Thursday, December 02, 2010

What we drank for Thanksgiving

In November, it's funny how so many newspapers publish the requisite Thanksgiving wine column, in order to help us find the ideal wine that can work with turkey, stuffing, gravy, casseroles, cranberry sauce, and pies, thanks to a list of smart pairing tips.

What should we drink with this turkey?

For my part, I think it's quite easy to decide what to drink for Thanksgiving: just open a good bottle and enjoy it with your family and friends.

We started the evening with a bottle of 2008 Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Riesling that our friend Christophe had brought. Kendall-Jackson Vineyard Estates was founded by San Francisco based attorney Jess Jackson in 1982. It is one of the few remaining family wine businesses of this size in the country. Since 1982, the winery has acquired many vineyards and it is now totally estate-based, maintaining 11,000 acres of vines. It also owns 17 additional brands, including La Crema, Pepi, Camelot, Cardinale and Cambria. As of 2010 Kendall-Jackson was the top-selling U.S. brand for wines over $15 a bottle.

The wines under the Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve label come from cool vineyards in coastal regions including Monterey County, Lake County, Mendocino County, Santa Barbara County, and Sonoma County. They are all managed by the Kendall-Jackson viticultural team. The Riesling is a blend of 83% Riesling, 12% Gewürztraminer, 2% Muscat Canelli, 2% Chardonnay, and 1% Viognier. According to the winemaking notes, “87% of the Riesling comes from Monterey County where the growing season is long and cool adding apricot, almond and honeysuckle flavors. The Gewürztraminer adds orange blossom and spice. Muscat Canelli brings tangerine and mango tones. Chardonnay adds tropical lushness to the palate. Viognier for hints of floral on the nose”.

The wine had a fragrant nose of pear, apple and stone fruit and was moderately sweet on the palate with enough acidity to keep it clean and fresh. It was good with the smoked salmon and a natural accompaniment to our Sweet Potato Casserole (that we made with yams).

After the Riesling we opened a 1999 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. This was a gift from Christophe and his wife Virginie and I was waiting for a good occasion to share the bottle with them. Château Ducru-Beaucaillou is a second growth Bordeaux in the Saint-Julien appellation. The estate sits between the village of Beychevelle and the Gironde estuary, farming 50 hectares of vineyard. The soil is characterized by well drained gravel and large stones up to 2.5 inches in diameter, which gave the estate its name (Beaucaillou means beautiful stones). The vines are 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. Grapes are harvested and sorted manually. The Grand Vin is aged 18 and 20 months in 50-80% new oak.

The wine had a distinctive nose of spices, blackcurrants, and berries. On the palate, it was medium-bodied, well-balanced with smooth tannins and more elegance in the finish than power. I enjoyed it a lot and thought it worked perfectly well with the turkey, the stuffing, the gravy, the casseroles, the cranberry sauce, the pies, and my friends and family.

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