When you think of the great wine growing regions of the world, your imagination might first turn to the rich soil of Bordeaux or the rolling hills of Tuscany. I look west to California. America is blessed with sun kissed vines spread across the Golden State, producing outstanding wines that hold their own against Old World wines that trace their roots before the Pilgrims ever landed on Plymouth Rock.
California wine geeks love to tell the story about that day in Paris in 1976 when a red and white from Napa beat some of the most legendary Bordeaux and Burgundy wines from France in a blind taste testing that left the eight French judges speechless (quite possibly a first for the usually loquacious French).
Thanksgiving is a holiday of great national pride. A time when Americans come together to celebrate family and friendship – and for many, the memories of the Thanksgiving table are indelibly etched in their own family history. The first Thanksgiving in 1621 was a celebration of the first harvest for those who survived the journey of the Mayflower and the harsh conditions that greeted the brave settlers. There is no better way to consecrate the occasion than with an American wine.
We give thanks to the wine-lovers who visit these pages and raise a glass to the Pilgrims with some all-American California kosher wines that just might steal the show away from your turkey.
2009 Herzog Special Reserve Late Harvest Chenin Blanc (Clarksburg); $20. Tropical aromatics reveal themselves on the nose, with sweet honey, pineapple and orange dominating on the palate. Well balanced acidity leads to a long, fruity finish. I’ll have this with my sweet potato or pumpkin pie.
2010 Weinstock Cellar Select Alicante Bouschet (Mendocino); $18. A rare varietal related to Grenache. This is a food friendly red that will go great with turkey. It has an intense lavish purple color and complex tannic structure, yet it doesn’t pretend to be a Cabernet. Refined and rich, with aromas of violet, spice and blackberry lifted by subtle oak, you’ll remember this one in the morning.
2009 Herzog Special Reserve Chardonnay (Russian River); $30. A Chardonnay is uniquely suited to a Thanksgiving meal – it is typically rich and oaky wine and won’t get lost in the sage, rosemary and paprika that can overtake a lighter white. This version is barrel and stainless steel fermented and then aged in French and American Oak for 15 months. It has notes of lime, chamomile and tropical fruit with a nose of toasty oak.
2010 Herzog Special Reserve Late Harvest White Riesling (Monterey); $25. I love the fact that this wine is hand harvested in late November, right around Thanksgiving last year. By waiting till the end of the harvest season, the winemaker gives the grapes the time to develop an intense, concentrated flavor with aromas of dried apricot, pineapple, and baked apple. Rich and luscious full mouth-feel and sweetness lead to a well-balanced finish of pineapple and apricot.
Let us know what you are serving this Thanksgiving.