Today, we offer a sampling of what our contributors and editors were drinking on Thanksgiving day and over the holiday weekend….
Julia Burke: Schulze Vineyards, Leonard Oakes Estate Winery, Arrowhead Spring Vineyards, and Homemade Wine
My family members all love wine but couldn't be more different, so I went a little overboard in my Thanksgiving wine shopping spree in a quest to make sure I had something for each of my loved ones, from my sixty-eight-year-old father (a zinfandel lover) to my twenty-one-year-old sister (likes "dollar bombs" and known to hit the Four Loco on occasion).
I started with plenty of Schulze's sweet Crackling Catawba and Vidal blanc de blanc knowing my sister would love the bubbles, then rounded out the list with Leonard Oakes 2010 riesling and traminette to appeal to my mother's taste for aromatic whites; Arrowhead Spring 2008 cab franc and cab sauv for me and my wine-geek-in-the-making man slave and big-red-loving dad; and finally a bottle of my homemade 2010 pinot noir for me or in case anyone was feeling particularly geeky.
Sometimes even the people you know best can surprise you. When I cracked my pinot to throw a little in a pan of roasted onions, my whole family crowded around to taste it and the bottle was half empty within ten minutes. I, on the other hand, ended up chugging Leonard Oakes reserve riesling; in fact, I blame its incredibly addictive sippitude for causing me to accidentally set a placemat on fire while passing a plate of pumpkin muffins (no muffins or riesling were harmed). As we ended the night curled up in the family room for our traditional Thanksgiving-night Home Alone viewing, I caught my guy sneaking Crackling Catawba ("Don't judge me!") while my sister went for a second glass of… Arrrowhead cab franc. And my pinot? Gone before I ever had a chance to pour a glass for myself.
I'm thankful for a family willing and open-minded enough to drink stuff I made and stuff I love. Thankful for local wine good enough to make an amazing Thanksgiving meal even better. And thankful for surprises. It wouldn't be the holidays without them.
Bryan Calandrelli: Baumard Savenniéres 2008
Wines from Savenniéres are not the easiest to find so I was stoked to find this one. Needing only a wine-centric holiday for an excuse to drop $25 on a white, I picked it up and opened it right before Thanksgiving dinner.
Gobs of white peach, pear, apricot with subtle hints of tropical fruit aromas all found their way out of the glass along with some less intoxicating aromas of cheese indicating some maloactic fermentation.
Since I’m not the biggest fan of malo in my unoaked whites I wasn’t digging the nose as I thought I would’ve.
On the palate though it was a creeper, slowly building in intensity through the finish with textured layers and a slight bitterness at the end. A little too cerebral for a turkey binge but in a blind setting this wine would surely be an attention grabber.
Stelvin closure too, I thought this region was known for its age worthy dry whites?
Lenn Thompson: Wines from Long Island and the Finger Lakes (and Beaujolais too)
For me, Thanksgiving — especially one spent with more than just a few people — is a day to open a lot of different wines and see what happens.
This year, with my wife due in early December with our second child, my family from Pittsburgh joined us here on Long Island for the holiday — which just exacerbated the need to open a variety of wines.
I started with bubbly of course, and it's amazing how quickly a bottle goes with a half dozen people drinking. A bottle of Sparkling Pointe 2000 Brut Seduction was gone before I even turned around, meaning that I had to crack into a bottle of Hermann J. Wiemer 2006 Cuvee Brut.
I tend to stick with riesling, pinot and gamay on Thanksgiving and there was plenty of that around, including Hermann J. Wiemer 2009 Riesling Reserve Dry, Lamoreaux Landing 2009 Red Oak Vineyard Riesling, Heart & Hands 2009 Hobbit Hollow Vineyard Pinot Noir, Anthony Nappa Wines 2007 "Nemesis" Pinot Noir and Christian Bernard's 2009 Red Table Select Block Gamay (Fleurie).
