One of my favorite holidays is coming up soon – that’s right – Gobble Gobble!
Each year I write a newsletter entirely devoted to Thanksgiving pairings.
Perman’s first rule of pairing is this – drink what you like! It makes no sense to slug down something you don’t like just to be en vogue.
Aside from that caveat – I believe there are a few rules you can follow when it comes to Thanksgiving pairings.
1. Remember that song “Black or White” by Michael Jackson – well for Thanksgiving I like to sing the wine version – “Red or White.” That’s right it doesn’t matter if you choose red or white. Both work well – and most people like to offer both to their guests.
2. Alcohol and tannin are the devil! Not really, I like both, but when eating a huge meal (and we all overstuff ourselves) it is best to keep the alcohol levels down so that you are not drinking such heavy wine – unless you are a glutton for punishment? And remember, poultry and tannin – don’t even try it, it usually doesn’t work.
3. Acidity – yes and no. Acidity is a great thing in wine and food pairings – it cleans off your palate and gets it ready for the next bite. Remember though, too much acidity, well, save that for fish.
4. Varietals don’t matter. What I love about most of you out there in email land is that you are up for a wine adventure! My peeps (customers to the layperson), are really into trying new things. So don’ hesitate to pair a Gros Manseng or Mencía with your bird because at least it will give you something to chat about with your family other than talking about the recent elections, who your dating, or why you don’t visit more!
Below are six suggestions – three white and three red in a variety of styles. There is something for everyone here, and all will work well on Thanksgiving day.
At the very bottom of the newsletter are one line descriptions on lots of other wines that I have featured in the past that will work well. The possibilities are endless!
Don’t forget – if you need beer, Champagne, Mezcal, Whiskey, Vodka, etc. – all of these are just an email away. I’m here to help!
Enjoy the newsletter!
2007 S.A. PRUM RIESLING KABINETT “WEHLENER SONNENUHR”
Classic pairing – a slightly sweet Riesling is a great white wine to get you through an entire meal. You don’t want it to be too sweet, because that will overpower the food, but that is why I chose this delicious Riesling Kabinett from legendary producer S.A. Prum.
This outstanding wine comes from the Sonnenuhr vineyard, which is one of the most important vineyards in the Mosel Valley of Germany. Remember the Germans label by must weight so Kabinett is not only just lightly sweet, it is also not too heavy. The alcohol level on this is a mere 9% – which is so light you may be able to go back for fourths.
Bright nose of grapefruit, lemon peel and mineral. Nice viscosity on the palate without being “fat,” finishing with just a hint of residual sugar that will really get eaten up with a bite of food. A really long finish.
This is actually a Riesling that you could enjoy for the next 15 Thanksgivings, as it will age. But it is so delicious in its primary youth – trust me, you will love this.
$16.99 BTL. / $203.88 CASE – ONLY 5 CASES AVAILABLE AT THIS REDUCED PRICE
2008 DOMAINE DES CHAZELLES VIRÉ-CLESSÉ “VIEILLES VIGNES”
For those sugar-phobes, I thought it would be important to include a technically dry white wine. Chardonnay, not the oaky kind from California, but in this case the unoaked kind from the appellation of Viré-Clessé in the Mâcconais region of Burgundy.
Domaine des Chazelles is an excellent producer of Chardonnay, and his old-vine cuvée is off-the-charts good in 2008. With an average age of 60 year-old vines (some are even 100 years-old), this is grown in a south-eastern facing vineyard located near the village of Viré. The soil is alluvial clay with some rocky and chalky subsoil underneath.
This is going to be an excellent match with your Thanksgiving dinner because it offers great richness, apricot and honey notes and a long, long finish. This will stand up to gravy, potatoes, and even the dark meat of the turkey.
This also happens to be very affordable White Burgundy, so that you are not breaking out the Premier Cru Puligny-Montrachet, but still getting lots of props for pouring a most excellent glass of Chardonnay. A great value!
