Tasting Re-Cap: Wines for Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving is coming up quickly, and it’s time to pick the wines! So, for our latest Global Passport Tasting, Bob Barrett picked wines that pair well with Thanksgiving dinner. One thing we’ve learned in the nearly-3 years that we’ve been doing these tastings is that Bob loves Thanksgiving and selecting multiple wines for his meal (and read last year’s, here)! So, in lieu of our traditional recap, I’ll let Bob “speak” for himself and just add a few tasting notes. In Bob’s words…
“The Thanksgiving Holiday may be the best of the holidays for those of us passionate about food and wine. I know I look forward for months in anticipation of this day. One of my favorite things is to determine which wines I will match with the wide variety of foods on the Thanksgiving table. I always choose about four different styles of wine and build my pairing around those styles.
I love to start meals of any kind off with bubbly. For our first wine, I chose Gruet Rosé, from Albuquerque, New Mexico. That’s right, New Mexico! It turns out the high elevation and desert climate here are very suitable for growing grapes destined for sparkling wine. Warm, sunny days allow the grapes to ripen, while the cold nights stop the ripening process and allow the grapes to retain their natural acidity, a necessary characteristic for providing structure to sparkling wines. I chose this brut rosé style because it is soft and luscious with bright berry flavors, but still dry enough to use as an aperitif and for a first course pairing.”
- Wine: Gruet Brut Rosé, NV, New Mexico
- Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir
- Tasting Notes: This sparkler is light and refreshing, with light acid and moderate “mousse” (bubbles). Red berry fruits on the nose, sour cherry in the mouth. Enjoyed by all except for 2 tasters who simply do not care for sparkling wines.
“The second style is a rich, white wine. I often like to choose a wine with a touch of sweetness. This style of wine pairs especially well with the some of the rich, buttery, and fatty foods of the feast, such as sweet potatoes, stuffing, soft cheeses, and also roasted and basted turkey. Tonight I have chosen a favorite winery of mine from the Finger Lakes, NY, Ravines. For this selection we will taste their Gewurztraminer. It is made in an Alsatian style, which means mostly dry, with a hint of residual sugar. Gewurztraminer is a wonderful accompaniment to cruciferous vegetables, such as brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and turnips. This example is quite aromatic, and has a pronounced bitter and spicy flavor.”
- Wine: Ravines Gewurztraminer, Finger Lakes NY
- Grapes: 100% Gewurztraminer
- Tasting Notes: This wine has a beautiful nose – typical of gewurztraminer’s spicy, floral bouquet. It is easy to drink, with honeyed fruits and very, very light acid. Nice, lush mouth-feel and a lingering finish. Enjoyed by the majority of our tasters.
“The third style of wine is a light, bright, fruit-forward Red, with a nice bit of acidity. This is specifically chosen to pair with turkey, as it matches some of the same flavor components as cranberry sauce, and we already know that combo works really well. Tonight we will taste two wines in this category, a rare Burgundian wine known as Passe-Tout-Grains, and a wonderful Cru Beaujolais.
Passe-Tout-Grains is a wine made only in Burgundy, France, and is a blend of the two red grapes grown there, Pinot Noir and Gamay. For tonight’s tasting I chose a very well respected producer, Domaine Taupenot-Merme. P-T-G is often times very light in style, meant to be consumed young, and produced from grapes grown in the “not-so-special” parts of Burgundy. Not so for this example. These grapes are grown in a vineyard parcel in the Cote de Nuits, in the village of Morey Saint Denis. The vines are 25 years old, and the blend is 50-50, Pinot Noir and Gamay. I like this wine for Thanksgiving because it provides a nice bright and sour cherry flavor, with good acidity, but it is balanced by a dark, earthy, richness. It has nice tannins and notes of baking spice as well.”
- Wine: Domaine Taupenot-Merme Passe-Tout-Grains, France
- Grapes: 50% Pinot Noir, 50% Gamay
- Tasting Notes: This wine has a nose of nose of pepper and clove, pine needles and earth. Similar tastes in the mouth, with pronounced acidity. The fruits are tart, which many compared to cranberry preserves. Complex, smooth, and evolving, this wine really produced mixed reviews. Bob and I adored it, while Milton thought is was “much too light” – as did several other tasters.
"Christophe Pacalet is the producer of our Cru Beaujolais, which in this case hails from the village of Fleurie. Christophe Pacalet is a producer who believes in the natural production of wine, and uses only native yeasts to ferment his wines. The wines of Fleurie are characterized by their delicate nature. The vines are grown on hillside vineyards on a thin layer of top soil above a granite base. The wines of Fleurie are typically true to their name and present aromas and flavors of violets and lilacs.”
- Wine: Christophe Pacalet Fleurie, France
- Grapes: 100% Gamay
- Tasting Notes: This wine has a plethora of flavors and nuances: rocks, cherries, dusty violets, chalk. Some tasted “smokiness”. Milton referred to this as “a real wine”(!). This is really a beautiful Cru Beaujolais that just about everyone enjoyed.
“For the final wine of this tasting I chose a dark and velvety red wine, made from the Pinot Noir grape: Dobbes Estate Grand Assemblage Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon. This wine provides a complete reflection of the Willamette Valley, by presenting a blend of Pinot Noir grown in ten different sub-AVA’s of the Willamette. This wine presents a soft and plush mouthfeel with dark berry flavors and hints of bittersweet chocolate. Its tannins are silky and well integrated in the wine. This wine will pair nicely with the dark meat of the turkey as well as hearty side dishes, especially those with mushrooms.”
- Wine: Dobbes Estate Grand Assemblage Pinot Noir, Oregon
- Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir
- Tasting Notes: This is an American-Style Pinot Noir, meaning it has more concentrated fruit flavors than does a traditional “Burgundy”. The fruits were juicy cherry, wild berries, and cranberry. The wine feels rich and smooth, but finishes clear and strong. This is another super wine that was enjoyed by most tasters.
Overall, this was a successful tasting! Our tasters differed in their opinions of individual wines, of course, but everyone found a few to love. The most popular proved to be the Fleurie and the Pinot Noir, followed closely by the Gewurztraminer. I’m trying to figure out how to serve ALL of them at my meal!