Thanksgiving Wines: Orange wine, Petnat Prosecco, Fizzy Red
Gruner Veltliner, Chilean Pais
This year feels like it's been non stop and now Thanksgiving is in sight. Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays and I'm looking forward to really enjoying it and...maybe even taking a break! Here are some of the wines I'm particularly excited about this year.
Ceppaiolo Cepparosso 2020
You can find this at Treats, Maine and Loire, and Cafe Louis. Or of course you can order it from any wine store.
Ceppaiolo is Danilo Marcucci's little private wine project in a falling down building in Bastia: a suburban Umbrian town. He does all the work here himself, experiments, and makes wines that he wants to drink! He likes lighter energetic reds, think Jura and Touraine, so that's the direction these wines usually go. This red is a blend of Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Vernaccia Rossa, Nebbiolo di Gubbio, and Aleatico. He only has a couple acres of vines and only made one tank of this, but it's a pretty perfect red for Thanksgiving. It's bright and fruity, supple in the way of a nice red Burgundy, thirst quenching, and truly fun to drink. It's 12% alcohol which adds to the thirst quenching nature and maybe minimizes the likely hood of a "Thanksgiving incident" with a wacky relative. It's fruit driven and will please basic wine drinkers but is also super geeky (Nebbiolo di Gubbio!) for people who want to geek out on wine. Added bonus if you need a conversation piece this wine's back story can neatly fill any conversation lapses! Jut go check out the videos on my YouTube conveniently linked below!
Aroma: fresh tart cherry and strawberry along with some woodsmoke. Cranberries, a tiny bit of spice like basil or tomato leaf.... It's lively fresh vivid but also with some savory autumn aromas at the same time.
Taste: medium bodied, smooth, and with great focused energy. There's acidity that makes the wine energetic and focused. It's driven by this really lovely uplifting raspberry and wild cherry flavor. Then the finish has some nice tannin that dries your palate out a bit but it's not too much or sharp at all. It's an energetic dynamic tasting wine that's light on its feet. There's some salt on the mid palette that wakes my taste buds up and gets me salivating. The combination of that with the lighter body, the elegant integration and balance: make this a super thirst quenching serious red that will pair with Thanksgiving in the same sort of perfect way cranberry sauce does.
Forlorn Hope “Queen of the Sierra” Amber 2019
You can find the Queen of the Sierra at Folk in Kittery, Friends and Family in Portland, Maine Street Meats in Rockport, and the Rosemont Markets.
Orange wine may be hip at the moment, but well made orange wine that still has freshness to it is legitimately a good Thanksgiving pick. Allow me to introduce my orange wine Thanksgiving pick: Queen of the Sierra Amber. This is a great Thanksgiving wine because it's rich and deep and has the body and savory flavors to pair well with rich autumn foods. It has tannin (thanks skin contact) that will help it cut through grease and fat, but it's not oxidative or funky; it just has really delicious rich fruit flavors with a supporting savory dimension. I really think this is a perfect sort of "similar flavor compliment" to squash, sweet potato, and turkey.
The Amber is mostly a mix of Verdelho, Albarino, Muscat, and Chardonnay. All are organically farmed there on Rorick's estate vineyard. All the fruit was hand harvested and spontaneously fermented in open vats. Matthew and Danielle used a minimal number of gentle punchdowns or pump overs to try to avoid oxidization while still getting that complexity from skin contact. After that the wine was racked to 227L neutral oak barrels to age. No additives or manipulations were used aside from a small amount of sulfur at bottling.
Aroma: So much ripe peach! I also smell fresh-squeezed orange juice and baked rhubarb. It's a really lovely rich delicious smelling aroma!
Taste: wow, this is straight up delicious but also so interesting. This is a full-bodied wine but it's also very fresh and has lively acidity. The ripe juicy peach upfront is delicious and attention grabbing, but what makes the wine irresistible is this salty savory dimension right behind the fruit. The mid palate maintains the fruit but adds a little aromatic spicy hint that reminds me of fresh mint. More of that peach lingers on the finish. That peach flavor is so vivid and concentrated that it tastes like the flavor of a peach Jolly Rancher!
