Beaujolais Noveau is perhaps the most popular choice for Turkey Day and has been called by many “Thanksgiving Wine”. A little history is in order here. As the clock strikes midnight on the third Thursday of November, the new vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau, is released to the world! Over 60 million bottles make the trek to Paris for worldwide distribution. This is a young wine (only 6 weeks old), grown from the Gamay grape. It is very fruity, light-bodied, and virtually tannin-free making for an extremely easy-to-drink red wine. Like Coca-Cola, it is best served chilled. It is also very inexpensive, often retailing for under $10 a bottle. While Beaujolais is administratively considered part of the Burgundy wine region, the climate is closer to the Rhône and the wine is sufficiently individual in character to be considered separately from Burgundy and Rhône. The wine is not intended for aging and should be consumed within the first year of release. Some of the top producers of Beaujolais Nouveau include: Georges Duboeuf, Domaine Yvon Metras, Jean-Paul Thevenet, and Louis Jadot.
While I do think the Gamay grape is a perfect match for the Thanksgiving meal, I prefer the depth and purity of the Cru Beaujolais wines of the region to the fruity and listless Nouveau wines. These wines see more traditional fermentation and aging before release. They age very nicely for a decade or more. They are usually low in alcohol, pair beautifully with turkey and its trimmings and are in the $20 to $40 range. I always include one or two at our Thanksgiving meal. Some worth considering are:
2011 Michel Guignier Beaujolais Villages La Bonne Pioche. This is a beautifully made wine with pure earthy fruit and only 11.5% alcohol. It is an example of how well the Gamay grape can be when it is crafted by a top producer. $18.
2010 Michel Guignier Beaujolais Moulin a Vent Le Petit Osielle. Another wonderfully pure and delicious expression of the Gamay grape. $27.
2010 Jean Paul Brun Terres Dorees Morgon. 12% alcohol with a fresh and light palate, it has great purity, balance and a delicious finish. $25.
2011 Christian Ducroux Regnie. Delicious wine. Pure, clean fruit that dances on the tongue. An amazing wine for any price, but at $15, wow! wow! wow!
Chambers Street Wines in NYC has one of the most extensive and excellent selections of Cru Beaujolais that I know of.
I also find that Bourgogne or Villages level reds from Burgundy go well with the Thanksgiving meal. Much lighter and far less expensive than Premier Cru or Grand Cru Burgundy the current vintages are all drinking beautifully now. Here are a few worth considering:
2011 Joseph Drouhin Chorey Les Beaune Villages. Bright fruit, elegant palate and a soft finish…and all for $21 at Wine Legend, Livingston, NJ.
2010 Jean Michel Guillon Marsannay Clos de Portes. This small domaine in Gevrey Chambertin, produces wines of great pedigree. This wine has a gorgeous translucent red hue, and an enticing Burgundian nose. A bit light on the , it finishes with length and elegance. $45 at The Pluckemin Inn Wine Shop.
Joseph Roty, Domaine Coillot and Louis Jadot are also worth considering for these level wines.
Entry-level Nebbiolo wines are another good choice. Wines such as 2006 Roagna Langhe Rosso are simply fresh and delicious and drinking with an elegant simplicity at the moment, and thus would be welcomed at any Thanksgiving table. $30 at 56º Wine.
White wines such as dry Rieslings or un-oaked Chardonnays are also a good match to the meal. Here are some suggestions. I recently had some of these wines and will have some on our Thanksgiving table this year.
I have been trying wines from New York State, specifically the wines of Channing Daughters in Bridgehampton, NY. I am delighted to report that these represent some of the best value, high quality wines I have ever tasted. The two Chardonnays that I drank recently are 2011 Channing Daughters Scuttlehole Chardonnay ($18) and 2011 Channing Daughters Brick Kiln Chardonnay ($22). Had I tasted these wines blind, I would have thought I was drinking an estate (entry) level Chablis from a house like Dauvisat or Fevre. Both wines possessed a gorgeous translucent straw-colored hue; a clean crisp and soft fruity bouquet that is echoed on the palate. These are delicious, easy drinking wines, with a yummy finish that will have your guests refilling their glasses over and over. The wine is available directly from Channing Daughters Winery. They will happily deliver the wines to you.
A few weeks ago I picked up a few of bottles of 1999 Hexamer Meddersheimer Altenberg Riesling Spatlese at 56º Wine. This dry German Riesling is drinking beautifully. The glass showcases the wine’s stunning yellow hue. On the palate it is focused clean and pure, with beautifully balanced residual sugar and a monster finish. $50. While I did not try it yet, the 2001 Hexamer Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg Riesling Hochsgewachs at $30 I am told is the equal of the 1999.