Greetings and salutations! You wine sleuths are sly dogs! Your friends, parental units, family and significant others are already reaching out to you for your suggestions as to that Perfect Thanksgiving Wine! And at the risk of blowing up your inboxes since we just delivered Chapter 27 a week or two ago, your humble Wine Bargain Sleuth has nevertheless worked overtime to deliver our 3rd Annual Thanksgiving Wine Recommendations just in a nick of time for the holiday feast! As with past Chapters, this month’s Chapter will break down for your shopping convenience our recommendations in the $20 and under Value Wines of our budget-conscious sleuths (or for those friends and family members who still think that sweet White Zinfandel is the bomb!) and the over $20 Worth a Splurge Wines (for your more sophisticated palates and chubbier wallets!). Both categories will be divided into Whites and Reds (and one Sparkler) so you can play to your own personal favorites. Without further ado, here are our 2014 Thanksgiving wine pairing recommendations:
Thanksgiving Value Wines
Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2013 For those guests who prefer a clean, crisp edge to their white wines, I highly recommend the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2013. This Kiwi offering makes an outstanding pairing with a green salad or fruit salad before the main course. Its hints of pineapple, kiwi fruit, citrus and honeydew make it a natural for a multi-course Thanksgiving feast. Widely available, the Kim Crawford Sav Blanc is often discounted from its suggested retail of $23; in fact, I saw it last week at a warehouse club for less than $13, so at that price you can afford to be generous with your pours! The acidity in the fresh white wine also will stand up to heartier dishes such as sweet potatoes and dressing, leaving your palate clear for the next festive bite! Wine Enthusiast is also a big fan of this white from New Zealand, bestowing a very strong 89 rating on the 2013 Kim Crawford.
Esser 2012 Chardonnay (Monterey County). Sometimes only an all-American Chardonnay will do for your most American of holidays! Look no further than the Esser 2012 Chardonnay from Monterey County, California. I would describe the 2012 Esser Chard as a full-bodied white, not too buttery but still offering a rich texture of caramel apple with a hint of orange citrus. If you only choose one white wine for your Thanksgiving feast, this is a heck of a value. The 2012 Esser Chard was fully embraced by Wine Enthusiast magazine, which laid a stout 91 rating on the elegant Chard and named it number 18 in its annual Top 100 Best Buys 2014 list. This California Chardonnay is hearty enough to stand up to the main course of turkey, yet nuanced enough not to overpower the delicious sides of the feast. Best part of all? The Esser 2012 Chardonnay retails for a mere $13 per bottle. Questions? What are you waiting for?
Cameron Hughes Lot 409 Central Coast Pinot Noir. Another terrific value wine from master wine negociant Cameron Hughes, the Cameron Hughes Lot 409 Central Coast Pinot Noir has become a house favorite. Available for $16 retail (perhaps $4 less with careful shopping—trust me!) the delicious juice of the Lot 409 is sourced from numerous vines along the robust Arroyo Seco region of the Central Coast of California—prime Pinot Noir country. The CH Lot 409 is a medium bodied Pinot, with a taste of bright cherries and a hint of cola on the nose, followed by a mid palate of herbs and savory earthiness, and ending with a lingering, satisfying finish. This is a lot of Pinot Noir for the price, folks. Perhaps the Cameron Hughes website (www.chwine.com) says it best: “This is ridiculously good Pinot Noir at an amazing price.” Some wine fans will argue that the ONLY wine to serve at Thanksgiving dinner is a proper Pinot Noir. If you fall into that camp, you should immediately grab several bottles of the Cameron Hughes Lot 409 Pinot Noir to treat your friends and family next Thursday! This beauty is widely available at wine merchants and some warehouse clubs, or of course on the Cameron Hughes website. You will not be disappointed with this wine, regardless of price. But who are we kidding, right? Price does matter!
Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau-Villages 2014. A perpetual favorite for fall feasts is the new Beaujolais nouveau that is released around the first of November. Our pick for this festive, fun red is the Deboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau-Villages 2014. Not only is the label bright and cheerful, but the simple yet delicious juice inside that bottle is always a terrific pairing for the traditional Thanksgiving meal. Cherries and strawberries permeate the nose and initial taste, with the obvious freshness of such a young wine at the forefront. Yet this Beaujolais also has a surprising amount of body and complexity not typically present in the Beaujolais nouveau wines. The Villages designation means that you are getting some of the best of the Beaujolais grapes of that vintage. What do the experts think? Wine Spectator was favorably impressed with this Duboeuf 2014, awarding a solid 89 rating on this wine. Better yet, the Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau-Villages 2014 is widely available for just a $13 asking price. If you are charged with bringing the wine to the feast, you can be certain to hit the mark with a couple of bottles of the 2014 Duboeuf!