Forlorn Hope was created by Matthew Rorick in 2005. Matthew grew up with an appreciation of good wine thanks to his grandfather and decided to pursue his love of expressive personal wines by starting his own winery. After a stint in the Navy Matthew had lots of gumption but couldn't afford to buy anything. So he rented wine making space and then went on the hunt for unusual unloved grape varieties that bored farmers in moments of weakness had planted in forgotten vineyard corners. He began crisscrossing CA looking for Verdelho, Barbera, and Trousseau. He named the project Forlorn Hope with the expectation it would fail. But.... it didn't. He was making delicious exciting wines and people got excited. His wines caught on so much so that he was eventually able to buy a 75 acre property in Calaveras county on limestone and slate ridges planted by wine luminary Barden Stevenot back in the 60s. Danielle Shehab (formerly of Portland ME) joined as operations manager and the project has taken off for the stratosphere. All the fruit for their wines comes from the Rorick Heritage Estate and now that Matthew doesn't have to spend 6 hours driving between vineyard sites it has allowed him to create a range of new wines....including this Queen of the Sierra Amber.
Cellario Il Barrusco 2020
You can find this at Nina June, Hearth and Harbor on MDI, Hops and Vine, Riverside Butcher, Leeward, and the Cheese Shop of Portland
You have to have fizzy red for Thanksgiving! At least I do! This is playful bright full on red wine that's fruity and expressive. It's not heavy though and the vey fine fizz does an excellent job of cleaning your palate and refreshing you as you work through all the heavy hearty Thanksgiving food. And the fizz will help give you a little pick me up and rally for a post meal walk!
Barrusco is made by the super energetic Fausto Cellario. His family has been here in the north western Langhe for longer than they know and he grew up in wineries of his father and uncles. Meeting him it's very clear that he loves what he does. He loves it so much he can't stop tinkering and trying to get better and better and making natural wine. There's a real joy that's been evident every time I've seen him and he can't stop talking about some new blend or pressing technique he's trying out. I really value that and it's been cool to see his wines evolve!
The Barrusco is a blend of Neretta (local grape with dark purple color) Barbera, and Dolcetto. The juice ferments in stainless steel and is then bottled with some juice from grapes that Fausto late harvests and dries. That grape juice does the refermentation in the bottles and then Fausto releases the wine with out opening the bottles again, so this is 0 sulfur and no disgorgement.
Aroma: Cherries! Crushed cherries in your face! And raspberries! Wow, super fresh vital vivid aroma! Also just a bit musky like grape clusters literally crushed in front of you with the stems and all
Taste: fun fresh tart raspberry and wild cherry up front, then the addition of a bit of blue fruit on the mid palate. The bubbles are just a prickle playing across the breadth of the wine. The prickly fizziness actually basically is the wine's structure and gives it focus. Once you peel back the fizz you can taste this light cherry that runs all the way through the wine and actually gets really elegant on the finish. There's no tannin here, just fresh vibrant young cherry fruit that ends on an elegant uplifting note.
Mongarda Col Fondo Prosecco
You can find the Mongarda at Vessel and Vine, Hops and Vine, Bow St Beverage, and Nibblesford Cheese in Biddeford.
Mongarda is a little family winery up in the area of Valdonbbiadene in the heart of Prosecco. The family has 10 hectares of vines and 3 hectares of woods on steep rocky hilly land. This wine comes from a single vineyard that was planted in the 50s, making them extremely old and rare for this region. This is 95% Glera with 5% other local blending grape varieties that are co-planted in the vineyards and fermented along with the Glera. Martino, the second generation of the Tormena family here, ferments this dry in tank and than at bottling adds a portion of the original juice that was held back so that it referments in the bottle. It is not disgorged so it's sort of Ancestral method, a bit cloudy, but quite clean. The bubbles are very fine and frothy like a bottle conditioned ale. It's a fun playful easy drinking wine that is interesting enough for wine people but will also please someone who just wants a thirst quenching fizzy white. It's basically what Prosecco should be... but almost never is. That freshness, 11% alcohol, and fine creamy bubbles are why I want to drink this for Thanksgiving. Honestly, Champagne is great, but it's pretty racy and high acid. Racy high acid isn't really what I want for Thanksgiving, it feels too intense. This is thirst quenching, but strikes the right balance with softness.
