Thanksgiving Uncorked: My Top 10 Wines for the Holiday

"Personally, I love Thanksgiving traditions: watching football, making pumpkin pie, and saying the magic phrase that sends your aunt storming out of the dining room to sit in her car." ~ Stephen Colbert

Another wonderful year nearly ready to put in the can and stored away for posterity, but every year at this time we collectively take time-out to give a "thanks" for our collective blessings.

I know there are a few folks in my age bracket speaking mostly to the guys, it's far too easy to become the grumpy old men, we swore we would never be, yelling and gesturing for the "kid" to get off our lawns even if we haven't kept it up and has now turned a dull shade of brown.

Many of the grumpiest among us, even start to resent holidays, like the one right around the corner, for many it has become far too clichéd, football, pumpkin pies, turkeys and hot sweaters and homes so hot you can get "meat" sweats, man do I totally get that attitude.

But [yep here it comes] I think many of those "grumps" may just need a couple glasses of decent vino, to help them get over their anti-holiday feelings. So this year when you gather with your families or choose to serve others, use it to embrace them and thank each one of them for being a part of your life, whether you like them or not. I think if we all do that [myself included] we will be better off in the long run. I’m now stepping away from the soap box and returning you to your normally scheduled holiday wine review.

Every year at this time, I give my Top Ten Thanksgiving Holiday Wine "picks" and this year is no exception. I know my post is a bit "danger" close for those wanting to stock up for the holiday, but chalk-up these recommendations for the procrastinators in the audience who waited to the last minute, to hear about ten tasty selections to brighten up your holiday menus this week. Yes most, but not all of them will be Pinot Noirs. Sorry no white wines to recommend this time around, perhaps next year.

1. Emiliana Natura Carmenere 2010 Colchagua Valley $16.99: This wine was one of the early favorites that evening for it's easy-going personality, abundant fruit and uncomplicated body, made for an early and easy quaff. I scored this wine an easy 87 points.

2. Paraiso 2008 Pinot Noir, SLH: I scored this wine 91 points. Fully flavored and balanced with firm acidity. Seducing aromas draw you in again and again, a winetastic experience. A wonderfully style driven Pinot Noir, that will pair with many types of food and is great on its own. Expressive aromas and enticing flavors await your purchase. Definitely worth the price of admission. Other Voices: The International Wine Review gave them 90 points. This wine sells for $18 in a few Costco locations here in California.

3. Taz 2009 Pinot Noir: Another wonderful wine from Santa Barbara County. With so much hoopla around RRV PN it can be easy to forget about the wonderful expressions of Pinot Noir, coming from this area. In the glass you'll find a wonderful cranberry colored core, floral and baking spice aromas swirling about, leaning toward the strawberry end of the flavor spectrum. On the plate a well-balanced attack of baking spices, red berry fruits and finish is plush. I scored this wine 91 points. Just a fantastic wine from the SBC region. Taz really delivers a consistent wine tasting experience. Selling for under $20, a real steal!

4. Rodney Strong Estate Pinot Noir 2009: This wine is a steal under $15 black;">still being a fantastic bargain at just under $20. I found this wine to have a garnet colored core. The first whiff, reminded me sweet baking spices, rose petals and fragrant strawberries. On palate a nice attack of dusty-spices, sweet vanilla, sandalwood, a silky mouth-feel, and baked strawberries, mouth watering acidity, leading to the plush finish. Adds the perfect score to your holiday menu, I gave this wine a score of 89 points and a hearty buy recommendation.

5. Byron PN SMV 2009: The wine’s perfectly poised fruit to acid balance makes this wine incredibly food-friendly. My palate was struck by wave after wave of a rich cherry and raspberry pie filling, wrapped around the smokey vanilla-tinged wonderfully integrated oak, with a small dose of rich earthiness. The mouth feel is silky, the brilliant finish is long and sumptuous. This wine is drinking FAB, right now and will only get better over the next few years. A real stunner, I gave this wine 90 points and it sells for $18 most places or $26 through the tasting room.

6. Veramonte Ritual Pinot Noir 2009: Woo-hoo, this wine hit it out of the freaking park, seriously great juice for the price. In the glass, a shimmering dark crimson colored core.  A raft of flavors coming your way, cherries, raspberries, light touch of blue-berries sweet vanilla, tobacco, baking spices and fat-slap of bacon fat, and the finish is plump. It sells for a SRP of $20 at most places here in San Diego like your local Bevmo. I gave this wine a score of 92 flavor filled points, nicely done.

7. Craggy Range, Te Muna Road Single Vineyard 2009 Pinot Noir: In the glass a rich looking strawberry colored core. On the first whiff, wow, a wonderful perfume of dried strawberries, rich earth and raspberry. After the first splash down, this immediately appealing Pinot is soft but lush, presenting a raft of vanilla, cinnamon and sandalwood flavors, with a healthy splash of raspberry and strawberry pie filling leading to the silky plush finish. A great performer from our friends down-under, it has a SRP of $40 and is one of my top pick for this weeks festivities.

8. Undurraga T.H. Syrah 2009: This "Terroir Hunter" wine hails from the Leyda Valley, produced by one of Chile's oldest wineries. In the glass you'll find the core leaning toward purple. On the nose compact ripe blueberry and black-berry fruit, with just a touch of olive aromas leaps from the glass. Really nice mouth-feel, plush and giving, balanced acidity, polished blueberry and black-berry and floral flavors are drawn from the nose, leading to a nicely penetrating finish, with touches of chocolate and expresso rounding out the experience. An extremely well done wine, with plenty to offer for the $25 price of admission. I gave this wine a score of 90 points, highly recommended.

9. Loma Larga Syrah 2006: This wine is from Chile's Casablanca Valley, a 100% Syrah which was not fined or filtered, so decanting is highly recommended through a screen. But don't let that bit of sway you one bit from this fantastic example of a cool climate Syrah. It definitely was my favorite, as I gave it a solid 92 point, a great match with a variety of holiday foods. In the glass a deeply crimson colored core, deeply staining legs against the glass. After first swirl, blueberry, licorice and meaty aromas combine to perfume the air above the glass preparing you for the coming attractions.

The first sip is a head-back wow, you'll find this wine located on the drink now and drink often aisle, nice heft and the tannins are polished, leading to a lengthy finish. Gamey, herbal and earthy complexity help you get your head around the blueberry and black berry fruit that dominates the mid-palate, while the striking acidity keeps the wine in complete balance for the total package. Selling for a SRP of $29, it's great juice for this price point, it really over delivers and came dressed to impress.

10. The Fonseca Porto Bin #27 Ruby Port: You always need to save room for dessert and what would my blog be without a recommendation on one the tastier options for after dinner than this Fonseca Ruby style port, ready to dress up that pumpkin pie. A wine produced using advanced piston fermentation called, "port toes" and aged four years in neutral wood before being bottled. 

You can find this wine selling for about $20 or less most places. In the glass you can expect an opaque purple leaning toward a deep red colored edge. Sticking you nose the glass expect a raft of compact, intense, blackcurrant and cherry aromas. After the first slurp, wow nice, a fully expressive but firm, plump fruit flavors stretched over mellow tannin structure and a lasting finish.

From my house yours this holiday season, here's to a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving, whatever you do I hope you uncork some great holiday memories, until next time sip long and prospers cheers!


Matt Delaney said…
HUGE fan of the Rodney Strong Pinot Noir for the price!! I couldn't agree more.

Time for me to do some more sampling....

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