Thanksgiving is over, sadly, but we still have leftovers! Well, we still have leftover food. The wine is pretty much gone. Down the gullet, as they say. Great food and great wine, but how did they match? Darn well, I’d say. I’m happy with the wine choices made for this years meal – which was a little challenging given our non-traditional approach; Evan stuffed the turkey with hominy and chorizo, and spiced the cranberry’s with chile pepper.
We started the day with a cocktail – my new favorite, the Frisco. Rye, Benedictine, and fresh lemon combine to make a refreshing cocktail with enough heat to warm guests coming in from the cold. And, I get to use some of our other barware!
I think I may have hurried the guests through the cocktail a little quickly… I was ready to move on to the wine and cheese.
Our cheese plate had a lot of really strong flavors. The washed-rind French Munster, in particular, was quite stinky and strong – but oh-so-good! We also had a super-creamy roquefort, and an aged goat’s milk cheese. The robust flavors of the cheeses, along with the high fat-content of the cheese and a cognac -drenched pate de canard, demanded a potent wine with hefty flavors of its own. Fortunately, we had the right wine for the job: Vinoterra Saperavi 2009, from the Republic of Georgia. Saperavi is native to Georgia, known for its cold tolerance and high levels of acidity and tannin; the latter is enhanced by phenolics present in the skin and pulp of the grape. The same pulp phenolics make Saperavi well-known for its deep color – apparently the word means “paint” or “dye” in the Georgian tongue, and this wine has a deep, beautiful, ruby/garnet color. The acid is also apparent, as is a heavy dose of tannin – attributes perfect for our cheese plate. Flavors of ripe, dark cherry, wild herbs and violets, and tobacco. Not only was the wine tasty, but it complemented our group very well. Wine pre-history likely begins in the Caucasus, and Vinoterra draws on that ancient history by using Qvevri – earthenware vats coated with beeswax on the interior – to ferment the grapes into wine.
Next up, Turkey!
We went with traditional foods (turkey, stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes), but used some “different” ingredients like hominy and smoked red-pepper. The results were spicier than is typical for Thanksgiving. Still, we opted for “traditional” wines – lighter-bodied, higher-acid reds.
We first opened Domaine Patrick Bottex “La Cueille” Bugey-Cerdon NV. Cerdon is a sparkling-wine only cru within the A.O.C. appellation of Bugey, a relatively unknown French region amid the Savoie, the Jura, Burgundy, and the Rhône. The wine is a sparkling Gamay (with a touch of Poulsard) made in the méthode ancestrale; unlike the méthode champenoise – which this likely predates – dosage is not permitted.
The wine was a fantastic addition to the meal. It has a pleasant, red apple and rutabaga flavor with a bit of sweetness that tempered the spice in many of the dishes, and the acid and bubbles were perfect with the buttery, mashed potatoes, and light, vegetal flavors in the wine complemented the overall earthiness of the meal.
This being Thanksgiving, the meal lasted beyond the Bugey-Cerdon. So, we stayed with a similar vein of wine and opened a beautiful wine from the Loire – Grolleau from Olivier Cousin. The Grolleau is not sparkling, but it is lighter-bodied, higher in acid, and earthy. It has a great, funky nose and a dusting of chalk. The body and the flavors were really superb with the meal – including a salted-caramel and chocolate dessert. However, we did bring out the scotch and grappa for that…