As promised, Paul and I had a “friend-giving” potluck, where we invited over a bunch of friends for a pre-holiday dinner. The big draw for us: this was a chance to enjoy great Thanksgiving food without family drama. The big draw for you: we road-tested several wines that I think would go nicely with a variety of turkey feasts.
Some of these wines were guest gifts, and some I purchased myself. Overall, we were more successful with the reds. On the white front, one of my friends brought a 2007 Cloudline Pinot Gris, from Oregon. I’m a huge fan of Oregon Pinot Gris. I think they’re underrated, well-priced, and a good match for poultry and pork. On the nose, the Cloudline had the telltale smoky, mineral, and lemon/lime peel notes that make Pinot Gris such a stand-out. However, on the palate it was a little insipid and lacked heft — one of the advantages of Pinot Gris is its weight, as it tends to give pretty full-bodied wines. However, that pleasant weightiness was nowhere to be found here.
The 2007 Stringtown Pinot Noir also from Oregon — specifically, the Willamette Valley — was a happier choice. Earthy and medium-bodied, with clear fruit flavors of cranberry and strawberry, as well as some fresh herb flavors and, my hand to God, just a hint of cherry cola, it went perfectly with the brussel sprouts with bacon and cranberries and the pasilla chile rubbed turkey (shown above in its pre-cooked state and before we had to transfer it to a larger roasting pan.)
The 2008 Montinore Pinot Noir (again from Willamette Valley–apparently Oregon was looming large in our collective unconscious) was smokier, with hints of red currants and dried thyme. Those traits made it especially strong with the sausage stuffing and the carrots and parsnips roasted with bacon, maple syrup and yes, thyme.
While I didn’t tell my guests about my 14% alcohol and under Thanksgiving tip, they all happened to bring wine that fell under this threshold. Considering we started the festivities at 3:30 and the party didn’t break up until almost 9, I was very grateful for their restraint. It also made it that much easier to end the evening with a 2002 Trefethen Napa Late Harvest Riesling.
When my ship comes in, I will sip a glass of this honey/apricot/candied lemon peel delight every evening while sitting by the pool outside my quaint bungalow in St. Helena. In the meantime, I’ll savor the memory of drinking this wine in my subterranean Brooklyn apartment alongside some killer apple pie and with great friends — which is a lot to be thankful for.