Best Thanksgiving wines (or at least, what me and Tracie B will be drinking)

November 16, 2009

Above: Tracie B and I held an informal wine tasting last night with our friends CJ and Jen, who made some excellent pulled pork for dinner (photos by CJ).

It’s that time of year again and everyone’s doing their “Best Thanksgiving Wines” posts. So I figured I’d do mine. Seems like there’s more humor and a greater twang of irony this year in the otherwise traditionally Hallmark consumerist spirit. Maybe ’cause everyone is so broke (or at least I am), it feels like you’re reaching beyond the perfunctory when you compile these lists. It does occur to me that we in the U.S. of A are probably the only folks who believe in these “best” and “top” lists. I just can’t imagine Franco writing a “Top Ten Christmas” wine list. Can you?

My favorite top Thanksgiving wine post so far was authored by Saignée, “I Feel Obligated to Do a ‘Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Post’” (it’s worth checking out but it also sports a NC-17 rating).

Above: The only wine that exceeded my $20-or-under-rule for this year’s holiday was the 2007 Bucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Iesi, which you should be able to find for under $30. Man, I love that wine.

The Solomon of wine writing and blogging, Eric, poked some fun (or at least, I read it that way) at the Grey Lady’s perennial Thanksgiving suggestions (marked this year by the absence of Frank Bruni) in his post “Six Years of Thanksgiving Wisdom.” I love the wine that Eric brought to the paper’s Thanksgiving tasting, a Frappato by Valle dell’Acate (Sicily). I also love the new wine descriptor, coined and used by Eric to describe it, and I love that it made it past the paper’s grammarians: “earthy chuggability.”

And lest he think that I’ve forgotten him, I got a genuine chuckle and chortle out of Strappo’s “THANKSGIVING WINE STUNNER: EXPERTS CLAIM RED OR WHITE OK!”

This year, Tracie B and I will be heading to Orange, Texas, just like last year, but this year, we’ll also be bringing Mamma Judy with us — her first visit to Texas since I moved here last year. Mrs. B and Rev. B are expecting 24 people at this year’s festivities. Since finances are tight for this fiancé (especially in view of our upcoming nuptials), I tried to keep my wines under $20 (and, for the most part, I succeeded on that part, as they say in the south).

Bucci 2007 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi
($22.99 at Jimmy’s in Dallas)

CJ and I really dug the crunchy mouthfeel of this wine and its elegant, lingering finish. The acidity was “tongue splitting,” as Tracie B likes to say.

Domaine Fontsainte 2008 Corbières Gris di Gris
(rosé, $17.50 at The Austin Wine Merchant)

We all agreed that the fruit in this wine was approachable and fun, juicy and tangy. This could go with just about anything at the Thanksgiving table.

Marchesi di Gresy 2007 Dolcetto d’Alba Monte Aribaldo
($18.75 at The Austin Wine Merchant)

I just can’t believe what a value this wine is at under-$20. It’s rich and chewy, surprisingly tannic, and has that noble rusticity that you find in the Marchesi di Gresy.

Mas Lavail 2007 Terre d’Ardoise Carignan
($11.25 at The Austin Wine Merchant)

Tracie B called this “salty” wine “the stand alone” wine of the flight we tasted with Jen and CJ. The price-quality ratio here is stellar (at $11.25? HELL YEAH!) and the wine is chewy, rich, with dark fruit and lots of savory flavors. I can’t wait to pair it with Tracie B’s Meemaw’s deviled eggs and Mrs. B’s sweet potato pie.

AND HERE IT IS, THE MOMENT YA’LL HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR… MY NUMBER 1 THANKSGIVING WINE FOR 2009!!!

Selvapiana 2007 Chianti Rufina
($16.25 at The Austin Wine Merchant)

Selvapiana is one of my all-time favorite producers (one of Franco’s favs, too) and Rufina is one of the greatest expressions of Sangiovese. This wine is tannic and will benefit from a little aeration before serving but once it opens up it’s all about bright acidity and plum fruit flavors. The price range will vary for this wine across the country but it’s always a tremendous value.

Thanks for reading ya’ll! I’m wishing you a great (and safe) holiday with your loved ones.

In other news…

I had a blast pouring and talking about wine and pairing European and domestic wines with Asian food at the Saheli “Discover Asia through Wine” event on Saturday night. The Tandoori chicken (above) was one of the hits of the evening, as was the Selvapiana Chianti Rufina, which I paired with the Chinese roast duck. Donations support battered Asian women and immigrants in the greater Austin area.

In other other news…

I’ll be pouring wines from Piedmont and Tuscany this Thursday at the Galleria Tennis and Athletic Club in Houston. Click here for details.


Italian wine: the price is right (and catching up on my reading)

February 13, 2009

It wasn’t easy to get online where Tracie B and I were staying last week in Paris: there was no wireless in Céline’s father’s fourth-floor studio on the Left Bank in the 6th and I am only now catching up on my blog and newspaper reading. (I don’t know: a week’s stay in a private apartment in Paris two doors down from the Seine or wifi? I’ll take what’s behind door number 1, Bob.)

I was thrilled to see Eric’s article on Italian Unknowns in The Times. I am a huge fan of Valle dell’Acate’s wines and was so glad to see the winery get the attention it deserves. The Cerasuolo di Vittoria is one of my favorite Sicilian wines — regardless of price.

Now more than ever, Italian wines represent the greatest value for their quality on the market today. I don’t know why Eric second-guessed himself, wondering out loud if “Italian wine buffs will easily cite omissions.” In my view, his picks are right on the money and the price is right.

Back in the blogosphere, Italian Wine Guy continues to blow my mind with how he pushes the envelope of wine blogging. I really dug his use of images from the Pasolini 1961 classic Accattone, set in the tough neighborhoods of Rome (that’s star Franco Citti, above), one of my favorite films of all time. His introspective “Beatrice interviews” offer unique perspective and insight into the world of Italian wine.

I just couldn’t resist Simona’s culinary anamorphism in this post on a traditional dish of her native Umbria, torciglione (above). Whether chopped liver in the form of the Twin Towers (2nd Ave. Deli) or a Renaissance-era depiction of the tower of Cremona to commemorate a noble wedding (Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti, 1441), I am a sucker for food fashioned to resemble something else.

I can’t read Vinograf’s blog (it’s written in Czech) but I often find myself staring aimlessly at it. I know its author and I share an affinity for some of the same wines and it’s one of the most visually interesting blogs in my GoogleReader.

Buona lettura (or buona visione, as the case may be)!


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