Domaine de Couron 2011 Cuvee Marie Dubois Syrah. Your humble Wine Bargain Sleuth enjoys stirring the pot to challenge convention from time to time, and this recommendation certainly falls in that category for Thanksgiving meals. It is not every day that a great French wine fits into the Value Wine category, but I hereby offer to you the Domaine de Couron 2011, a delicious Syrah from the Cotes du Rhone region of France. If your guests enjoy red wine with perhaps a bit more body than a typical Pinot Noir, yet your budget demands that avoid maxing out the Visa card, then this French Syrah may be your Huckleberry! I sampled this delicious red recently with my friends at Ronin Wines recently, and my initial impression is that it must be $40-50 wine. Rich in fruit, yet remarkably nuanced and savory at the same time, my taste buds basically went crazy after my first sip of the 2011 Couron. A hint of raspberries on the front palate were quickly overtaken by a mid-palate of roasted meats and baking spices, followed by a delightful finish that lingered for at least a minute. This wine is delicious and easy drinking. Wine Advocate awarded this great value wine a solid 87 rating, and mine would be even a bit higher. Available locally at Corner Wines in Plano, Texas, I had no choice but to snag several bottles for the old home collection. And best of all, the retail for this beautiful French red is only $18. If you wish to zig when others zag with your wine choice to pair with the big bird, look no further!
Thanksgiving Worth a Splurge Wines
Iron Horse 2012 Estate Chardonnay: Continuing with our USA theme for Thanksgiving, if your budget permits a step up we recommend the Iron Horse 2012 Estate Chardonnay from Green Valley. Your guests that love the big, buttery California Chardonnays will be thrilled with this Chard, which offers strong hints of crème brulee and oakiness. The taste profile contains peach, pineapple and spice, with a late palate taste of refreshing lime to clear your taste buds for the next delicious bite of dressing and gravy. Wine Enthusiast raved about this Iron Horse 2012 Estate Chardonnay, bestowing a very impressive 93 rating on the wine. However, unlike many similar-quality Napa Valley offerings, the 2012 Iron Horse Chard will only set you back $29 retail. However, feel free to allow your guests to assume that you really splurged on them—the wine is that good!
Walt 2012 Blue Jay Pinot Noir. Walt is a sister winery to Hall, and instead of magnificent Big Reds and polished Sav Blancs from Napa Valley, Walt has concentrated on Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from different sources, including Willamette Valley in Oregon, Santa Rita Hills in the Central Coast of California and Sonoma Valley. Priced at $40 retail, the Walt 2012 Blue Jay Pinot from Anderson Valley, California is certainly worth of spurge for your Thanksgiving feast! A full-bodied, Cab drinker’s Pinot Noir, the 2012 Blue Jay will pair beautifully with the roast turkey and rich sides of a classic Thanksgiving dinner, managing to be both hearty and subtle, as the best Pinots do. Oaky and fully of texture, the Walt Pinot Noir has a balanced dark cherry flavor profile that is balanced by a vanilla and toasty finish that made me think of liquid velvet. Although not inexpensive at its $40 retail, it is a relative bargain when compared to most of the Walt Pinot Noir offerings, as well as other well crafted Pinots from California and Oregon, yet is impressive enough on its own to earn a strong 93 rating from Wine Enthusiast. Available at your local wine purveyor or on the Walt website, I recommend that you secure your share of the Walt 2012 Blue Jay Pinot Noir.
Montaudon Brut NV Champagne. As was noted in last year’s Thanksgiving Chapter, there are simply occasions when only the genuine item will do. If you quickly add your own “Amen” to this thought, then you are in luck with this Worth a Splurge sparkler: the Montaudon Brut NV Champagne. A classic, elegant French Champagne, the Montaudon Brut is actually quite a bargain at $40 (less with careful sleuthing!) considering its pedigree and place of origin. Fresh yet refined, with the sought after toasty and nutty profile, this dry Champagne is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. It makes a terrific cocktail wine or pairs beautifully with turkey and dressing. Its acidity guarantees a clean palate with every sip! No less an authority than Wine Spectator bestowed a very solid 91 on this lovely French effort. Want the real stuff without major damage to your wallet? The Wine Bargain Sleuth recommends the Montaudon Brut NV for making those Thanksgiving toasts special!
Thought for the Day: Be Thankful for Those you Love!
As I look back on 2014, it has been a blessed year in many ways. However, I like many of you have lost several dear, dear friends in the past 6 months. I was fortunate enough to share great wine with two of them before they took a turn for the worst, and the other’s health prevented that symbolic sharing of joy between friends. During the Thanksgiving holiday, I propose that each of you wine sleuths take a few moments to reflect on those that are dear to you, and I urge each of you to go out of your way to tell these dear ones how you feel. Life is short, and great moments are in short supply. To Matt, Arkady and Mike, I love and miss each of you every day. I am lucky to have called you friends.
I am extremely thankful for and humbled by those who continue to spend a few minutes a month of their valuable time with The Wine Bargain Sleuth while we explore the joy that is wine and at the same time have a little fun. I truly hope you enjoy our third annual list of Thanksgiving wines!
Finally, I would like to repeat my annual Thanksgiving blessing to each of you:
May you share your Thanksgiving feast with those whom you love and those who love you, and may your plate be filled and your wine glass overflowing…until it’s time to watch the Cowboys game!
Until next month– Cheers!
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