Woman on Wine by Amy Reiley
Since Thanksgiving is an American holiday, there’s a part of me that always feels like nothing will do but American wine. (Admittedly, I do love pairing Champagnes, Australian Rieslings and Burgundies with my turkey.) But this year, I’m showing my national pride and celebrating the Napa Valley. After all, it’s arguably thanks to the early pioneers of the Napa Valley that America has a world-class wine industry. Because Napa is blessed with fairly reliable climates and vintners are able to control watering with irrigation, there tends to be less variation between vintages than you’ll find in some of the world’s more rugged wine country. In other words, these 5 wines are ones you can count on, vintage after vintage, to bring something special to the table on this Thanksgiving, next Thanksgiving or any day you feel like celebrating American wine.
Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay
If you know anything about Napa wine, you know why I’m including this legendary bottling in my list. The first American wine to win a French wine competition, (when compared with great Burgundies), it is consistently among the nation’s finest Chards. Rich, voluptuous and full-bodied are the first words that come to mind, yet it is always carefully balanced so as not to overwhelm a meal.
Saintsbury Carneros Chardonnay
This is among the Napa Valley’s best buy white wines. It’s made in a crisp and refreshing style, making it approachable and much loved. Saintsbury’s Carneros is easy to drink and its bright, citrus flavors are a delicious partner for roast turkey.
Stony Hill Gewurztraminer
Made in a clean, crisp, dry style, this is a wine made for the Thanksgiving table. Its aromas are unforgettable, a bouquet of wildflowers in the glass. The wine’s fruit flavors tend toward citrus, a perfect palate cleanser in the bottle. Gewurztraminers from the Napa Valley are rare; this is a wine that’s sure to surprise and please every wine lover at the table.
Ceja Vino de Casa Red Blend
I tend to prefer white wines to red with my Thanksgiving meal. I find many of Napa’s most famous and respected wines better saved for a different occasion, not paired with cranberry sauce. However, there are several exceptions to the rule including this unusual, Pinot-based blend. It offers tart berry fruit and an approachable style that both red and white wine drinkers can enjoy with a holiday feast.
Peju H.B. Cabernet Sauvignon
This is a Napa Cab I can get behind serving with a turkey feast. If you’re looking for something special, distinctly American yet restrained enough to enjoy with a meal, this should be your wine. It offers a beautiful earthiness and hints of herbs and cocoa that serve to enhance a meal, not outshine it. Although the current vintage is ready to drink, I tend to prefer this wine after the tannins mellow for a few years in the bottle.
If you want to learn more about Napa Valley wines, I recommend checking out this gorgeous coffee table book on Napa’s finest winemakers: 50 Premiere Winemakers of Napa Valley.
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