Two Thanksgiving Wines

Thanksgiving is next week! I can hardly believe it. Kevin and I celebrated early with his family and my parents since everyone will be all over the place this year. I always like setting a pretty table and using our wedding crystal! In case you missed it, last week I put out a little Thanksgiving Wine Guide to help with pairing options. This week, I actually have two specific recommendations (a white and a red) that I think would be great accompaniments to your Thanksgiving dinner, assuming it's a traditional one. Both are from the United States, too!

Acrobat Pinot Gris

In my guide, I stated that a Chardonnay was a classic pairing. However, when I was researching pairings, I saw several references to Pinot Gris as well. I'd never bought a Pinot Gris before, so I was excited to give it a whirl this year. First, you may be thinking, what is Pinot Gris? Pinot Gris is more commonly known as Pinot Grigio! Same grape, just different name and different styles. This article from Wine Spectator describes it very well, but the short hand is that Pinot Gris is usually richer and creamier while Pinot Grigio is crisp and clean. 

Acrobat Pinot Gris.jpg

The Facts

  • Producer: King Estate
  • Region: Oregon
  • Vintage: 2015
  • Variety: Pinot Gris
  • Where I purchased: Whole Foods
  • Price: $14.99 

The wine is a dusty, pale gold color. Even from the beginning, it looked slightly different from the Pinot Grigios I have had in the past! The wine smells of peach, lemon, and something tropical... pineapple, perhaps. It is very pleasant to drink! It's got a nice, balanced acidity. It cleans your palate without it being so mouth puckering (like a Sauvignon Blanc, for example). My mom, who has an aversion to a lot of acid, even liked this one! I got the taste of apple and pineapple, but there was also a creaminess of texture. No oak or vanilla, in my opinion, but the texture was definitely there. This would go so well with the all of the creaminess at Thanksgiving dinner (hello, gravy and mashed potatoes!). Finally, it should be noted that it was a Wine Enthusiast 2016 Best Buy pick, and received 91 points from them. I don't always live by point ratings, but I'd have to agree with their opinion on this one!

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Samuel Robert Winery Vintner's Reserve Pinot Noir

If you read my review of the Ropiteau Pinot Noir, you know I'm skeptical of inexpensive Pinots. That doesn't mean I'll stop trying because just like with Cabernet Sauvignons, I'm on the hunt for delicious and affordable options. I saw this Samuel Robert Pinot at Total Wine, it had a good rating from Wine Enthusaist, it was on sale, and it was a pick of one of the staff members. I was sold!

Samual Robert Pinot.jpg

The Facts

  • Producer: Samuel Robert Winery
  • Region: Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • Vintage: 2015
  • Variety: Pinot Noir
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $14.99 

I was extremely surprised by the nose. It smelled so complex for only $12.99 (I got it on sale, and I think it still is)! There was cherry, of course, but also some cinnamon and a hint of earthiness or decaying leaves. "Decaying leaves" doesn't sound good when reading it, but you know that smell of fall? I personally love it. When I tried the wine, it was less bold in flavor than I expected based on how the wine smelled. The spice was missing on the palate, but there was some good cherry and cranberry flavor. The fruit flavor and acid was well balanced, not being jammy or too thin. If you can catch this on sale at your local Total Wine with a coupon or in-store promotion, it is definitely a great bang for your buck! Even at its full price of $14.99, I think it's a great value. I really enjoyed my small tasting glass and am looking forward to opening the full bottle later! For now, this is the best Pinot Noir I've had recently for less than $20, so I'm giving it four bunches.

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Tasting Notes: Ramey Chardonnay

Kevin bought this bottle one day after we had one of our favorite Chardonnays from a pricier winery. We love a good, crisp Chardonnay, but don't always want to spend top dollar. Now the Ramey isn't "every day" either, but it's at least significantly less and can be found easily! We had also tried out some other Ramey wines and enjoyed them, so choosing this label wasn't a total gamble.

The Facts

  • Producer: Ramey Wine Cellars
  • Region: Russian River Valley, CA
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Variety: Chardonnay
  • Where I purchased: Unknown, but it is sold at Total Wine.
  • Price: $33.99
Ramey Chardonnay 2
  • Eyes: The wine is a light, yellow-golden color. The picture above actually does a good job of accurately showing the color we saw in person. It was very pretty, and it definitely made me think it'd have a little more body than some of the other whites we've been having recently. It wasn't as dark as I expected it to be which made me hope it wouldn't be overly oaked.
     
  • Nose: This wine smells lovely! The main aroma that I caught was apple, which I love in wines, but there was also some other stone fruit -- pear, specifically. 
     
  • Mouth: The wine tasted of apple, but I actually got some tropical fruit in there like pineapple. I also found this wine to be tart, acidic, and have some mineral notes to it. I was a little surprised given this wine is oak aged and has gone through malolactic fermentation ("MLF"), but it was a good surprise since I tend to shy away from buttery and creamy Chardonnay. I suppose I shouldn't have been that thrown off given the fruit flavors present... green apples are tart and pineapple is acidic! 
     
  • Thoughts: I was actually really pleased with this Chardonnay! I was a little worried given the MLF, but I really didn't pick up on much vanilla/oak characteristics as I would have expected. I don't know if that was a vintage thing or if it that will hold true if we give other years a try. The flavors and acidity were overall very pleasant to drink, especially on a warmer evening. It also paired very well with our dinner, which was a recipe called Halibut Olympia. You can find variations of that recipe online, but here's the one we make from my dad. Since it's so easy and it paired wonderfully with this Chardonnay, I thought I'd go ahead and share with you all!

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