The season is upon us. High on the“to do” is dropping by your local purveyor of wines and spirits, or descending your cellar steps to seek one of those prized dusty bottles in preparation for feasts soon to come with family and friends to celebrate the holidays.
But first, the menu. Unlike other celebratory meals throughout the year, this one is definitely built around the food selections and not the wine.
Plain roast turkey is a blank page and many wines from the winemaking planet could be suitable. Holiday feasts in our house, however, share with many others, an extensive array of robust flavours that need a forceful wine with lots of character. Other aspects to consider, according to Decanter magazine, are tannin and acid. Our choice should not have too much of one (tannin) as it can “overpower the meat and our taste buds” and have enough acid to balance the many contrasting flavours.
So what wines fit this description?
They can be red or white.
The reds should be young(ish), not contain Cabernet Sauvignon (unless older), and not be too robust, which eliminates Argentinian Malbec and Australian and other Shiraz/Syrah based wines.
The potential white selections are fewer since it is more difficult to find real character with sufficient acid in the same bottle.
This brings us to our choice of ideal wines, which include:
Reds: Gamay based wines such as a Cru Beaujolais or an Ontario Gamay, or maybe a southern Rhone from France or a Pinot Noir from Oregon should all set off your turkey with all its trimmings.
Whites: White Burgundy is traditional but South African Chenin Blanc and Pinot Gris from California, Oregon or British Columbia will also enhance your table.
Some selections currently available include:
Reds at less than $20
MALIVOIRE GAMAY 2016 from Ontario
Full of body for a Gamay, with fragrant cherries on the nose. With just a hint of oak, this wine fills the mouth with loads of red berry fruit, all leading to a spicy finish.
CHÂTEAU DE NAGES VIEILLES VIGNES COSTIÈRES DE NÎMES 2015
Grenache is the lead grape here; this wine from the lower Rhone shows off its characteristic black raspberry aromas and flavours. Moderately rich with plenty of layered fruit for this style of wine. Excellent finish.
And at a higher, but still reasonable price:
ACROBAT PINOT NOIR 2015
A rich ruby colour, this wine shows us what Oregon Pinots are all about. We are immediately struck by the sensation of earthy tart cherries. This is a beautifully balanced bottle, with oak and red fruit working together to produce something very special. Long finish.
To find value in whites for the holiday table is more challenging, but at less than $20 the best options are from South Africa. But the country has more to offer. For double that price, here is a Chenin Blanc to remember.
RADFORD DALE RENAISSANCE CHENIN BLANC 2016
Could be a rich white Burgundy, but with a Chenin twist. From old bush vines, this wine combines the rich flavours of ripe stone fruits with just a touch of rose blossom honey. Amazing finish. A luscious bottle.
Finally, and also from Oregon, we have a reasonably priced bottle to suggest:
CLOUDLINE PINOT GRIS 2016
Made under the watchful eye of Véronique Drouhin-Boss from the Drouhin family of Burgundy fame, this wine retains the freshness, acidity and floral aromatics of this grape as grown in Oregon. Flavours of peaches and other stone fruits show through. Plenty of fleshy fruit, well-balanced with acid. Good length. This is truly a touch of France in Oregon.