$23.99 BTL. / $287.88 CASE
2009 DOMAINE DES CASSAGNOLES GROS MANSENG
Does your Uncle Brett barely know the difference between white and red wine? Does Grandma Josephine show up at your house with a handle of Gallo Chablis?
If this is your reality, then on today’s newsletter I have tried to offer a couple of under $15 suggestions. Not that Uncle Bill and Grandma Josephine don’t deserve it, just maybe you want to save the more pricey stuff for someone that will really appreciate it.
Those of you who came to my Southwest French tasting last month, remember me extolling the virtues of the grape Gros Manseng. You find this varietal in appellations like Côte du Gascogne, Jurançon, and Irouleguy.
This is my favorite value expression of the varietal from Domaine des Cassagnoles in the Côte du Gascogne. Recognize the name? That is because this wine has been in a previous six for $60 sampler, albeit a different vintage.
Why does it work with turkey? Gros Manseng often gives off ripe fruit tones like peach and pear. I think those fruit tones work really well with turkey. Also, the acidity on Gros Manseng is somewhat softer than something like a Sauvignon Blanc, which I find too lean. Finally, this wine doesn’t see any oak, which is something I try to avoid as well.
Oh – and Uncle Brett and Grandma Josephine will like it too!
$12.99 BTL. / $155.88 CASE
2009 DASHE ZINFANDEL “LES E’NFANT TERRIBLE, ” HEART ARROW VINEYARD
It would be un-American if I didn’t include something domestic in this years Thanksgiving day newsletter right? Most of the time I’m proud to be an American, and particularly when I realize that many winemakers are really starting to figure out that a variety of styles are enthusiastically received by the public.
Gone are the days when all Zinfandels needed to be red wine monsters, that brought you back to the days of drinking jungle juice in a college fraternity. Today, Zinfandel is grown in a variety of micro-climates, and we can even talk a little terroir!
Monster Zins don’t work great at Thanksgiving. Instead I was looking for a terrific, balanced, red fruit flavored Zinfandel – and of course, I found it! Dashe Cellars is a Zinfandel specialist. They source fruit in a variety of top-notch vineyards in areas like Dry Creek, Alexander Valley and Mendocino County.
“Les Enfants Terribles” is a series of wines made by Dashe that focuses more on “Old World” winemaking. Native yeasts, low levels of sulfur, only old French oak barrels are used, etc.
2009 marked the first year that they sourced fruit from the Heart Arrow Vineyard in Mendocino County. This organic and bio-dynamically farmed vineyard is located 15 miles north of Ukiah.
The key to this wine being turkey friendly is the fact that the grapes are gently pressed and racked to older neutral barrels for aging.
This is important because the fruit really shines through, and the tannins are very soft. Remember tannin is Satan to the turkey, so lets keep it low. This wine weighs in at 13.6% alcohol, manageable for a Zin, and drinkable through the night for us all!
This is a special bottle of wine – only 190 cases produced. Drink it for its fresh strawberry / raspberry fruit and earth notes.
$21.99 BTL. / $263.88 CASE
2007 D. VENTURA RIBEIRA SACRA “PENA DO LOBO”
All the cool kids are drinking Mencía these days! At least that is what I keep telling myself.
Mencía is a grape that is local to Galicia in Northwest Spain. It can be found in appellations like Valdeorras and Ribeira Sacra. The really exciting stuff is going on in Ribeira Sacra. Every seen pictures of Côte-Rôtie? Imagine very steep hillsides with grapes barely clinging to the terraces. There you have Ribeira Sacra.
Many young generation winemakers have been drawn to the region because of its really old vines, and because of the style of the wine. Wine geeks like cool climate reds, and there are stunning possibilities for style made Mencía from Ribeira Sacra.
D. Ventura is a winery to know in the region. It is owned by the Losada family, who have had vineyard holdings there for some time. In the Amandi area of Ribeira Sacra, Ramon Losada has two prime vineyards.
