Here are some great wines for Thanksgiving to serve, gift or simply relax with.
Hillinger Pinot Noir (Austria) $19.99 – A fantastic Pinot from a somewhat unusual source, Austria’s Burgenland region. If your Thanksgiving will be featuring smoked turkey or ham, this would be our top pick. Dark cherry fruit with notes of cherry cola, velvety portobello mushroom, all-spice and smoky tannins.
Marie-Pierre Germain Bourgogne Rouge (Meursault, Burgundy) $23.99 – It’s been a while since we’ve come across a French Pinot Noir this good under $25. Fresh Morello cherry and crushed strawberry bouquet that shows impressive clarity, with a smoky tincture developing with a little air. The palate is nicely balanced with clean, fresh tannins and fine acidity, coming off light and airy with a twist of sour cherry and strawberry pastilles lingering on the finish.
Lando 2013 Russian River Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast, CA) $66.99 – Sam Lando obviously learned a great deal about making world class Pinot Noir during his time at Kosta-Browne. Thankfully pricing wasn’t one of them, since the KB stuff is all now $100+. Deep and piercing black berry fruit on the nose and fresh blueberry notes come through on the palate along with nuances of cocoa, minerality and a silky Shitakii mushroom finish.
Domaine Terre Davau (Rhone Valley, France) $11.99 – We were tempted to mark this great Cotes du Rhone at $15 or $16, figuring no one would believe us that we could offer a family owned, organically grown, hand-harvested and absolutely delicious CDR for just $12. But here it is, a blend of 45% Grenache, 45% Syrah, 10% Cinsault. Meaty blackcurrant, red cherry, pepper, scorched earth, cured meat and nutmeg.
Tensley 2013 Colson Canyon Vineyard Syrah (Santa Barbara County, CA) $44.99 – Syrah is always a fantastic choice for fall weather cuisine, and Tensly is Santa Barbara’s Syrah master and his wines are spectacular bargains considering the quality. 94-97 points, Wine Advocate “The largest-scaled Colson Canyon to date, the 2013 Syrah Colson Canyon is classic cassis, black raspberry, graphite and toasty notes to go with a full-bodied, concentrated and layered profile on the palate. This got a big “Wow” in the notes, and while it doesn’t pull any punches with regards to fruit or texture, it stays lively and elegant.”
Cantine due Palme Primitivo di Mandura (Puglia, Italy) $16.99 – Primitivo is Italy’s name for Zinfandel and this offering is Cantine due Palma is one of the boldest, spiciest and richest Primitivo we’ve ever seen out of Italy. A Zin of this quality and complexity would easily cost $25-$30 from California. Jammy without tasting over-ripe or sweet, it has deep garnet color with delightful aromas of violets, black pepper and plum preserves. Striking a perfect balance between deep fruit flavors, bold tannins and bright acidity.
Venus la Universal 2013 Dido Montsant Red (Montsant, Spain) $23.99 – 93 points Wine Advocate. A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet aged in a mix of concrete vats, clay amphorae and neutral oak barrels in order to preserve the purity and freshness of the fruit. From the same guys that make Clos Mogador, one of the region’s most sought after wines, Dido is consistently a great wine that drinks like a much more expensive wine. This bold red displays rich, dark layers of cherry and blackberry at its core. Secondary flavors of wild thyme, cinnamon and black pepper emerge thanks to the Syrah, while the Grenache supplies the dark fruit and structural backbone and a touch of high-toned perfume.
L’Original de Quinsac Clairet Rosé (Bordeaux, France) $15.99 – Just hours away from being a full blown red wine, the beautiful ruby color of this deep rose lets you know this is no delicate flower. A bold and rich Rose that can stand up to cold weather and almost any cuisine you can throw at it. 100% Merlot from the Bordeaux region, this has the bright cherry fruit, refreshing acidity and crisp minerality you expect in a Rose, but with a richer, more nuanced mouthfeel. A fantastic cool weather Rosé.
Antonio Sanginetti Vermentino (Tuscany, Italy) $16.99 – One of the tastiest yet most unique white wines we’ve come across lately. One of those wines where the nose is so huge, fruity and floral you’re expecting a big wine that might taste good, but won’t be something you necessarily would want a second glass of. The big flavors of buoyant pineapple, white flowers, honeysuckle, and apricots are all present on the palate yet they remain light and delicate on the tongue.
Leitz Dragonstone Riesling (Rheingau, Germany) $19.99 – Riesling is a traditional favorite on the Thanksgiving table and Leitz’s Dragonstone is a perennial favorite. Richly flavored with yellow peaches, pineapple and tangy citrus complimented by notes of fresh basil and flinty minerals. The beauty of Dragonstone is that the initial sweetness is perfectly balanced by the creamy texture and vibrant acidity, so even folks who don’t usually like wines with any sweetness will be impressed.