I knew that certain family members prefer dry whites (no matter how much acidity an off-dry riesling may have) and that some even like — gulp — oak-apparent chardonnay, but I wasn't about to open any flabby west coast editions. Instead, I also opened Channing Daughters 2008 Vino Bianco and 2008 Brick Kiln Chardonnay. Both were enjoyed and emptied quickly.
I had a couple dessert wines planned for the homemade apple pie and pumpkin pudding (Jackson's favorite) but we never quite got to them. I went back for another glass of the Wiemer riesling instead.
I opened it with dessert thinking, "Oh yeah, this is going to be a rich, malty porter that will be just dynamite with our homemade pecan pie." I couldn't have been more wrong. This is NOT a porter you may be thinking of…this is something else entirely.
Under the skilled guidance of Brewmaster Phil Markowski, Southampton brewed a style of porter that one may have experienced in 19th century Britain.
Aged in red wine barrels and with a dosing of Brettanomyces, it is more sour than rich. I quickly shifted gears, pulled the beer and pie apart and enjoyed them separately. NOT a good food match. BUT a damn good bear. Sharp and vinous, with a dry tang on the finish. Chocolaty flavors, yet more like that of a red wine. Effervescent and smooth.
Sometimes you just need to recalibrate what you're expecting when someone tells you what "style" you're drinking. Porter today is not the porter of yesteryear.
Tracy Weiss: Wine Tasting Class in the Poconos
Most people spend this holiday drinking a favorite ‘Turkey approved’ bottle while fending off inappropriate questions from relatives. This year, my husband and I decided to shun our families and hole up at a spa in the Poconos. Happily, I noted a wine tasting scheduled late in the afternoon on Thanksgiving Day. How wonderful! I’d get to try *multiple bottles* of fine wine instead of committing to the one I generally polish off myself since I am the only person in my nuclear family who likes fruits of the wine.
This class was a total bust. I disliked three out of the six bottles presented. This is important to note, as I will drink almost ANYTHING if there is cheese involved. After the first two glasses, I go to a happy place where I rationalize and try and find the good in every wine. So if I don’t like something — it has got to be heinous.
The winner though was Simonnet Febvre Saint-Bris 2009 Sauvignon Blanc. I was excited about this wine because I didn’t know they produced Sauv Blanc in Burgundy. I’m used to seeing Chablis and expected this to suck. Hooray! It didn’t. I found it refreshing with a good balance of acidity. Great citrus flavor and the mineral component I like. Bright like a flashlight and a good value for what it is.
Runner Up: 2007 Chateau La Tour-de-By, Medoc, which saved the day after two disappointing reds. A full-bodied sip showed all the characteristics I’d expect while staying simple and a little leathery. There was a note of pencil shavings that made me want to stop by my 3rd grade classroom to revisit the smell.
The wine I'd label "The Worst" from the tasting was Chateau Les Revilles 2008 Blanc. For this family oriented holiday I feel like I should try and keep this clean, but the expletives that crossed my mind after pushing my nose into this glass would make even the grizzled team at the New York Cork Report blush. This wine smelled like your pee after you eat asparagus. A LOT of asparagus. It smelled like kitty litter. And tasted only slightly better. I shoved blue cheese into my mouth as fast as I could hoping the strong flavor would magically transform this white like Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother. It didn’t happen. The only upside to this product was that it was free. And then my Husband reminded me we paid $30 for the class.
Evan Dawson: Jean Paul Brun 2009 Brouilly
If you're not drinking Jean Paul Brun's Cru Beaujolais, it's no big deal. You're simply missing the greatest value wines in the world.
$17 for this bottle, which is offensive.
It's aggressively aromatic and more complex with its lightish body than you might assume. It's also a Cru Beauj that does not see carbonic maceration, so the profile is more varied.
When writers wax on about minerality in red wines, sometimes they're sincere. Sometimes they're bull-shitting. This wine should be poured for anyone who wants to know what a minerally red wine smells and tastes like. It's lip-smackingly beautiful, and you can still find it in stores. What are you waiting for?