Selections for November 2016

Pinot’s not the only turkey wine!

2014 BENESSERE SANGIOVESE – St. Helena, Napa Valley

There are precious few masters of Sangiovese in California.  Many took on the challenge and failed to succeed during our state’s “Cal-Ital” movement about twenty years ago.  One of the issues was the public’s misunderstanding of the varietal.  Sangiovese is a red-coloured middleweight, not a purple-hued heavyweight.  Eager to please the purple people, many California producers tried to confer more heft on Sangiovese with oak or blending, and lost “Sangiovese” in the process.  The consumer was left confused, and Sangiovese was abandoned by most producers.

That’s fine.  Now we’re down to the few who treat the grape with respect - resisting the urge to amplify - and the consumer can get used to the truer version.  Benessere has long been one of these honorers of Sangiovese and before you is their latest work. 

Remarkably-priced for grapes sourced from the Napa Valley’s heart, here is a brilliant addition to / replacement of the Pinot Noir you’d normally use at Thanksgiving.  This Sangiovese works with turkey because it is ISN’T overweight and applies a fruit sauce effect of red syrup to the feast.  By the furtive sip it may seem delicate, but by the gulped glassful I promise you:  You’ll recognize a perfect holiday wine!   

Yet another wine for the bird     

2013 BELLA ZINFANDEL – Sonoma County

By now you know our Zinfandel preference:  We like the kind you can actually drink.

- And Bella has been making that kind for as long as we can remember.  One look at their website convinces you these guys are successful with a varietal too often overdone:  Bella makes a myriad of different Zinfandel bottlings, mostly from individual vineyards.  To specialize in Zin these days you must show more balance and less monstrous fruit than the preferred oversized style of the past.  That’s Bella.

Sourced from both the Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys, this is their entry level Zinfandel.  Blackberries and brambles are elegantly expressed in the nose.  A refreshing juiciness conveys flavors of cherries, raspberries, and sweet leather.  These flavors are abundantly delivered, then know when to stop, preserving your desire to return for more. 

If the Sangiovese described above is indeed a great turkey wine, let’s get particular and devote it to the white meat.  This more purple wine would in turn fully cooperate with the dark meat of the same bird.  While I don’t expect your Thanksgiving feast to involve a scientific inquiry with multiple glasses before each lab-coated, wine-studying guest, I think you’ll find great pleasure in a more casual pairing of this Zin with all that happens on that food-crowded table.

Enjoy this successful, balanced Zinfandel and Happy Thanksgiving from TWS