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Friday, November 25, 2011


I’ve heard it’s proper to drink American wines on American holidays - however I haven’t had an American wine on any of the American holidays recently, although I do enjoy my share of American wine.  Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Columbus Day - no American wines were on the menu.  And Thanksgiving dinner yesterday was no different.  I believe in drinking what you want, when you want it - provided it’s good quality and it pairs properly with the food being served.  I consider myself patriotic in every area except food and wine, particularly with wine - I strongly prefer Old World wines.  So for yesterday’s Thanksgiving dinner, the wine selections were all French.

After taking a vote in our family a few weeks back as to what would be the Champagne for this holiday, we decided on Bollinger Special Cuvee, which was as lovely as expected.  The wine is bright and shows some characteristics of citrus and crisp green apple as well as baked apple, but really exhibits bigger notes of nut and spice and some baked bread, which is exactly the way I love a Champagne to be.  The texture is luxurious, with fine bubbles and a creamy feel, and it was a perfect start to our family Thanksgiving celebration.
The white I chose was the 2009 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling from Alsace.  I’m already a big fan of Alsace whites; I find them fascinating and exciting but not nearly to the point of being flamboyant.  In fact, some of the wines I respect the most are the ones that manage to grab my attention, but in the most mysterious ways.  This wine was a good example of what an Alsace Riesling should be, at least in my opinion.  A fairly light golden color with almost no water rim, the wine is still very young, and shows somewhat restrained characteristics of citrus including lime and grapefruit, orchard fruit, and some tropical notes, followed by a hint of spice and waxiness, and rather a long finish.  Lately I’ve come across some frivolous Rieslings that are off-balance and almost silly with their excessive fruit, almost as if they’re wearing too much makeup.  This wine was such a welcome change - it’s a very serious Alsace Riesling and was excellent with our dinner.
I knew I’d be choosing a Pinot Noir, preferably French, but gave a lot of thought to the decision, and after looking through quite a few red Burgundies, I selected the 2009 Domaine Besson Givry 1er Cru Les Grands Pretans.  Most of the Pinot Noir enjoyed by my family is American, particularly Oregon and Russian River Valley.  But I wanted something different and I could not have asked for a better pairing with Thanksgiving dinner.  The wine is a lovely ruby color, youthful but very enjoyable with characteristics of mostly cherry and berry, particularly tart cranberry and a bit of raspberry to soften the fruit, a hint of spice, and that “roasted meat” characteristic that I love so much in some red wines, that makes it just a bit rustic and perfectly food-friendly.  The wine feels so clean, with wonderful acidity and just a bit of soft texture, and a nice finish.  I was so happy with the wines for the evening.
And tonight - perhaps an American Chardonnay at last?


  1. That 2009 Domaine Besson Givry 1er Cru sounds absolutely perfect Jac!
    I think the relatively lighter body and pronounced red berry tartness compared to most Oregon and Cali pinots catches many people off guard that are unfamiliar with the delicacy of Burgundy.
    Great post btw - thanks for sharing these wines with us!


  2. I’ve actually been told that the Besson really isn’t for the American palate since it’s so different from the American Pinots, and it really is a better match for more dishes (and we know Thanksgiving has so many different dishes to work with!), it was a better match than last year’s Benton Lane. While I really enjoy Benton Lane, I prefer it for sipping, but Besson I prefer for pairing.