Favorite 2013 Thanksgiving Wines, Part 2

Thanksgiving wines 2013, Part 2

Thanksgiving wines 2013, Part 2

In part 2, there are several Cabernets to cover.

Mendoza, Argentina not only represented in the Malbec department this Thanksgiving, but we also enjoyed a great Trapiche 2011 Oak Cask Cabernet. The grapes come right from the foothills of the Andes, and the ample sunshine and coolness from the altitude combine to make a powerful, ripe Cab. Its full, velvety smooth and classy, brimming with black fruit and cedar notes and a nice long finish. The tannins were just moderate and didn’t take away from the texture. At 14% ABV, you can definitely taste the full force of the sun ripened grapes.

There were three Cabs from California, a 2010 Fuse and 2011 Honig from Napa Valley and a 2011 Decoy from Sonoma County. The FUSE probably derives its name either from being a fusion of 3 varietals, or that its bursting with flavors as a result. With 15% Syrah you have the addition of nice spice and extra depth, with 3% Merlot to soften and round the wine out. It was bold but balanced. Really nice.  The Decoy is made by Duckhorn and is an elegant, easy-drinking example with moderate tannins balanced with a nice acidity and ripe black fruit.

On the table to start were two wines in decanters. The Honig is a classic Rutherford Cab, elegant and powerful at once with obvious but not overpowering oak, letting the deep black fruit do all the talking. On the other end was 2006 Domaine Jean Royer Prestige Cuvée Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The cork gave me a little trouble having dried out, but some filtering saved the day, and I quickly poured a nice portion for every one who wanted a taste after it decanted a bit. This wine was a real crowd-pleaser and opened up beautifully in little time. Complex and spicy, yet still with plenty of fruit.

After most of the guests had gone, and the task of clean-up had been mostly complete, I sat down to enjoy a delicious 2011 Vidal Ice wine from Pillitteri estate.  This is a Niagara, Canada producer and as you may know they are quite renowned for ice wine in the region. I had had this before and made sure there was a bottle for this occasion. Golden in color, it burst with apricot, peach and honey on the nose and palate with plenty of sweetness to savor.

Lastly we had one left over that I had wanted to try from Anthony Nappa, and so last night we enjoyed their “Leonardo” 2013 Riesling Ice wine. Tangerine in color, this Long Island, New York winemaker sourced these grapes from their Sheldrake Point vineyards on Cayuga lake in the northern Finger Lakes region of the state. Frozen on the vines, they were harvested in January in 14 degrees Farenheit at 37 brix.  They were then fermented in French oak for 9 months before being bottled unfiltered. Rich, lush notes of blood orange, papaya and mango jump at your nose, and on the palate its a juicy sweet confection of those same tropical fruits with a long delicious finish.

Without a doubt, there was plenty of great wines to be had this Thanksgiving and I look forward to bringing a few of these to the table for Christmas.

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Favorite 2013 Thanksgiving Wines, Part 1

Thanksgiving Reds

Thanksgiving Reds

I meant to get to this before the big day and sum up wines from the past year I enjoyed that would make good Thanksgiving wines, but the holiday craziness at home and work caught up to me before I could.  But regardless, I think this worked to my advantage because there were a lot of wines at the table that I had not had before, so I wanted to do a quick summary of what I enjoyed yesterday. My father-in-law picked a great variety of wines, and the guests brought some additional gems. And its surely helped me isolate a few new wines for the Christmas table.

I drank mostly reds so I can’t really say much about the whites until the dessert wine. Though I know the usual favorite Sancerres and New Zealand Sauvignons were on hand. You know me…

There were several nice Pinot Noirs. The Argyle 2011 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir I have had before and is your average but still enjoyable budget-friendly Pinot Noir from this region. It had the expected berry fruit and a bit of oak but the nose and palate were not overly expressive. A nice light pre-meal aperitif.

The other was Archery Summit 2011 Pinot Noir Premium Cuvée, also from Willamette Valley, Oregon (this is a favorite region as you know). It is a blend of their oldest plantings and Dijon clones from their estate vineyards. It is fermented by indigenous yeast in both steel and oak and blended together. This leans more towards what I expect from here.

We also enjoyed a very dependable 2011 Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages. No Nouveau this time. While it would have been just as reliable paired with turkey, we went throught this one before we sat down to eat and it was very popular, perhaps based on my multiple recommendations! Full-bodied and juicy red fruit with the a lovely note of spice.

There was one from a favorite North Fork producer — Anthony Nappa’s “Dieci,” a Merlot-led Bordeaux blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc from the 2010 vintage. It represented Long Island well.

