Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Thanksgiving Wine Under $20: My Picks for 2009

It's that time of year again, when people take to their computers in search of Thanksgiving wine recommendations. (vintage Thanksgiving image from an 1894 cover of Harper's Bazaar)

This is my fourth roundup of wines on GWU$20 that I think will pair beautifully with your turkey dinner--and they're all under $20. Whether you prefer sparkling, rosé , white, or red wine, I'm sure there's something here that will suit your palate and your budget. And I made sure that you could still get the wine I've listed below. We're all too busy to hunt out wine that's no longer available in the market!

If you are looking for general advice on Thanksgiving wine and hospitality, I'd encourage you to check out this article I wrote a few years ago on issues facing the host/hostess and the guests.

In the recommendations below, clicking on the wine's name and range of prices will take you to a list of retailers who stock the wine.

Sparkling Wines: I'm a big fan of sparkling wine, and they're good for more than just toasting to your family's good health before dinner. Given the wide range of flavors and the rich dishes on most holiday tables, sparkling wine is an excellent choice if you're looking for a wine that will take you from the first course of butternut squash soup to the apple pie you're having for dessert. And sparkling wine need not break the bank, as these suggestions show.

2006 Raventós i Blanc Cava L'Hereu Reserva Brut ($14-$25) This vintage Cava from Spain tasted very traditional, and had lots of complexity. Expect aromas and flavors of toasted bread, apple, and citrus.

N.V. Domaine des Roches Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé ($15-$20) A full-bodied, sophisticated sparkling rosé with aromas of mineral, dough, and strawberries. The dry flavors have underlying strawberry fruit and toast notes.

N.V. Mumm Napa Cuvée M ($12-$25) This Napa Valley sparkler is one of the most impressive under $20 bottlings I've had lately. Made in the sec style from Pinot Noir and late harvest Muscat, this wine has aromas of white chocolate, toasted bread, and strawberry. On the palate, there were layered flavors of white chocolate, rose petal, Meyer lemon, strawberry, and toast.

White Wines: If I'm not serving a sparkling wine I enjoy white wines with my turkey dinners. I find that the acidity of a white wine brings some much-needed refreshment to dinner, and they go well with the stuffing, creamed onions, and vegetables side dishes so common on Thanksgiving tables.

2008 I Stefanini Soave Il Selese ($9-$11) A beautiful, distinctive Italian wine with musk-melon aromas and some white floral and saline notes. On the tongue, there are flavors of white peach, lemon, and bitter almond with a juicy aftertaste

2007 Helfrich Pinot Gris (available for $9-$17) This Pinot Gris has oodles of personality and class with its aromas and flavors of smoke, grass, and apple with a mineral note in the aftertaste. If I was having duck, goose, or a smoked turkey this would be my choice in wine--and it will be a knockout with traditional oyster stuffing, too.

2008 Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($13-$20) If you've been looking for a domestic Sauvignon Blanc that can hold its head up among New Zealand bottlings, but has a bit more softness and is less assertive, you've found your wine--and a wine that will go beautifully with Thanksgiving dinner, too. Aromas of grass, hay, melon, and citrus, all of which are echoed in the flavors.

2008 Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery Chardonnay Unoaked Russian River Valley ($17-$20) with all that's already on your holiday table, who needs oak? This lovely bottle of wine is very restrained in style, with faint aromas of pear, mineral, and salt. The palate has light and fresh lemon and pear flavors, and the aftertaste is juicy and clean. An elegant choice for your Thanksgiving dinner.

2008 Weingut Gritsch Grüner Veltliner Mauritiushof Axpont Federspiel (around $18) A complicated, delicious wine that starts out with faint citrus aromas, followed up by honeyed lemon peel and lemon curd flavors, with notes of grass and pollen. Terrific with turkey!

Rosé Wines: Regular readers have heard me go on about this before but nothing--and I do mean nothing--is as good with a leftover turkey sandwich as a rosé wine. And, if you have some guests who prefer red and some who prefer white, you can probably please them all with these robust, dry and flavorful rosé wines at the big dinner, too.

2008 Robert Oatley Sangiovese Rosé ($12-$18)
A lovely rose, with fresh wild strawberry aromas and a hint of leafy greenness that keeps it from turning sappy in the flavors department. Excellent value, and excellent style that will please red wine drinkers.

2008 Domaine Sainte-Eugénie Corbières ($9-$12) Made from a robust blend of Cinsault and Syrah, this wine's lush cranberry and strawberry aromatics will have you thinking Thanksgiving no matter what time of year it is. The flavors are refreshing, with mineral notes and a fruity core that runs the spectrum from currants to cranberries.

2008 A to Z Wineworks Rosé Oregon ($9-$17) Another beautiful wine made with Sangiovese, here the emphasis is on crisp and refreshing with the dry aromas and flavors of raspberry, strawberry, parsley, and cucumber.

Red Wines: Many people prefer red wines with special dinners, but it is very easy to overwhelm a turkey dinner (and your guests!) with a heavy, high-alcohol wine. If I'm serving a red I tend to go with Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, or a traditional Zinfandel that is not too high in the alcohol department.

2005 Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Crianza ($7-$15) This is becoming an annual recommendation for me, as the consistent quality and friendly price-point of the Montecillo wines make it a reliable go-to bottle. Delectable aromas of leather, earth, herbs, and black cherry turn into juicy flavors that linger in the mouth. Will stand up to the most robust turkey and duck dishes, and will be particularly good with spicier side dishes.

2007 Sean Minor Pinot Noir Four Bears ($14-$16) Pinot Noir fans rejoice! This affordable example of a Carneros Pinot Noir has aromas of berry and sour cherry, and flavors of earth, clerry, and chalk held together by a silky texture. This will be a brilliant pairing with traditional Thanksgiving fare.

2006 Dry Creek Vineyard Zinfandel Heritage ($12-$19) Another annual pick, my gold standard in Zinfandel, with blackberry aromas and flavors and layers of black pepper and baking spice accenting the fruit. This Zinfandel is rich and spicy, but never heavy or overwhelming.

Full Disclosure: with the exception of the Cava, the Crémant de Bourgogne, and the A to Z Wineworks rosé, I received all these wines over the past 11 months as samples.


Anonymous said...

I see Rose's as a great option and have found Domaine Chandon Pinot Rose as one of the best. Seek it out and you will agree!

CChamberlain said...

I love that you've chosen the Weingut Gritsch Gruner Veltliner. Not only does it pair well with turkey, but will definitely enhance the plethora of vegetables usually found around the dinner table!

motionpeeks said...

i have see many variety and happy that all are available at very good prise thanks dude.i like it like my favorite cigaronline

David said...

I'd been going primarily with Pinot Noir for several years running, and was looking to mix it up last year. The 2006 Clayhouse Adobe Red Paso Robles ($17), an interesting blend of zin, syrah, petite syrah, and malbec, was probably the 1 I liked best in this experimenting. A cab franc turned out to be a not so good idea.

Mark said...

With turkey I'd typically think to serve a Pinot, simply because as you stated a lot of people associate red wine with nice dinners. A good, cold weather Pinot should not overwhelm the turkey either, plus it can still pair well with a ham if we have a large crowd.

Grape said...

Indeed, good wine can also be cheap. It's true, in most cases, wine of a good quality means being old, and old wine is always expensive, but this doesn't always apply, as you can easily see.

Anonymous said...

Any Prosecco in the sparkling? I think it's the best sparkling for the under20..

Anthony said...

You should add St. James Winery Velvet Red to the list. For 6.99 the wine is exceptional in my book.

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