[From time to time, my dear friend Kristy sends us an entry for the happyrobot. She is one of our west coast robots and has been in the wine & spirits business for many years.]
Forgive my tardiness with wine reviews, I’m getting the swing of a new job, I bought a house, moved, bought a car and have basically been a nutbag since August. This much belated installment here on the robot is a sincere one that is just in time for your holiday meal. I am suggesting wines that are not too expensive ( so you can buy several bottles for large, thirsty crowds) and wines that are not too obtrusive. You would never want to present a wine that is potentially overwhelming to the delicious foods prepared from ancient family recipes with the utmost attention and detail for hours and hours just before you sip and sup. If you can’t find the actual wines listed here, please consider these styles as comfortable accompaniments to the feast. They must be versatile wines, able to withstand everything from the Jello Salad to the deviled eggs to the beast to the sweet potatoes.
None of my suggestions include the Beaujolais Nouveau, but it is not because it isn’t right. The purpose of this wine being released with much ado just before our American Feast holiday and marketed so broadly is because it goes great and pleases anybody. It is lightly styled, should be served with a slight chill, and is an easy, fruity sipper comfy enough for anyone sipping at the meal.
Holiday Tips -- Open all the reds early enough to let them breathe and open up. The whites can all be stashed in a cooler filled with ice water cloaked in a white table cloth with towels on hand to keep the bottles from wetting the table as you pour. Try to spread red wine bottles around the table so folks can help themselves -- you don’t need to be an overly observant host - it is your holiday too. Don’t forget to have bottles or pitchers of water available and glasses for that too. You want folks to make it to dessert without going to sleep in their plates.
WHITES and PINKS:
Chateau Trinquevedel Tavel Rose:
Dry and robust. Teasing scents of strawberries and hibiscus wind up in flavors of dried cranberry tart and baked apples gliding into a very long finish. A perfect match for warm curry spices.
Vinum Roussane 2001:
Unbelievable. Delicious mineral and briny notes as it fills the mouth with a richness and supple grace.
William Fevre Chablis 2002:
A pale lemon-gold wine, reflecting the cool climate. Very classic on the nose, which has lean mineral aromas. With time it develops richer notes, although appropriately these are mere nuances, of honeydew melon and butterscotch. Fresh acidity, medium body and a little grip on the palate, with restrained, stylish mineral fruits. As it warms in the glass it develops a more open, warm, flavorsome character on the palate. A classic, ripe Chablis. Lovely.
Champalou Vouvray Sec 2002:
Youthful, lively, fresh and interesting! Apple skin and lemon meringue on the nose, with more apple and citrus that dance on the palate. Lovely with sashimi- versatile with food or alone.
Olivet Lane Pinot Noir Russian River 2002:
Velvety smooth, aromas of blackberry and sage. This wine has great structure, firm tannins, and a nice long finish. Flavors are of warm red fruits, dark plum, subtle clove and a bit of minerally earth, laying down deliciously smooth and savory notes against leaving a lingering finish of baked cherry, cranberry and spice.
Fox Creek Sparkling Shiraz/Cabernet:
For those who enjoy the bubbles, this is a goody. Dramatic, deep purple with flavors of blackberries and overripe cherries, rounding out with chocolate and red licorice and a semi dry finish.
Saintsbury Garnet Pinot Noir:
This wine is perfect for turkey. It isn’t as big as the other Saintsbury Pinot Noirs from the central coast area. This wine has lovely bright fruit concentrated in the nose, it is ripe and juicy on the palate with a delicate herbaceous finish. Easy to drink, won’t overwhelm foods, but has the acidity and the spice to compliment game, poultry and winter squash.
Gypsy Dancer - Gary and Christine’s Vineyard 2002:
From the much hailed ‘02 vintage in Oregon, this wine is not budget priced, but a phenomenal treat for a feast of appreciation. It has been made with the utmost care and precision. Speaking of fall with full rich dark fruits, wet earth, dried plum skins, and warm spices balanced out by a zingy and enticing acidity. It is on the Burgundian side of Oregon Pinot style, showing the vineyard properties right through the glass, making it an amazing treat for Thanksgiving or anytime.
Other inexpensive great reds for the Turkey feast include:
Cotes du Rhones, Malbecs from Argentina, GSM’s - Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre blends from Australia or California, Burgandy -- yes, there are a few out there that can be affordable.
On the white side, try also:
Gewurztraminer and Whites from Alsace as well as a good dry Riesling from Germany or Eden Valley Australia, or Roussane, Marsanne, Viognier blends from the Rhone or beyond.
Instead of heavy port, try a nice sherry, madiera or cognac by the fireplace...