Editor's Note: In the next few days, the November 2010 edition of K&L's Wine News is going to show up in your mailbox. But Joe Mankekin's article is actually from November 2009. Go figure. Anyhow, Joe's sent us the following picks for THIS Thanksgiving that we thought you shouldn't miss. Of the wines mentioned in the newsletter, we actually have the new vintage of the Botani Moscatel and a couple of wines from Bodegas Juan Senor de Lesmos. And Joe has offered up fresh picks for this year below.
Over the past few years, I have enjoyed experimenting with many different wines at the Thanksgiving table. As useful as this can be to figure out what works with Thanksgiving food, doesn’t it strike you as a wee bit tedious? Well, it is. Thanksgiving is a holiday best enjoyed by those with a hearty appetite for food and drink. Lining up a bunch of different wines and exploring all the possible wine pairings in front of you is a distraction from why we truly cherish this holiday: the abundance of good food and wine, appreciated with family and friends.
Here’s what I decided. A choice of Manzanilla or Cava to start. Perhaps a glass of each—why not, Thanksgiving is only once a year. Four wines on the table. A solid Cru Beaujolais and a good Loire Chenin are both a must. For Spanish wines, there is some room to play around with a good white. Albariño has certainly worked well for me in the past. This year, though, I will be exploring Godello, a grape that many journalists and importers consider Spain’s next big thing for truly individual, compelling whites. And for red? It has got to be Rioja.
Bodegas Argueso “San Leon” Manzanilla (375ml $12.99) The drinking world is divided into two classes of people: those who love dry Sherry and those who don’t. If you are in the latter group, or perhaps not sure where you fall, I suggest you drink more dry Sherry. Eventually, you’ll get it. Argueso makes classic Manzanilla: salty, appley, nutty on the finish. As with other great Manzanillas (Hidalgo Pastraña, Equipo Navazos), though, there is an added richness and depth here that make this one delicious drink.
Castillo Perelada Cava Brut Penedes ($9.99) This is the best Cava available anywhere for $10. Crisp, mineral, full of citrus and crisp apple flavors. Estate fruit and long-term contracts with quality conscious growers make all the difference for this wonderful value cava.
2008 Adega Pena das Donas “Almalarga” Godello Ribera Sacra ($17.99) This wonderful, minerally, structured white shows the potential of Godello grapes grown in the high elevation vineyards of the rugged Ribera Sacra DO in Galicia. To be more precise, the vineyards are steep, facing south towards the Sil River. Vines average 80-100 years of age. Bright, well delineated and elegantly textured, this is undoubtedly one of the more elegant Spanish whites currently available in our stock.
2000 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza (1.5L $79.99) I recently write about this wine. It’s so good out of magnum, however, that I’m writing about it again and suggesting it as a piece de resistance for your Thanksgiving meal. Produced from 75% Tempranillo and 25% Garnacha aged for three years in used American oak barrels, never fined nor filtered, followed by another two years of rest in bottle, Viña Ardanza is a true classic and a standard in traditional Rioja. Impeccably balanced, the succulent red fruit flavors here mingle with subtle earthy and spicy notes, and are lifted by refreshing acidity, which is a key to this wine’s ability to pair so well with food. I have seen everyone from the most hardcore Burgundy geeks to open-minded drinker and even incredibly gifted musical producers who happen to be Burgundy geeks and open minded drinkers (what’s up, Madlib!) go head over heels for this wine. Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!