Thanksgiving Wine Picks

Pippa Hayward

Posted on November 23 2020

This year we need all the reasons we can possibly find to be cheerful. Thanksgiving is a perfect excuse to crack a great bottle – so here are a few of my recommendations – some classics and a few “wild cards” for fun…

 

 

So what works best?

If it were just the turkey it would be easy – but the arsenal of accompaniments we serve with it complicates the picture a bit. The good news is that also widens the wine possibilities.

Thanksgiving food reflects the season with pumpkin and butternut, rich potato dishes vying with tart cranberry sauce and the bird in the middle of it all. However you prepare it, this is a rich meal and for me, the role of the wine in my glass is to provide refreshment and complement rather than swamp the flavours.

Red or white (or even both?) can be equally good with this spread of diverse tastes and textures.

 

The Classics

Stick to the general style of red or white that works and you can be as traditional or radical as you like - and there will be something good for every budget.

 

Reds

The reds need enough acidity and concentration to cut the rich, sticky textures and butter involved whilst not being so dense and dark they nuke everything else.

Pinot Noir from California and Sangiovese from Tuscany do this brilliantly – and you don’t need to head for the biggest, richest style for this meal.

Birichino Pinot Noir St Georges 2017, California

Perfect – it’s a glorious and rounded wine, showing wonderful, lifted cherry and almond aromas, a really silky texture, ripe but refreshing acidity, intense, persistent flavours that cut through the food while complementing it. A true match made in heaven

Brunello di Montalcino Piombaia 2015, Tuscany  Biodynamic

Sangiovese in its purest form (you can’t use any other grape here) and from a traditional  producer who mature their wines in Botti – the huge, old, traditional barrels guaranteed to iron out the angular young wine without crowding out the fruit with too much oak. This is a medium bodied but very persistent wine – pure focused red fruits with a typical Sangiovese whiff of fresh tea leaf and leather – elegant and powerful Brunello.

Other traditional options include Bordeaux or a Napa Cab – but head for graceful maturity rather than youthful clout. Margaux offers some of the more elegant options with plenty of complexity. 

 

Whites

Whites need to be concentrated and complex with enough acidity to refresh – so White Burgundy or indulgent Californian Chardonnay are both great, classic options. 

Jean-Philippe Fichet, Meursault 2017

Properly rich Meursault – but with a good structure behind its hedonistic appeal. 2017 is very successful in Burgundy particularly for whites. While this will age well it’s already providing a lot of pleasure. I would decant it.

Ramey, Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2017, California

All you could ever want from a Cali Chardonnay, a lush perfume encompassing complex notes of honeycomb, hay and ripe citrus. The palate is mouth coating and slightly savoury with great freshness to lift the long, nutty finish.

 

 

 

Wild Cards

White

Keermont, Terrasses White 2017, South Africa

A Chenin-based blend from Alex Starey – one of South Africa’s most gifted young winemakers. Two parcels of Chenin – one more than 40 years old, with some Chardonnay, Viognier and around 10% Sauvignon. Natural fermentation and aged in old French oak. Lovely waxy Chenin texture with unobtrusive oak and a backbone of acidity – complex and remarkable value.

Ovum, Base Line Riesling 2018, Oregon

Definitely a wild card but a great refreshing white for your turkey. Amazing freshness, very mouth-watering helping to balance your meal. The wine underwent a very slow fermentation which imparted complex layers of aromatics and unusual, salty texture. 

 

Red

Ojai Vineyards, Grenache 2017, California

Cool pure, ethereal yet intense Grenache with a nod to good Pinot Noir in character – silky, fresh, long and gently spicy.

Michelini Brothers, Super Uco 2013, Argentina  Biodynamic

Not your usual South American red – old vines 60% Malbec 40% Cabernet Franc on granite and chalk soils high in the Uco Valley. Co-fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged in second use French barrels, from Argentina’s rebellious Michelini Brothers. Beautifully, elegantly mature now – decant.

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