October 6, 2016
Today on CTV Morning Live, CTV’s Lianne Laing and Sommelier Matt Steeves showcased a portfolio of wines that would be great with your Thanksgiving meals. Here’s the video: CTV Thanksgiving Wine Segment
In the lead up to Thanksgiving I’m often asked what wine(s) I’d recommend pairing with traditional Thanksgiving meals. Now the concept of ‘traditional’ means different things for each of us depending on what your traditions were growing up, where you celebrated Thanksgiving, either in North America or abroad, and what kinds of meals you typically enjoyed during that autumn ritual. For me, as a born and raised Canadian, the standard meals were plentiful and delicious, and typically consisted of: roasted poultry, root vegetables and other autumn harvest veggies, potatoes, cranberry sauce, etc., with roast beef or game birds rotated in every few years to keep things interesting. Others I know speak of what I consider awesome but not necessarily ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving meals from fancy cranberry pecan stuffed porkchops, Big Green Egg smoked prime rib, maple braised pork belly, sausage stuffed butternut squash, beef short ribs, beer braised rabbit, the list goes on…point being not everyone has a ‘traditional’ turkey dinner nowadays so in order to suggest a great pairing I like to ask exactly what they’re planning on cooking to ensure the wine is well suited for the meal and the sauces they’ll be enjoying with it.
The classic pairings of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Riesling are good initial choices for a turkey dinner (depending on the sauces and vegetables planned for the meal of course), with Pinot Noir complementing tart cranberry and not-too-sweet root vegetables quite well. Dry-ish to off-dry Riesling is super versatile and often one of my top picks for those that like a white wine and plan on having some sweeter sauces with their meals or those sweet butternut squash sides, as you always want a wine to be sweeter than the meal to ensure your wine doesn’t taste sour or bitter. Chardonnay, is great with creamy potatoes, light gravy on roasted turkey, baked break, etc., so I never shy away from a nice Chardonnay this time of year either. When we get into the not so ‘traditional’ meals, and even for the traditional turkey dinner, there are practically an unlimited number of options of wines to choose from whether a person likes white, rosé, light reds or hearty big reds. You name it there’s a wine for every personal preference and unique meal this Thanksgiving.
Two tips to remember are: 1) always ensure the wine you’re serving is sweeter than the food you’re enjoying it with (imagine sweet and tangy cranberry sauce paired with an off-dry Riesling or Pinot Gris); and 2) when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, I recommend putting a few different wines (and glasses) out on the table, this way your guests will have at least one wine they especially enjoy and one (or two or three) that complement components of your meal beautifully.
As seen on CTV Morning Live we showed a nice line-up of Thanksgiving suitable wines from sparking wine, white, rose, light red, and big bold reds – and the best part, they’re all terrific this time of year and we’ve got you covered for pretty much whatever you whip up this Thanksgiving long weekend.
So here’s the list of wines we showcased today:
- Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc 2014, Napa Valley, California – $22.95
- Robert Oatley Chardonnay 2014, Australia – $18.95
- 13th Street Winery June’s Vineyard Riesling 2013, Ontario – $19.95
- Inniskillin Late Autumn Harvest Riesling 2014, Ontario – $13.25
- Kim Crawford Rosé 2015, New Zealand – $17.95
- Meiomi Pinot Noir 2014, California – $26.95
- Torre del Falasco Ripasso 2013, Veneto, Italy – $17.95
- Farina Amarone 2013, Veneto, Italy – $39.95
- Ruffino Prosecco, Italy – $16.90
I sprinkled a few other Thanksgiving appropriate wines in below too…
Ruffino’s Lumina Pinot Grigio is a crowd pleasing fresh and fruity unoaked wine that’s perfectly suited for enjoying on a patio in the sun, or throughout the year with lighter fare such as appetizers, salads, and fish. From northeastern Italy, where Pinot Grigio thrives, Lumina’s light and crisp style is sure to please. The nose shows sweet orchard fruit, citrus and minerality. The palate is refreshing with sweet pear and honeysuckle leaving a crisp and clean fruity finish. Good value at less than $14 via LCBO. 87+ points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
