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Beaujolais Nouveau and Christmas wines are landing in retailers which means the holiday season is approaching at full speed. This post features some Thanksgiving selections with these parameters: All wines retail for under $15 and are composed of atypical varietals.
Special thanks to Wine101 Hamden for providing a taste of each wine. (Wines are available for purchase here!)
Cave de Wissembourg Simonet
Vin Mousseux Non-Vintage Blanc de Blancs
Simonet mirrors the cuisine of Alsace, a blend of Germanic and Gaullic traditions. Bitterness is not shied from in this wine, akin to the bittersweet tastes of choucroute (sauerkraut), onion tarte, slow cooked garden vegetables, pâté de tête.
Nose: Apple juice, brine, bitter almond, slight note of burned caramel, yeast
Palate: Crisp, plentiful bubbles coat the tongue. Notes of browning yellow apple, pickle brine, sweet pickle, fresh bread, pineapple
Pairing: Charcuterie, soft cheese, olives, or Polish dishes: sauerkraut, pierogi, kielbasa
Alfredo Bertolani Rosso all'Antica Lambrusco
Emilia-Romagna 2017 Dry Lambruso
The Bertolani winery was established in Scandiano in 1925. Four generations later, the Bertolani family now produces top-tier lambrusco wines that embrace tradition rather than cater to less discerning palates.
Nose: Black cola, licorice, blackberry syrup, catsup
Palate: Generous carbonation and froth, a backdrop of strawberry-raspberry rollup, accents ripe blueberry, cassis, and bitter saltiness on the finish
Pairing: Dried and salted meat, meat-based finger food, neutral cheese, nuts, glazed ham
Korta Irune Blanco
Lontue Valley, Curico Valley, Chile 2017 Viognier Blend
The fertile land of Lontue Valley grows healthy high-yield vines. Cool air from the Andes can cause frost during harvest season. In addition to this, warm sunny days slow the ripening of grapes. These two factors make early-ripening grapes ideal, and the diurnal shift leads to more balanced sugars and acids in the grapes.
Nose: Delicate white fruits: stone fruit, peach, apricot, dualing with citrus intensity
Palate: The three varietals each present their profiles separately for a tryptych of flavor. Sauvignon Blanc citrus on the entry leads into a swath of Viognier fruit and floral flavors to finish with a kiss of Riesling sweetness. Acidity is well integrated
Pairing: Dry, neutral plates: Turkey and stuffing, cornbread, mashed potato; or vegetal plates: potato au gratin, pumpkin soup, brussel sprouts
Domaine de Pellehaut Harmonie de Gascogne Blanc
Cotes de Gascogne Chardonnay Blend 2017
Southwest France holds the elective of most wine consumed per capita in the world. Naturally the 1,200 wineries of this region must produce-- about 100,000,000 bottles annually. Gascon wines have excellent price-to-quality. Whereas the average Bordeaux wine costs upward of $75, the average Gascon wine retails for just $10. Just as humble is Gascony's bistro style culinary offerings, unpretentious and modest. Dishes are simple and filling: foie gras, duck, eel, confit, lamprey, sheep's cheese, apple tart.
Nose: Aromatic intensity of exotic lemon, peach, grapefruit, elderflower, and linden bloom
Palate: A fresh attack is balanced by a long fruity finish. Aromas persist through the body. Acidity is bright, citrus is crisp, and midpalate is weighty. Chardonnay tends to overwhelm but not in this wine, which is balanced by the delicate flavors of Ugni Blanc and Colombard.
Pairing: Seafood dishes for the pescatarian: shellfish, smoked salmon, eel. Similarily, duck and quail. Fried and fatty foods such as foie gras, ham, soft cheese. Cotes de Gascogne whites also make for excellent cooking wine.
Murgo Etna Rosato
Etna Rosé of Nerello Mascalese 2017
One of the increasingly popular grapes out of Italy is the Nerello Mascalese, a native and ancient Sicilian grape. It's a grape considered to be akin to Pinot Noir or its relative Sangiovese. Much of Nerello Mascalese is grown in well drained volcanic soil at high climates. Low rainfall, high sun exposure, high ventilation all play a role in maximizing the potential of this grape. Wines are light bodied, tannic, tart, but diverge from Pinot Noir with high minerality, brighter profile, and herbal and tart tendencies. Black skins give rosés produced from this grape much more weight and color.
Nose: Pink floral notes, rosy fruits of raspberry and strawberry, slight salinity
Palate: Creamy texture, restrained but present acidity, slight berry tartness, a backdrop of red cherry, plum, currants, excellent tannic structure, plentiful minerality.
Pairing: Ham, oily fish, smoked salmon, chutney, meatballs, eggplant
Capçanes Mas Donis Negre Old Vine
Montsant Garnatxa-Syrah 2016
Surrounding the DOQ of Priorat, Montsant gained its own separate DO in 2002 in recognition of its superior old vine wines. Capçanes, a winery cooperative in Montsant originally produced kosher wine in the 1990s. In 1995, the winery began to modernize. Shortly after, Eric Solomon visited the winery and tasted through their wines. He created a cuvée of Garnatxa and Syrah, named Mas Donis, which he jokingly said was his "best Cotes-du-Rhone." Over time Eric Solomon crafted this wine to resemble a more serious Priorat-inspired profile rather than Rhone.
Nose: Dark berry, enticing peppery spice, fruit preserves, concord grape, brown sugar
Palate: Plum, black cherry, blueberry, black pepper, minerality, baking spice, with an underlying velvety, juicy body
Pairing: With all the sweet and savory dishes this Thanksgiving, save this for dessert. The dark fruit profile and spice may pair nicely with some Thanksgiving sides if there is a lack of chutney or cranberry, but will pair perfectly with any pie or pastry.
Coste Di Brenta Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
Lanciano Montepulciano 2016
High in acidity, medium in body, Montepulciano is a safe albeit less common pair with holiday food. Wines tend to be dark, plummy, earthy, but also easy on the palate. Montepulciano has a long viticultural history and can be simple drinkable economy table reds as well as ageable collectible big heavy tannic wine.
Nose: Red fruit, plum, raspberry jam, hints of chocolate covered raisin
Palate: Surprisingly bright, big bodied, with decent structure but soft tannins. Cherry and raspberry throughout
Pairing: The value and drinkability of this wine is incredible and sure to be a crowd pleaser. Pair generously with any dish at any time during your gathering.
Foppiano Vineyards Lot 96 Petite Sirah
Sonoma County, California Petite Sirah 2014
With Italian heritage and 120 years rooted in the Russian River Valley, this family producer is full of heritage and tradition. Founded in 1896, Foppiano Vineyards is Sonoma's oldest family-owned winery. Their Petite Sirah is consistently unique from other California Petite Sirah: A brighter, drier wine, with less focus on fruity characteristics which tend to be sweet or syrupy, and more on accentuating features such as spice.
Nose: Wild berry, dark chocolate, leather, plum
Palate: Medium body with an inky mouthfeel, backdrop of plum-blueberry, mild blackberry, accents of spice, cigar box, and puckering tartness, finishing with notable tannins
Pairing: Although not as full bodied, the profile of this wine can hold up to bolder flavors. Brisket, marinated chicken, barbecue, red meat-- protein-rich and strong dishes.
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