Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I had a realization last Thursday, the last Thursday of November and the day commonly referred to in the United States of America as "Thanksgiving." As much as I enjoy exploring the synergy, indifference, or, every so often, the discordance between food and wine, I would prefer not to during Thanksgiving. I simply don't have the patience or mental acuity necessary to engage in such an activity. Especially as the host, responsible for cooking much of the food, negotiating space in the oven, and making sure that dinner is served at a reasonable hour. By mealtime I just want to eat and drink a single red and/or white wine to complement the meal. No careful consideration of multiple wines and how they complement the turkey, the truffled mashed potatoes, stuffing and multitude of other sides.
Nope, next year I'll bypass that level of intense analysis and observation. It's Thanksgiving, which means getting mildly to heavily soused, over-eating, and passing out on the couch when it's all said and done. I accomplished two of the three last week, thanks in part to the food we made and were brought by friends and family as well as a few more than a few drinks. Here's an annotated list:
2008 Isastegi Sagardo; 2008 Sarasola Sagardoa
Both tasty (they're sour cider, how could they not be). Though I preferred the more expressive and appley Isastegi. Sarasola is comparably very acetic and slightly too tart. Like the Hansen's Geuze of Basque cider. After about finishing 3/4 of each bottle (with just a little help from Natalie, most people don't dig the sour) I was ready to progress to wine.
1999 Lopez de Heredia Viña Gravonia
Delicious wine. Somehow it's rich, soft, nuanced, expansive and possessing of that rare, elusive cutting white wine acidity combined with depth of flavor that I only seem to find in the likes of Huet, good savagnin, Equipo Navazos Manzanilla Pasada, Gerard Boulay Sancerre, vintage Champagne and some others I'm leaving out. Be careful with Gravonia and turkey, though! While this was awesome wine on its own and ok with epoisses, what a train wreck with our heritage turkey. It brought out the gamey flavors in a big way, and created a chlorinated public swimming pool like flavor in the mouth - not so pleasant.
2007 Domaine de Nembrets (Denis Barraud) "Les Chataignieres" Pouilly Fuisse
Not bad. It's become rounder, plumper, a bit more expressive, and also slightly oakier since last tasting it several months ago. For Pouilly Fuisse you could certainly do a lot worse.
2008 Pascal Janvier Jasnieres
Does Chenin Blanc sec to demi-sec always have an intensely mineral pungency along with its sweet fruit flavors? I liked it, and it was the white which best complemented the meal. A stick to your palate Loire white, very distinctive.
2008 Evesham Wood Puits Sec
85% Pinot Gris, 15% Gewurztaminer. Delicious wine, though unfortunately the best of Williamette white alongside the best of Jasnieres white will inevitably be overshadowed. I enjoyed this wine's fruit expression and long dry finish. It just seemed a little one note compared to Janvier's Jasnieres.
2008 Benaza Mencía Monterrei
A fairly simple and basic lighter style Cote du Rhone like showing. Cherry fruited, peppery, lacking in the acid I need for a meal like this, and come to think of it, the acid I generally prefer in wine, food or no food.
2005 Algueira Ribera Sacra
10 months in French oak, a significant portion of it new, has not robbed this wine of its intense plum and blue fruit quality. Subtly smoky, with delicious fruit. Sort of somewhere between a Pommard and Crozes Hermitage. Nearly 7 days after first opening, this still bears more than a passing resemblance to its orginal self. OK with turkey, but what it really wants is lamb. Next Thanksgiving, young turkey and lamb! While this is a very interesting drink right now, I'd love to check back in five years. Famed mencía master Raúl Perez acts as consulting winemaker here.
2007 Marcel Lapierre Morgon
Tasty, and not surprisingly the best wine for dinner. It had enough depth to handle heritage game, plenty of acidity to refresh the palate, and such a high level of quaffability that Natalie and I nearly took it out ourselves (after some heavy drinking beforehand).
2007 Domaine Cheveau Saint-Amour "En Ronty"
Spotting this bottle in our tiny Beaujolais section at work, I wondered why I have heard so little about this particular producer. Well, I quickly figured out after sampling, giving the bottle more careful consideration, and even re-visiting on day two, that there is a reason I have heard so little about this wine: it is not good. Muddled, unfocused, uninspired.
2008 Evesham Wood Pinot Noir Williamette Valley
This winery makes very good wine. One of the few Williamette wineries (at least who sell out-of-state) whose new releases always get my attention. Two reasons for this: price ($18 for the basic PN and $14 for the white) and consistent transparency. Even in warmer vintages, the wines are nuanced, lighter in color, and taste the way Oregon pinot should but increasingly does not. This is the bottle of which our assorted lightweight guests drank the most.
Next year will be the year of turkey and red meat. Also, just two different wines at the table. Early front runners are good Rioja crianza and albariño just to keep it Spanish and to bore the French natural wine heads out there.