Wine suggestions for Thanksgiving.
By Louis Marmon
Washington Jewish Week November 20, 2008
Think young when choosing a wine for the Thanksgiving feast. The meal’s complex variety of aromas, flavors and textures are best complimented by a fruity, youthful wine with refreshing acidity. Resist the temptation to serve an aged treasure to family and friends since the typical fare can easily overwhelm their subtle flavors and make more tannic wines such as Cabernet taste unpleasantly astringent. The half-hour rule applies; remove the white wines from the refrigerator and refrigerate the red ones 30 minutes before serving to bring out their best characteristics.
Wines produced in northeastern France’s Alsace region are an excellent choice for this holiday. Alsace has been making wine for over 2000 years that are typically dry with bright fruit flavors and crisp acidity. Consider serving one of the new releases from Domaine Helfrich such as the pear and lychee flavored Helfrich Riesling Alsace 2007 ($ 13) with floral aromas and a lovely finish or the slightly sweeter and spicier Helfrich Gewürztraminer Alsace 2007 ($ 13). The terrific Helfrich Riesling Grand Cru Steinkoltz 2005 ($ 25) is from the region’s oldest vineyard. The rich peach and pear flavors are perfectly balanced with citrus acidity. Equally as good is the spicy Helfrich Gewürztraminer Grand Cru Steinkoltz 2005 ($ 25) which has floral and melon aromas, bright lemon and apple flavors and a nice minerality at the end.
High quality Rieslings are also produced in Washington State. Three slightly sweeter examples include the bargain-priced Chateau St. Michelle Riesling Columbia Valley 2007 ($ 10) with peach, apricot, pear and bright citrus notes as well as the well-balanced Hogue Riesling Washington Genesis 2006 ($ 16) with apricot, peach and kiwi flavors and a nice long finish. Produced from certified organic grapes, the Snoqualmie Riesling Columbia Valley Naked 2007 ($ 12) has pear and peach aromas along with apple, tangerine and nutmeg flavors with good acidity.
Viognier is a white varietal with less noticeable acidity, but still enough structure to stand up to the sweet potatoes and stuffing. Several delightful recent releases from Israel showcase the complex floral and spice characteristics of this grape. The white flower scented Dalton Viognier Galilee Reserve 2006 ($ 23) is rich and well-balanced with peach, vanilla and apricot flavors and a bit of minerals in the finish. There is a slight smokiness among the peach, honey and apricot notes in the lovely Galil Mountain Viognier Galilee 2006 ($ 15) while the spiciness is more apparent in the Golan Heights Viognier Galilee Yarden 2006 ($ 18) that also has well-balanced peach, apple and apricot notes.
Pinot Noirs always work well with Thanksgiving and some of California’s best are produced in a converted apple processing plant outside of Sebastapol. Kirk Wesley Hubbard and his wife Denise Mary Selyem’s facility is one of several partitioned within the original structure and in this small, cramped space all aspects of winemaking are performed, resulting in consistently elegant wines.
Red berry aromas explode out of the WesMar Oehlman Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 ($ 49) which contains well-integrated cranberry, black cherry and raspberry flavors with a bit of spice and leather notes. The WesMar Balletto Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 ($ 49) has spicy dark fruit aromas, raspberry, blueberries and vanilla flavors along with a great finish with a touch of tea and pepper at the end. Cinnamon and raspberry scents along with chocolate and cherry flavors predominate in the complex WesMar Russian River Salzgeber Pinot Noir 2006 ($ 39). The WesMar Sonoma Coast 2006 ($ 35) is lighter with red cherry, blackberry and mint notes while the red fruit in the WesMar Russian River Valley 2006 ($ 35) tastes sweeter along with cinnamon, cola and a more noticeable oakiness.
A spicier red wine option for Thanksgiving is a Syrah from Israel. Especially fine are the Clos de Gat Syrah Judean Hills Har’el 2006 ($ 35) with big, spicy, raspberry, dark plum and coffee notes leading to a great finish as well as the slightly smoky, black cherry scented Recanati Syrah Reserve 2005 ($ 22) that has cassis, blackberry and spicy red fruit flavors. Also worth serving is the Barkan Shiraz Special Reserve 2006 ($ 19) with smooth, rich red cherry, raspberry, pepper and anise flavors while the tasty Galil Shiraz 2006 ($ 13) has deep blackberry, plum and pepper notes.