|Carrying over Pete’s theme from last week – for Thanksgiving, drink what you like! Yes, the anything goes approach when choosing a wine for Thanksgiving is gaining strength even among wine writers and journalists. It is a relief to me that this new trend has emerged. If asked, I will share strong opinions as to what I think works best with turkey and all the trimmings, but I feel even stronger that at Thanksgiving, time should be spent on family and friends and not worrying about what wine to serve. It really only matters what you enjoy drinking and to understand your crowd. For years I was banging my head against the wall, trying to impress my food-loving, California wine-drinking family with the earthy, soil-driven red Burgundy I brought to share. With age and wisdom, I now know to grab a bottle of Zinfandel or Syrah from one of my favorite California producers to take home. Now we are all happy. So you see, relax and enjoy during this time of gratitude and reflection.
I have selected the following wines as viable options for the Thanksgiving table, that just also happen to be two top values from California. The quality that you get in the bottle far exceeds the price tag. They are not new to TWH and are probably familiar to many of you who read our newsletters, so without any further adieu welcome back in stock Lacuna and Juicy Villages!!!!
The 2011 is the third vintage from Lacuna. Unlike the 2010, which was heavily influenced by Petite Sirah, and more like the 2007, our Top Ten of 2010, the 2011 Lacuna has Syrah back in the driver’s seat. Leave it to winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson to source top quality fruit from various celebrated sites to blend together a perfect amalgamation of fruit, structure and perfume.
For the three original partners in Lacuna, who were already actively working in the wine business, the aesthetic behind creating Lacuna was all about the aromatics and the texture. The three, passionate about Old World wines, wanted to apply their palate preferences to domestic wine. It may be a marketing nightmare for the guys, but I appreciate how each vintage of Lacuna brings out a different expression of fruit all the while adhering to a strong point of view. The aromatics at this young stage are quite dramatic in the 2011 Lacuna; notes of bacon fat, berries and petals waft up out of the glass. Inside the bottle you will find 85% Syrah, sourced from several sites and some co-fermented with Viognier just like they do in Cote-Rotie, with the balance comprised of old-vine Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Carignan. The mouth-coating fruit is persuasive and energetic. Yes, I would bring this wine to Thanksgiving, but I would also love to see it alongside braised short ribs or a steaming bowl of Carbonnade. The 2011 Lacuna proves to me that ’07 and ’10 weren’t just flukes. The gorgeous Lacuna reds are moving from strength to strength.
Last year the 2011 Juicy Villages from Juicy Rebound made it to our list of Top Ten of 2012. It did not stay in stock for long. With only 100 cases produced, I expect the same to be true for the newly released 2012 Juicy Villages. Again it is a blend, but this vintage Syrah takes center stage with Grenache and Mourvedre cast in supporting roles. The Syrah and Grenache come from a vineyard in the Russian River Valley, while the Mourvedre comes from the legendary Evanghelo Vineyard in Contra Costa County. It is plush, dense and concentrated.Honestly, if you were to buy a wine of this quality from the majority of wineries out there, you could expect to pay 2-3 times more. So how do we get to be so lucky? It is one of those quirks in the wine industry; if you pay close enough attention though, this type of treasure can still be found. Let’s just say, I’m deeply thankful to be able to recommend a wine of such pedigree and pleasure at such an affordable price to TWH customers.
There is a classification of winemaker that I describe as “a winemaker’s winemaker”. Douglas Danielak is such a winemaker. He may not be a household name like Randall Grahm, but if you ask around, you will find the respect and admiration for Doug’s winemaking skills, tasting prowess and overall wine knowledge is universal. As proof, Morgan Twain-Peterson (see Lacuna above) last July tweeted, “My vote for most historically underrated winemaker would likely go to Doug Danielak,” along with a photo of a bottle of Juicy Rebound Grenache. So you see, it is not just my opinion!
|It probably comes as no surprise that I do love Thanksgiving! All you do is eat, and drink. Yes, I love the roasted turkey and the traditional sides, but I also love how this American holiday adapts to each individual household. At my husband’s Italian-American family, there will be a platter of ravioli and at my family’s Russian-American table there will be pickled mushrooms and peppers, some type of beet dish and this year, fresh roe my mother cured. I hope to make the rounds to see everyone (and to taste a bit of everything!). Wishing you and yours a bountiful Thanksgiving! – Anya Balistreri|