Bacchic Reflections

"We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana, as of a miracle.  But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made every day before our eyes.  Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy!” 

                                                                             Benjamin Franklin*

*with thanks to Fred Shapiro of
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Thanksgiving Wines     So many wines can work with turkey and trimmings, they far outnumber those that won't -- tannic, high-alcohol reds will overpower the meat and clash with any sweet accents in the meal, for instance. Here are some wines I've tasted recently, red and white, that would do nicely to complement all the flavors on the table.
Olema Pinot Noir 2012, Sonoma ***  $19.99  I especially like Pinot Noir for  the turkey feast and was delighted with this fresh, lively tasty Pinot--quality at a very good price. Made from 80% Russian River fruit, which largely accounts for its juicy cherry and black raspberry flavors. Others:  Gloria Ferrer Carneros 2012, King Estate Acrobat 2012, Decoy 2012, Anton Bauer 2012
NC Cabernet Franc:  North Carolina Cab Francs are more about fruit than tannin; the best ones exude attractive red currant fruit. Look for:  Shelton, RayLen, Childress, Grove.
King Estate Pinot Gris 2013, Willamette Valley, OR $16-18***  A lively Pinot Gris (grigio) -- dry, happily, with hints of pear, melon (canteloupe), mineral, and just enough citrus to make it crisp and refreshing. Richer texture than Italian style Grigios. Others:  Adelsheim 2012, Meinklang 2012 (Austria)
Riesling (dry to off-dry):  Biltmore 2013 Riesling  North Carolina.   Quite a lovely graceful Riesling--not sweet, just off-dry, with fine acid balance. Elegant.
Trefethen Dry Riesling 2013--charming floral fragrance, crisp bright fruit,  dashing  mineral accents; very appealing.
Dry Rosés:  Dry pinks can be very refreshing matches with the turkey feast, suited to the variety of flavors on the table:  Bernard Baudry Chinon Rosé 2012 (cabernet franc), Jean Paul Brun Beaujolais Rosé 2013 (gamay).

Beaujolais Nouveau 2014:  this chillable red will please most people at the table, whether they prefer red or white--and the 2014s are juicy and lively. Check these out:   Joseph Drouhin, Georges Duboeuf, Domaine Vissoux

Season of Apples--fermented from crushed apples, cider can be a delightful choice for Thanksgiving and at six to eight percent alchol, a lighter alternative. Foggy Ridge First Fruits and Serious Cider are two of my favorites--both on the drier side so they work nicely with food but have an appealing zest.

Dessert. For something different as a dessert wine, consider 10-Year-Old Tawny Port. My favorite Port is 20 Year Old Tawny because of its nuance and complexity, but 10-Year Tawnies are more pronounced in fruit--citrus, a hint of apricot or peach, an appealing nuttiness--that works great with pumpkin pie. Excellent 10-Year-Old Tawny is made by Dow, Fonseca, Graham, Quinta do Noval, Taylor-Fladgate, Churchill.

Wine Buy(s) of the Week

Domaine des Herbauges Moulin d'Argent Chardonnay 2013** $12.99
at The Wine Merchant in Cary. Very Macon-like--crisp, citrussy, unoaked, very attractive and quite a bargain for good Chardonnay.  Stock up.
Au Bon Climat Chardonnay 2012  Santa Barbara  $22***  Excellent balance in this elegant Chard, a nice touch of oak that give it an extra dimension of flavor; fine length with a smooth creamy aftertaste. 

  O'Reilly Pinot Noir 2013, Willamette Valley, $16-18  
Good, reasonably priced Pinots are not easy to find, so be on the lookout for this charmer from Oregon--juicy, well-balanced, eminently drinkable; great for grilled salmon but also consider for Thanksgiving.
An easy label to spot -- Arf! Arf!   Enjoy!

Pouilly-Fuissé  2011 Domaine de Gerbeaux  France   $24-28**+  Think you don't like Chardonnay? Do try this steely, crisp, very lightly oaked rendition from southern Burgundy. An excellent choice for seafood and shellfish
Barista Chardonnay 2013  South Africa  $15**+  Very good value for this fresh, crisp Chardonnay from the Cape Peninsula. A bit on the steely side (which makes it a good match with shellfish), with a light touch of  oak that rounds off the citrus and green apple flavors.  Look for the distinctive black-and-white tile capsule atop the bottle.

Macon La Roche Vineuse Château de la Greffière 2013 Burgundy  France $15-18**+    People who say they don't like Chardonnay just haven't had the good ones (granted, there are too many poor ones). This one is such pleasant sipping I'd suggest keeping a few bottles on hand--it makes a delightful aperitif  but its dry piquant flavors --  unoaked -- are also a nice match with seafoods, such as scallops, shrimp or mahi-mahi.

Seasonal Reds --
La Casaccia 2013 Grignolino, Piemonte $16-18*** Cherry color, cherry flavors in this juicy little red, made from organically grown grapes in the central Piedmont region of northern Italy.  Fresh and bright--great for pork, salami and other smoked meats, sausages. Find it at Caves Taureau in Durham or Wine Authorities in Raleigh.
Anton Bauer Cuvée 2012, Wagram  Austria   $16-17**+   A juicy blended red that is great for grilling; an excellent match for the lighter meats (veal, pork, chicken) but an appealing richness suits beef as well as savory cheese dishes.  Anton Bauer 2012 Pinot Noir, $20, is also very good with nice Pinot intensity.
Tomero Malbec 2012, Argentina  $13**  A smooth, juicy, full-bodied (but not heavy) Malbec; hand-picked grapes from highland vineyards above Mendoza. A very quaffable red--and great value. Tomero also makes a Cabernet Sauvignon, but it's somewhat angular at the moment and needs a few years in bottle; good value for the future drinking.


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