love with the Languedoc-Roussillon regions and started their label in 1995. This Pinot Noir displays a bit more body and spice than some—it conveys the red berries of cherry, raspberry, and plum complemented by hints of toasty oak and vanilla. It is approachable and quaffable with almost any Thanksgiving course, but it seems illogical not to serve it with it with jammy, velvety cranberry sauce.
François de Monval, wine merchant, and Florent Girou, winemaker, decided to partner together to form ‘Les Équilibristes,’ which means tightrope walkers. Their goal is to shake up the traditional ways of viticulture, thus freeing themselves from old practices and habits so that they can craft some of the most vibrant and unique wine of their careers. The ‘Hirsute’ (roughly translated to shaggy) Rouge is a blend of Cabernet Franc (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (25%), and Merlot (25%) cultivated in Bergerac, about 60 miles east of Bordeaux. Made with organic farming, this wine is a fascinating study in what grapes with minimal intervention can do. Aromas of cranberry, cherry, and blackberry awaken the senses, giving way to earth and bell pepper at the mid-palate. This wine is a tightrope walk in sophistication and natural oenology and would complement cornbread dressing with jalapeño peppers.
Leakey is a tiny community northwest of San Antonio in the beautiful Texas Hill Country (in 2021, only 445 people lived there!). In the past, Leaky was known more for pecan farming than grape growing until Tim Leach decided to grow Rhône varieties in Frio Canyon in 2008. The vineyard has been expanding their reach; they are currently constructing a 10,000 square foot underground cave built into the side of a hill, which will be the largest in Texas. Frio Canyon’s goal is to “produce superior red wines from Texas,” and this proprietary red blend is certainly a crowd-pleaser. Abundant in red and black fruits, the wine offers raspberries, candied cherries, and plum with five spice and tarragon on the finish. While it could hold up to various meats and game, it would shine next to fire-roasted root vegetables.
Grenache is the star of southern France, especially in Chateauneuf and Maury. For this selection, winemaker Jeff Carrel uses grapes from Maury, a sleepy town in the Mediterranean, near the border of Spain. The area has bitterly cold winters, exceedingly hot summers, and little rainfall. The soil, a combination of granite and schist, makes for difficult terrain (but is great for grape-growing!). This no doubt imparts an earthy quality to ‘Le Grenache Dans Le Peau,’ or Grenache Under My Skin. While mostly Grenache tempered with 20% Syrah, this wine seduces with dark fruits and spice. On the front are black cherries and dark plums. Raisins, spice, and an earthy quality hit the palate on the finish. This wine has been recognized with multiple accolades, including Wine Pleasures “50 Great Red Wines of the World” in 2023. A gorgeous pairing with any meat dish, it would also stand up to potatoes au gratin as mature cheeses love this wine.
Usually relegated to a blending grape, Petit Verdot originated in Bordeaux but has found its way to warm environs. The name means “little green,” which refers to the grape’s difficulty in reaching full phenolic ripeness (and its compact grape size). It is now being cultivated in Australia, Spain, Italy, California, Washington, Texas, and—yes—Chile. A richly-hued variety, Petit Verdot offers tannin for days but with balanced acidity and body. Korta chose one of the most prominent locations for Petit Verdot: the renowned Sagrada Familia Valley in Curicó Valley. The Korta ‘Barrel Selection’ Petit Verdot uses the best grapes from the region to create a wine that is full of flavor. It opens with floral aromas of lilac and violet, ascends with dark fruits, and then crescendos with chocolate, vanilla, and sage, leaving a lasting impression. Game and lamb would stand up to this wine, but so would the lovely main course, turkey with plentiful herbs and spices.
While we’ve seen an uptick in celebrities backing spirits brands lately, it was inevitable that a football player would turn to wine. Charles Woodson, Heisman Trophy winner, played for the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers for a total of 18 seasons. Woodson fell in love with wine when he went to training camp in Napa Valley early in his career. He explains: “The name ‘Intercept’ is a nod to my career, but also a reminder that during every moment of your life, the possibilities are wide open. You just have to go get it.” And go for it, we shall with this delectable blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Mourvèdre. It has notes of blackberry preserves, sweet tobacco, savory herbs, and caramelized sugar along with fine-grained tannins and a spice-filled, lengthy finish. It’s the right wine for football and for the holidays. Pair it with your favorite meat and cheese appetizer.