Villa Wolf Gewurztraminer (Pfalz, Germany) $12.99 – You won’t find a more expressive, flavorful and drinkable Gewurztraminer under $20. Pale gold in color, with a fairly pronounced nose of orange citrus rind, dried herbs, pear drops and lime sherbet. Slightly sweet and fruity, but complex but nicely juicy and well balanced with an attractive spicy kick on the finish.
Chateau Vartely Feteasca Regala (Moldova) $11.99 – Like the idea of white with loads of floral aromas, a creamy texture and a dash of spiciness but not a fan of the sweetness of many Gewurztraminers? Then try this amazing wine from Moldova, crafted from the local varietal Feteasca Regala. The viscosity of a good Gewurzt and similar flavors and aromas of fresh herbs, magnolia, nutmeg and white pepper with tropical fruit and sour apple.
Keever Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc (Napa, CA) $33.99 – This may be the best Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc we ever had in the store under $50. Winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown is known as one of the top Cabernet crafters in California, but he has hit a home run with this Sauvignon Blanc at Keever. Flavors of bright, fresh lemons and ripe apricots meld with sweet notes of thyme and juicy pears in this fresh, crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
Orin Swift Mannequin White (California) $29.99 (Reg: $35.99) – “The 2012 Proprietary White Mannequin is composed of 48% Chardonnay, 14% Sauvignon Blanc, 12% Grenache Blanc, 12% Viognier, 8% Marsanne, 4% Roussanne and 2% Muscat aged in 40% new French oak, 40% neutral oak and 20% stainless steel. No shy wine at 15.5% natural alcohol (but there is no heat to the wine), it offers a sensational level of honeyed mango, pineapple and other tropical fruits as well as a medium to full-bodied, luscious mouthfeel with surprisingly good acidity and freshness. The overall impression is one of honeyed pears, melons, pineapples and caramelized citrus. 93pts Wine Advocate”
Shinas Estate “The Innocent” Viognier (South Eastern, Australia) – Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc and Cornas are classic Thanksgiving whites, largely because they often feature the Viognier grape. Sadly the best examples are often pushing the $100 mark these days, but this fantastic wine from our buddy George Shinas in Australia is just as good and a fraction of the cost. Heady aromas of apricot and melon seduce nose and follow through to the palate and are complimented by soft acidity, notes of custard and honey with lovely floral and spice accents.
Reverdito Nascetta (Langhe, Italy) $19.99 – Nascetta is a relatively obscure Italian varietal from the Piedmont region that is quickly gaining popularity among winemakers. Wonderful flavors and aromas of fresh cut apples and pears along with notes of sage, almonds and apple cider will make this a fantastic option for Thanksgiving and will certainly be something your guests haven’t had before.
Holiday Sparkling Wines
Ca’ Furlan Cuvee Beatrice Prosecco (Italy) $13.99 – Our best selling bubbly, Ca’ Furlan’s Prosecco is a little drier and crisper than most others at this price point, which is why we love it. Fuji apple, peach and lemon verbena flavors complimented by a dash of yeast roll and tight bubbles.
Duran 2010 Vintage Cava (Cava, Spain) $17.99 – From anywhere else in the world, a Vintage Sparkler of this quality would cost you 2-3 times as much. Lemon zest, apples, almonds and fresh baked biscuit notes abound in this delicious Champagne-like bubbly. A blend of French and local varietals, it has the classic Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of Champagne blended with the local Parellada and Xarel-lo varieties.
Moussé Fils 2007 Blanc de Noirs (Champagne, France) $56.99 – Just 14 cases of this amazing, Pinot Meunier based Champagne were imported, and Taylor’s was lucky enough to get our hands on one. 90% Pinot Meunier and 10% Pinot Noir, aged on its lees for 54 months and disgorged in March, 2012. A bright yellow-gold color with a slight pinkish tinge, this dynamic bubbly boasts aromas and flavors of nectarine, pear skin, chamomile, toasty lees and botanical herbs are enlivened by a bitter citrus zest element. Dense, seamless and powerful, with ripe pit fruit and candied citrus flavors complicated by hints of anise and buttered toast.
Champagne Aubry NV Premier Cru Brut Rose (Champagne, France) $59.99 – Aubry’s estate Rose is 45% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 15% Meunier, which is blended in as still red wine, an unusual technique in Champagne that works beautifully here. It shows lovely energy and focus in its freshly cut sweet roses, red berries and minerals. All of the aromas and flavors flow gracefully from this tense, precise Rose. Floral notes add further brightness and polish on the striking finish.
Vilmart & Cie 2007 Coeur de Cuvee (Champagne, France) $146.99 – One of the few “grower Champagne” (producers who use only estate fruit) that has a history of using only their own fruit for 100+ years, dating back to 1890. An incredible wine that is so delicious and complex, it will make you wonder how the “big name houses” can get away with charging so much for their tete cuvees. A wonderful floral bouquet that includes hyacinth, iris, magnolia long with notes of exotic mushrooms, oyster shells and almond oil only gives slight insight to array of flavors on the palate. Salty and vivacious up front the notes from the nose are echoed on the palate along with subtle nuances of white pepper spice, honey, wild flowers, nectarines and fresh baked pastries.