Aroma: white peach, apple blossom, Granny Smith, toasted baguette, lemon, fresh croissant. So very pretty and light; all flowers and spring time and fun
Taste: fresh lemon, tart Granny Smith, very fine froth on the mid palate then white peach followed by a little bit of toast on the finish. The bubbles are so tiny and fine and creamy: like a bottle conditioned beer. It's so clean and uplifting. It's extremely refreshing and easy going but those bubbles will allow it to pair with turkey and other rich savory Thanksgiving foods.
Sonnhof Social Club Gruner Veltliner
You can find the Sonnhof at Vessel and Vine, Hops and Vine, Bath Natural Foods, the Rosemont Markets, Lorne, Meridians, Perks Beer and Beverage, Monte's Fine Foods, The Blue Hill Co-op, The Blue Hill Wine Shop, and Riverside Butcher in Damariscotta
One of the white varieties I gravitate to for Thanksgiving is Gruner Veltliner; it's generally the right profile of flavors and weight to pair with Thanksgiving dinner. This litre bottle from the Sonnhof Social club is perfect for Thanksgiving! It has that touch of spice on the midpalate that I love about Gruner and while it has some body and ripeness it's a fresh thirst quenching wine. It's that balance of weight and freshness that makes me choose this for Thanksgiving, along with the fact this is a litre bottle and having some extra wine on hand for Thanksgiving is always a good idea.
This is made by Jurtschitsch, the oldest winery in the Kamptal that then converted to organic and biodynamic agriculture 10 years ago when Alwin and Stefanie took over. Jurtschitsch has a reputation now as one of the most exciting wineries in Austria and their elegant light skin contact wines are in high demand (also great for Thanksgiving). This more affordable 1L bottle of Gruner is made with organic hand harvested grapes from their own vineyards plus the vineyards of 3 friends who also work organically.
Aroma: wow, exciting aromas of lemon lime, gooseberry, quince... it's sort of briny smelling like the ocean too. It smells so vibrant, fresh, and green!
Taste: vivid juicy and tart lime up front then a little bit of pepper. The mid palate has more ripe fruit and flesh to it; this is medium bodied and very clean but with some heat like grilled shishito pepper. There's a zippy flavor on the mid palate and finish... sort of aromatic like lemon grass? That grassy citrus flavor lingers through the finish and makes the wine super refreshing!
Roberto Henriquez Santa Cruz de Coya
You can special order this from any wine shop or find it at Maine Street Meats, The Cheese Shop of Portland, Vessel and Vine, Hops and Vine, and Maine and Loire
Roberto Henriquez is down in southern Chile in Bio Bio. This is a small region 350 miles south of Santiago in a place that's so rural it's hard to explain to people here who are used to public water, paved roads, and high speed internet. But it's an amazing place to grow grapes because the coastal mountain range that shields most of Chile from the Pacific ends here so the vineyards are much more exposed to cold oceanic air. Also the vines here are Pais: a local variety that thrives in the climate and many are 200 or more years old. Seriously, this vinifera variety evolved from varieties brought hundreds of years ago by the Spanish and is so well suited they go wild and grow up trees. This is sort of Roberto's flagship red. The grapes get macerated a bit through a destemmer and then have a short skin contact and primary fermentation in open vats. Pais is always a lighter red, but Roberto is exceptionally talented at making focused fresh vibrant reds. He spent some time making wine in Anjou in the central Loire with Agnes and Rene Mosse; you can taste a bit of Loire red influence in this. The soil here is gritty granular decayed bits of red granite and the wine somehow has that character of tight granular grippyness behind the fresh compelling red fruit. It's not heavy and not tannic, but the precise structure will offset the savory rich flavors of Thanksgiving. This is a bit more structured than the other reds on this list.
The aroma is ripe raspberry, cherry, blackberry....and also a hint of cooked rhubarb. And there's that hint of smoke too. It's super racy and vivid with fresh tart concentrated red fruit.
The taste is so juicy, richer, more blackberry, brambley and some lovely plum in the finish. This has some angular acidic and tannic structure, but it's bright, lively, and playful. It is more juicy and fruity, more of a vivid expressive punch of fruit right in the front of your palate. This is fresh and has uplifting acidity, but also a riot of vivid juicy ripe fruit. Absolutely delicious!
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