Fumé Blanc is a wine I reach for more and more when transitioning from summer to fall and Robert Mondavi’s is a great choice. In fact it was Robert Mondavi that pioneered this wine style in Napa Valley in the 1960s, when he renamed his barrel-aged Sauvignon Blanc to Fumé Blanc. The 2014 is a blend of 94% Sauvignon Blanc and 6% Sémillon. Hand harvested, whole cluster pressed, with the majority barrel fermented and then aged for nine months sûr lie to impart a subtle richness and mid-palate mouthfeel that complements and adds complexity to the inherently fresh and crisp nature of the Sauvignon Blanc. The nose shows lemon-lime, white peach, green melon, gooseberry, sweet herbs, and flinty minerality. The palate offers refreshing citrus and tropical fruits, with lemon grass and crisp minerality on the long finish. Enjoy with Tex-Mex cuisine, creamy lemon-shrimp pasta, or spicy pasta salad with smoked gouda, tomatoes and basil. Tasted October 2016. 90 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
Robert Oatley’s Signature Series Chardonnay from one of the finest wine regions in the world, and certainly one of Australia’s most famous, Margaret River, is a great example of the expressive and refined wines this region is so well known for. From the ideal 2014 vintage, Robert Oatley sourced some of the best Chardonnay grapes from this iconic region to craft a nuanced and complex lightly oaked Chardonnay that is sure to be loved by many. Medium bodied, with elegance and structure in spades, the tropical and citrus fruit, vanilla, spice, and refreshing herbal undertones fill the nose. Creamy, smooth, and incredibly refreshing, the palate is filled with apple, ripe lime, pear and spice on the long finish. At under $20 ($CDN) this offers incredible value and will be a great complement to seared scallops with lemony risotto and truffle oil. Tasted April 2016. 91 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
Inniskillin, Canada’s original estate winery, has been producing terrific Canadian wines for over 35 years, and their Late Autumn Riesling is a fan favourite for it’s off-dry style that complements slightly sweet dishes or meals with a touch of spice. Sweet orchard fruit and floral blossoms on the nose and palate, it’s slightly sweet with good acidity keeping it refreshing. Try this autumn with butternut squash soup with crisp pancetta or butternut squash chili, both terrific pairings with this off-dry Riesling. Tasted October 2016. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
A slight ‘pop’ greets you when you crack the seal on this gem (not to worry, just a touch of CO2 from winemaking). 13th Street Winery’s ever-popular June’s Vineyard Riesling, made from old Clone 49 Riesling from Alsace, shows the freshest stonefruit, lime, ginger, and classic Riesling bees wax and petrol notes all wrapped up with crisp limestone minerality making this beautiful Ontario Riesling a fantastic choice for just about anything you can imagine from buffalo wings to spiced duck leg to Pad Thai, they’re all great with this gem. 91 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
A very approachable (and value priced) dry Prosecco exhibiting beautiful orchard fruit and honeysuckle notes. The fine bubbles produce a creamy mousse that refreshes the palate and leaves a long MacIntosh apple finish. Enjoy on its own or pair with your favourite appetizers, including prosciutto-wrapped melon or savoury hors d’oeuvres, or pair with seafood or spicy Asian entrees. This would make a great house-bubbly to keep on-hand (and chilled) for those impromptu celebrations or just to enjoy on a Friday evening. 89 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
Fruit for our Rosé comes from selected vineyards in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. The Malbec and Merlot grapes were harvested and destemmed. The juice then soaked on skins for three hours to extract a pretty pink colour before being pressed. The clarified juice was cool fermented with selected yeast strains to retain the primary varietal characters. The final blend was then stabilised, filtered, and bottled.
The colour of this rosé is so intense and attractive. Made from Merlot and Malbec grapes, the nose displays strawberry, cran-cherry, and pepper. Dry, and well structured. This rose has tannins, which isn’t uncommon, but nice to see. A terrific wine to enjoy as an apertif, with spring salads, pan seared fish, Thanksgiving meals or simply enjoy on its own. 89 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
Inniskillin’s Niagara Estate Series Pinot Noir offers terrific value for what’s often a very expensive wine style, regardless of where it comes from. At $15.95 you’d be hard pressed to find better value priced Pinot, especially Canadian Pinot Noir.