“Pena do Lobo” is one of these, featuring very steep terraced hillside vineyards on Ribeira Sacra’s slate and granite soil. The average age of the vines are over 80 years-old. Fermentation and aging is in tank resulting in a pure fruit and mineral driven expression.
This will be the talk of the table – so think outside the box and have some Mencía this Thanksgiving!
“Vivid ruby color. Intensely perfumed aromas of cherry, blackcurrant, licorice and violet, with a kick of black pepper adding vivacity. Lively and sharply focused, offering gently sweet red and dark berry flavors and a hint of bitter cherry skin. Nicely blends power with energy, finishing with mineral-driven persistence and a lingering note of blackcurrant. 91 points. Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar.”
$21.99 BTL. / $263.88 CASE
2008 DOMAINE DES TERRES VIVANTES BEAUJOLAIS-VILLAGE “LA LUTINE”
It is on its way – very exciting news! For some time I have been chasing down getting some wine from this tiny Beaujolais estate owned by Ludo and Marie Gros.
Ludovic Gros handles the wine in the family making two delicious Beaujolais from organically grown grapes. His wine Marie, farms her own wheat to make bread and pastries that she sells at the local green market.
The winery is literally in a barn, although there is a nod toward the modern with temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and pneumatic presses.
“La Lutine” is a wine with the grapes coming from alluvial silt soil. This produces a very light, ethereal wine full of tart cherry and strawberry fruit alongside mineral and spice. As the price would suggest this is a simple, but utterly delicious, light style of Beajolais-Villages that is going to be wickedly good with your turkey, stuffing, and sweet potatoes.
$14.99 BTL. / $179.88 CASE – ONLY FIVE CASES AVAILABLE – WINE DUE TO ARRIVE EARLY NEXT WEEK
PERMAN’S PREVIOUSLY REVIEWED WINES THAT GO WITH TURKEY
2008 Handley Gewürztraminer – Terrific DRY Gewürtz from Anderson Valley in California. $9.50 btl.
2008 Dr. Loosen Riesling – Delicious, barely sweet Riesling from the Mosel that is so good it makes me want to drink it from a straw. Goes down way too easy! $10.00 btl.
2008 Merlin Mâcon La Roche-Vineuse – Another most excellent White Burg with loads of fresh peach and citrus notes. $19.00 btl.
2009 Quinta do Crasto Vinho Branco – Portuguese white that is unoaked and loaded with apricot and mineral notes. $16.00 btl.
M.V. Matello “Caprice” – Co-fermented Pinot Balnc and Pinot Gris from Oregon that has just a kiss of residual sugar. $14.99 btl.
2008 Meinklang Blaufränkisch – A favorite Austrian red, that will remind you a tad of Pinot Noir. $16.99 btl.
2009 Belezos Rioja Joven – A unoaked Rioja from Spain that is fermented partially via carbonic resulting in a fruit driven, juicy and red fruit dominated style that is delicious! $14.99 btl.
2006 Freeman Pinot Noir – Just a little left of this great deal on a Russian River Pinot Noir that will knock your socks off. $26.99 btl.
2006 Lymar Estate Pinot Noir – A true cool climate style of Russian River Pinot, ever so slightly more delicate than the Freeman, but bursting with red fruits and complexity. $28.99 btl.
2006 Jean Foillard Morgon “Côte du Py” – Just a case left from one of that natural winemaking masters of Morgon. A specially priced, rustic and earthy style of Gamay with a healthy dose of fruit from the ripe ’06 vintage. $21.99 btl.
2007 Raventos I Blanc Cava Brut Reserva – Any celebration deserves bubbles – and this is an exceptional Cava from Spain that will make everyone very happy! $19.99 btl.
2004 Delesvaux Coteaux du Layon St. Aubin “Clos du Pavillon” – Considering a dessert wine that will work with those pies? Don’t sleep on this amazing late harvest Chenin Blanc from a master winemaker Philippe Delesvaux. $24.99 btl. (500 ml.)