There were two Malbecs. The first being a 2011 Zuccardi Q which I love and wrote up here on the 2010 vintage. The other was a 2011 Trapiche Golden Reserve Malbec. This was a very nice wine as well, the difference being it was a little more subtle and old-world style and tannic than the Q which was a bit more fruit forward. The Q I think is good on its own or with food whereas the Trapiche I’d prefer to pair with food to balance out the tannins. Both are from Mendoza.

Part 2 – Cabernets, Châteauneuf and Ice wine

Roger Champault Cote de Champtin Sancerre Rouge 2007

Roger Champault Cote de Champtin Sancerre Rouge 2007

Roger Champault Cote de Champtin Sancerre Rouge 2007

I’m a bit ashamed. I am a Pinot Noir enthusiast, yet I have never had one of these. In fact, despite learning about red Sancerre in class, I guess I was way too hung up on my favorite Willamette Valley, Oregon and Russian River Valley, California Pinots to give much thought to others for some time. And while there’s nothing wrong with having favorites and I do enjoy a nice aged Burgundy from time to time, I tend to like my Pinots fairly young and racy. But like most I have for too long equated Sancerre with its more famous white wine. Frankly I completely overlooked this option even though Sancerre has quite a long history making red wines as well. In fact, it was known for light-bodied easy-drinking reds long before the famous herbaceous white came to aquire so much fame and fortune. And from my favorite grape, no less. While these reds and rosés make up only about 20% of the wine production here, the results are no less tasty. And it finally got its due in the AOC world, even if after white Sancerre achieved it.

Ruby-garnet in appearance, and leaning more towards garnet on the rim from some good aging, this wine has a beautiful nose. Seductive, even. You get the rich red fruit, you get the oak, you get the spice…. in a magnificent whiff. Ahh Pinot Noir, my mistress… Where the hell has red Sancerre been all my life. I could even forget getting the white Sancerre wrong on a certain blind tasting. Maybe that’s it. Maybe it was sour grapes after that (yuk yuk). But damn if blind tasting isn’t hard.  We all know that. And I beat myself up, only to miss a chance to love Sancerre again – until now.  (Don’t get me wrong, I still like the white one.)

On the palate, the bright red berry fruit comes back for another swing, along with some cloves, a little white pepper and beautifully-integrated acidity. A nice light body and a fruity, spicy finish. This is a luscious wine. I am enamored. I can see this as a perfect Thankgsiving turkey companion… and maybe some sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts? — yes, yes and yes. It’s not quite Thanksgiving yet, but it’s drinking beautifully on its own.

Its always such a pleasure to open a wine and say my god that is exactly what I needed just now. I wish I had opened it with a friend. Well, maybe. This affair might go on all night, until its over. While not the most complex Pinot in the world, I’m not always looking for that.  It brings the same refreshing brightness and acidity as its white cousin, in a whole new way. And there is a good earthy note in there as any Pinot should have.  With such fruit and acidity in perfect balance, this could definitely lie down for a little while longer, though I don’t know it that’s really the style or aim here.  But I do think this entry stands as a fitting eulogy for this bottle. A steal at $16.

Disznókó Tokaji Dry Furmint 2007

Disznókó Tokaji Dry Furmint 2007

Disznókó Tokaji Dry Furmint 2007

There is an exciting wine-making trend happening in Hungary and the wine quality is rated in levels similar to a French AOC system. There are over 20 regions making wine in the country, but few wines actually go to the foreign market. Other than the table wine level, there are two important levels of wine made here. ‘Quality wine’ and ‘Special Quality Wine’.

Tokaji is one that is making waves abroad.  The name of  the wine comes from the region in the north called Tokaj. This grape, Furmint, is one of the classic grapes used for Tokaji wines, the other being Hárslevelú. But Furmint alone is also known for the very famous Hungarian sweet dessert wine, Tokaji Azsú. In this process,  grapes unaffected by noble rot are made into a dry wine like this one, and the bortrytised grapes are stored and then made into a paste. This paste is later added to the dry wine in varying levels, depending on the desired level of sweetness. Based on how much Azsú paste was added, it is then rated on a scale of 2-6 puttonyos, similar to how German Rieslings are rated by sweetness.  They are then matured in cask for 3-6 years. There is a version made only in the best years, Aszú Eszencia. It’s even sweeter than 6 puttonyos and rivals some of the top dessert wines from around the world – France and Germany included.

Being the dry version, you won’t find anything sweet here. Pale lemon in color, on the nose I pick up citrus fruit —  green apple and lemon-lime. There is also a nice floral aroma. On the palette,  it is round and perhaps even a little bit oily. There is some crisp acidity and more of that tart green fruit but it is all well-balanced, with a medium body and finish. It would pair perfectly with seafood, shellfish and poultry. Average price on wine searcher is $18. I think I payed just a bit less than that.

An interesting and tasty wine. Now to go find a Tokaji Aszú, or even an Eszencia!