The 2005 Nahe Kreuznacher Kronenberg Riesling Spätlese was the third white selected for this past Thanksgiving, and made the cut because of the price ($17) and the distinct flavor profile I’ve come to expect from this maker. It’s a good value, and demonstrates why this varietal deserves more popular recognition than it receives. The nose features nice peach notes, mineral and soft floral notes, with a mouthfeel showing mild acidity and apple fruit, with hints of figs. Finishes well, and has reasonable balance. Also a QmP wine. Pairs with baked turkey or glazed ham.
“Go into the woods after a rain, and try to describe that smell.” These are the words of an Austrian winemaker, Willi Bründlmayer, and I think they also apply to this wine, the Weingut Schieler Spätlese Trocken 2003, a German Chardonnay with one of the most fascinating characters I’ve encountered in this varietal. Just try it; I’ll let it remain mostly a mystery. A nose featuring citrus with a zingy effervescence, and a mouthfeel showing bright notes of apple and pear. Not much oak, but balanced acidity buttresses the fruit. $25 a bottle.
It’s really quite easy to buy delicious California red wine for under $20. Here’s one way: get a case of McManis Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, fermented in stainless steel tanks and then aged in new and used French and American oak. The nose features aromas of blackberry and hints of clove and mocha, followed by a mouthful of rich black fruits, like blackcurrant and plum. This is accompanied by strong hints of chocolate, heavy toasted oak supported by potent tannins, and a lingering finish. Dense, round, huge. As Emeril Lagasse would put it, bam! Buy it. $15 a bottle; one of the great barbecue wines.
For another excellent Thanksgiving white wine, I turned to the 2004 Karl Erbes Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese, from the village of Erden, in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region. This is a QmP wine, and really exceptional, transparent and delicate, yet possessed of a racy acidity. The nose shows concentrated citrus and mineral aromas, while the mouthfeel is soft and full of peaches and honeydew melon, along with exotic fruit and floral notes. Finishes long and elegantly, with classic Riesling flair. $16 a bottle. Quaff this down with heaping plates of turkey and potatoes, and buttered asparagus.
The 2006 Seebrich Niersteiner Oelberg Riesling Spätlese is two kinds of mouthful. Seebrich, a family estate in the Rheinhessen region, was founded in 1783, and has been run by successive sons ever since. I loved its soft fruity nose, followed by delicate notes of peaches and mild, elegant acidity in the mouth. It was a little sweeter than I expected. Golden straw color in the glass. All in all, it proved a basic Thanksgiving wine, and in any vintage is probably not meant for aging. About $15 per bottle. Pairs well with baked turkey or ham.
A modest, yet delicious estate-bottled Beaujolais, the 2006 Morgon Château de Pizay has a nose dominated by fairly intense blackberries and cherries, a silky palate with extremely gentle tannins, and notes of strawberry, raspberry, apricots and some earthiness. These combine to present a classic Morgon flavor profile. Beaujolais, located in Burgundy, is made from the Gamay grape, and enjoys a strong cult following. It is worth noting that this is not the same as the Beaujolais Nouveau that comes into our country every year. That is junk, plonk, and not meant to be tasted by serious wine drinkers. Morgon is one of the ten Cru level Beaujolais, the top of the wine-producing hierarchy in this region. Another I’ve tasted is a Brouilly, the Château de La Chaize. Château de Pizay was founded in the 14th Century, making it an extremely old site. About $15 a bottle. It’s an outstanding value, good for cheerful entertaining, and pairs well with poultry or hearty stews.
For an example of what the Napa Valley can really produce in reds, look no further than the Joseph Carr Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. Although it’s labeled as a varietal, it’s actually a Bordeaux-style blend, comprised of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 2.5% Cabernet Franc, and 2.5% Syrah.The vintage I tasted, the 2005, was utterly delicious. Strong notes of cherry, plum and leather on the nose, with a touch of cedar and smoke, featuring more black fruits and chocolate in the mouth, balanced to fine-grained tannins. Excellent structure and intensity, and it finished long, hinting at cinnamon. It blew me away, and it’ll blow you away too. $20 a bottle.