It’s hard to imagine that Thanksgiving is just a few days away. But here it is and here we are fleshing out those important meal plans. How do we brine the turkey this year? Is there a way to improve on an already great mashed potato recipe? How do we please that picky aunt who doesn’t like to try something new?
Then, of course, there is the wine. We believe lots and lots of wine is mandatory on Thanksgiving. How else would you be able to balance so many combined dishes on one (or two!) plates?
When planning for these wines, it’s important to realize that most friends and family who gather together don’t have the same verve for obscure grapes or unusual flavor profiles. Recognizing this fact, we tend to gravitate toward cleaner profile wines. Most of these are lighter and medium bodied (or at least balanced by a powerful acidity), making them versatile in taste and able to cut through some of the inevitable glut.
For our post this week, we feature three choices, including an unusually light Barbera, a New York Pinot Noir, and a classic but nervy Chenin Blanc from France.
Our first wine comes from Emilia Romagna in Italy. Barbera, which is one of the most widely planed grape varietals in Italy, gets a bit of a makeover from Danila Mongardi. Using long maceration of several months and amphora aging, he is able to bring both refinement and depth without dragging the wine down, even as it clocks in at 13% ABV. It is precisely this unassuming complexity that intrigued us the most.
The wine features a deep, almost inky purple color as you swirl it in the glass. The initial notes of juicy cherry build into similarly tart red fruit notes on the palette, which would intermingle well with fatty foods. As the wine opens up, streaks of minerality start to build into a structured mid palette free from most tannins. We had it open on the second day and earthy notes softened some of the fruit, but it retained its lithe minerality at the same time.
For our second wine, we had quite a lot closer to home, heading to the Bloomer Creek in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Pioneers of natural wine practices in the state, their unfined and unfiltered wines are carefully grown and aged to thrilling results.
With their 2016 Pinot Noir, they managed to extract many classic French characteristics sure to please parents and friends alike who are looking for a more grounded red. On the nose, you get forest floor and lightly mushroomed notes. On the palette, quite concentrated, dark, and dry fruit is present in balance with acid upfront. There are some tannins but the wine really highlights the soil, with softer earthy notes threading themselves in as the wine opens up. By the third day, a long, elegant finish had developed.
If anyone is looking to “buy local” for Thanksgiving, we can’t imagine supporting better winemakers.
As Pascaline Lepeltier would say: #chenincheninchenin. What is not to love about this grape that pairs well with virtually everything? What is not to love about its well wrought tension that, at its best, balances itself neatly on a pin?
In the $30 and under category, we have a wonderful, youthful example from Bernard Baudry, located just outside of Chinon in the Loire Valley. In the glass, the wine has a pale straw color with a decidedly complex nose of pear, apples, rose water and a lightly waxy lanolin quality. These pear and apple notes are quite rich on the palette, making it the heaviest of the three wines, but a slyly powerful and chalky acidity creates that implicit tension we love from Chenin.
The more we drank the wine, the more we noticed a subtle malolactic creaminess to soften up the mouth coating qualities. A bit of crunchy earth added extra depth into the finish as well.