Stylistically very easy-going with a silky smooth palate, that’s jam packed with delicious cran-cherry, herbs, smoke, and vanilla. An ideal wine to enjoy in the fall, serve slightly chilled alongside grilled salmon, roasted poultry, or pork tenderloin dishes. 89 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
Meiomi’s 2014 Pinot Noir is a blend of Pinot Noir from three beautiful wine regions along the California coast: Monterey County (48%), Sonoma County (27%), and Sanata Barbara County (25%). Each lot was individually fermented and aged in 100% French oak, 60% new, to add additional texture whilst preserving the elegant and complex fruit characteristics. Blended to achieve the greatest complexity, the result is a very expressive, dry, and flavourful medium-full bodied Pinot Noir. The nose shows dried cranberry, black cherry, cedar, and a slight earthiness. The palate is loaded with sweet dark fruit, black cherry, dried cranberry, mocha, baking spices, and kirsch. Big and bold, this creamy-smooth Pinot is the finest vintage of Meiomi I recall tasting. They’ve struck a beautiful balance in this vintage. Very impressed. Enjoy with braised lamb, roasted pork with fruit chutney, or one of my favourites – Thanksgiving Turkey dinner with sweet cranberry sauce. 91 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
Now, here are some wines that many North American’s aren’t too familiar with or perhaps don’t understand well enough to choose over single varietal wines that are sitting next to them on the shelf…which is a shame when you taste what’s in these bottles. The region and style is Valpolicella, and its home to one of Italy’s most famous group of wines, and Romeo and Julietta. Valpolicella region, situated beside Verona and going up into the Lessini Mountains (essentially the foothills of the Alps), produces five different red wines, each a blend of a handful of local varietals, from the tasty and not overly complicated Valpolicella Classico, to the Vapolicella Superiore, the super value priced Ripasso, the iconic Amarone, and the sweet ending of Ripasso. These are fun and incredibly food friendly wines, which are also easy to drink making them super popular to those fortunate enough to know what Valpolicella has to offer. Typically they display powerful aromatic bouquets, have velvety smooth textures with rich dark fruit, cherry, and dried fruits persisting a the very enjoyable finish. Valpolicella wines also tend to be softer and less tannic than the wines from Tuscany, Piemonte, and certainly Bordeaux making them ready for immediate enjoyment although the high-end offerings also have legs to cellar for decades.
In any event, here are a few Valpolicella wines that I’d recommend checking out this fall, and why not start with pouring some during your Thanksgiving long weekend. As you’ll see, they’re delicious!
A traditional Vapolicella blend of Corvina Veronese, Corvinone, and Rondinella. Cantina Valpantena’s Torre del Falasco Ripasso underwent a second fermentation on the skins of the premium Amarone Torre del Falasco which added flavour, texture, and colour to the wine. 30 minutes after popping the cork the aromas have opened up and are in full force. The nose shows dried cherries, herbs, spice, cedar and leather. This food friendly Ripasso has great texture with subtle tannins which help further complement hearty autumn dishes. Tasted recently with a Buttenut Squash and Chickpea Chili and they were simply delicious together. Enjoy this versatile Ripasso with hearty dishes, pasta, or ripe cheese. Terrific quality price ratio. Tasted October 2016. 89 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
This is exactly the style of Amarone that so many love, including myself. A blend of 45% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella, 5% Molinara, and 5% Dindarella from Farina’s Montefante vineyard was aged for two years in Slavonian oak barrels, followed by another two years in barrique, before one year in bottle prior to release. Montefante shows a terrific blend of sweet dried fruits, black cherry, cassis, dark plums, baking spice, along with rustic and savoury notes that provide further complexity and add even more food pairing opportunities to an already super versatile style of wine. Full bodied with no corners anywhere in sight, it’s round and refined with a great medley of sweet dried fruits, baking spices, and those rustic and savoury flavours including leather, pepper, smoked meat, with dusty tannins on the long finish. After five years this beauty will deliver decades of pure enjoyment for those willing to tuck it away. If patience isn’t your strong suit, not to worry, it’s gorgeous now! Enjoy the finer things in life and pour yourself a glass of Amarone tonight. Tasted October 2016. 94 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
Bold, layered, and full flavoured – Farina’s Amarone is a wine that everyone will love! Rich and delicious, it’s packed full of black cherry, plum, dried figs, nutmeg, BBQ smoke, and cedar. Full bodied with a velvety smooth texture, sweet dried fruits and refreshing savoury flavours persist on the long finish. It’s no wonder why Canadian’s love this Amarone so much! Enjoy with Risotto all’Amarone, beef medallions with figs and blue cheese, and save a splash for dessert and enjoy with dark chocolate – all incredible pairings with this wine! Tasted October 2016. 93 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
Have a great Thanksgiving and I hope you enjoy some tasty wines with your meals and entertaining!