Top Wine Picks For Thanksgiving

Roberto Viernes
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Wednesday - November 25, 2009
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Thanksgiving is here! Yippee! This is my favorite holiday of the year. To be surrounded by loved ones, great food and wine is all I could hope for.

This year I have a list of top recommendations for the Thanksgiving table. Not all of them will be familiar to you, but they will all make a worthy companion to the joy and conviviality I hope you enjoy throughout the day.

Sparklers:You must begin with something as an aperitif to welcome your guests and to ignite your senses. Champagne is my first pick. (Has anyone noticed that the prices of Champagne are coming down? That’s a good thing for consumers.) I’m sure you know of all the BIG houses: Moet et Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Nicolas Feuillatte, Pommery, Perrier Jouet, Krug and the like. But there is one you may not have heard of that is making some terrific Champagne. That is Lanson. The NV Lanson Brut “Black Label” ($49) has a wonderful zesty character to it that reminds me of Krug on the palate. It has gorgeous aromas of sweet citrus along with baked bread, and an elegant mineral finish. At a fraction of the price of Krug, this is actually quite a value. This may not be a “Champagne” year for you, but don’t fret. The NV Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs Brut at $16 is a terrific trade down with sweet toasty aromas and a full and rich flavor profile based on Pinot Noir. It is dry and cleansing, and won’t break the budget.


For whites, what could be better with the turkey and gravy? Only Chardonnay will do on a day like this. You’ve probably heard of Mer Soleil Chardonnay.You know the one that is big, sweetly oaky, buttery and round. Well, it also makes another wine called Mer Soleil Silver, which is its Chardonnay made without any use of oak. The 2007 Mer Soleil Silver ($26) is just as sweet-smelling with tropical fruitiness, glazed pineapple, apricot and zest, but the palate is lighter and focuses more on citrus fruit and a super-long finish. This is the non-traditional Chardonnay that will impress everyone. But if you want a Chardonnay that will make your guests say “Wow,” here’s the one. The 2007 Morlet Family ‘Ma Douce’ Chardonnay ($69) is incredibly rich, complex and stunning. Let me put it simply: It is what every California Chardonnay wants to grow up to be. You will not forget this wine.

The list of reds for Thanksgiving would be super long, but I have to keep this to one page. So I had to cull my selections down to only two. And the winner is: Pinot Noir, of course. My New World Pinot Noir pick is the 2006 Costa d’Oro “Oro Rojo” ($45). Gary Burke continues to make some of the most underrated Pinot Noirs is the country, and this “Red Gold” is the real deal. It explodes from the glass with tealike spices, sweet cherry, cranberry and strawberries, then follows it through on the palate with a velvety mouth feel and sweet crimson fruit flavor. It begs to be drunk. And if you are an Old World Pinot Noir lover (aka Burgundy freak) like me, you should nab a bottle of 2006 Domaine de Montille Volnay Taillepieds ($110). Yes, this is young, but oh so sexy. You know it is Burgundy right away with its supremely polished nose of black cherries and wet stone.

Then you taste its balance and round structure that lead into black cherries and cassis. After tasting it, no one will fault you for sharing.

May you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. And I thank you for reading my column.


Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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