Still thinking what wines to get for your Thanksgiving party? These three great options offer an incredible value and will keep everyone happy.
This is a great wine to start your Thanksgiving party. It can very well be the wine you begin serving as soon as your guests arrive.
With nice fruit aromas, this Beaujolais-Villages is bright, smooth and a bit jammy.
Made from Gamay Noir grapes and with a 13% alcohol volume, it is medium body and very satisfying.
You can also pair it with your turkey dish or salads with dried cranberries and goat cheese, but it might not have the punch needed for more hearty foods. Perhaps pair it with a nice conversation with your guests while dinner is ready.
2007 St. Francis Old Vines Zinfandel – Sonoma County
Great Zinfandels come from Sonoma and this one is a must for your Thanksgiving dinner. With a great character and superb quality, this full bodied Zinfandel comes from vines that are 80 to 100 years old.
On the nose it’s peppery, with hints of tobacco and raspberry. On the palate it’s simply a delight, with dominant flavors of black cherry, dry fruit, vanilla bean, and walnut.
With a silky rich structure, this Zinfandel has a long luscious bouquet.
The Old Vines Zinfandel can pair well with your traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner or with dishes such as barbecued chicken, rib roast, and lamb dishes.
Fonseca Bin No. 27 Porto
Aged for four years in neutral oak before bottling, it has an intense depth of color and great fruit character. On the nose, this Bin No. 27 port offers fresh, rich blackberry and cassis aromas. The silky texture of this high quality port is reflected on the palate, showcasing delicious dry fruit and dark chocolate with an sophisticated finish.
This Fonseca Port with pair elegantly with desserts made with rich dark chocolate and strawberries.
Enjoy your wines, your great company, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Nestled at the foot of the Olympic Mountains in Washington State is Port Angeles, a picturesque town known by many as the Gateway to Olympic National Park. Visitors and residents alike appreciate the natural, serene environment that combines the evergreen mountain air with fresh, salty seawater from the Strait of Juan de Fuca truly making this destination a breath of fresh air.
(Photo via Port Angeles Downtown)
What you may not know is the Olympic Peninsula is also home to at least 8 wineries open to the public. In other words, you can ski or hike Hurricane Ridge in the morning and enjoy a glass of wine at Camaraderie Cellars in the afternoon! Or, if you’re up for it, take a long weekend and visit all 8 wineries!
Port Angeles is home to Harbinger Winery, Camaraderie Cellars, Black Diamond Winery, and Olympic Cellars. Located an hour east is Port Townsend, known for its restored Victorian homes and beautiful downtown. There you’ll find Eaglemount Wine & Cider, Sorensen Cellars, FairWinds Winery, and Finnriver Farm & Cidery.
We personally recommend a visit to Camaraderie Cellars in Port Angeles and Sorenson Cellars in Port Townsend. And for fellow cider fans… a visit to Alpenfire Cider (formerly Wildfire Cider), also near Port Townsend, is a definitive MUST.
If you only have 3 days for your wine adventure on the Olympic Peninsula, we suggest spending 2 in Port Angeles and the last day in Port Townsend before heading back to Seattle or your next destination. This will give you an opportunity to do some sightseeing between wineries. Because these are small, family-run wineries, don’t forget to call the wineries ahead of time to be sure they’ll be open during your visit.
Other things to do/see in Port Angeles:
Olympic National Park: Drive up to Hurricane Ridge for stunning views, skiing, or some of the best hiking in Washington State. Pack a picnic lunch, otherwise there’s an overpriced cafeteria that sells hamburgers, fries, and soup.
Lake Crescent: Also part of Olympic National Park, Lake Crescent lies about 18 miles west of Port Angeles. This lake is another great place for hiking or taking in the natural beauty of Washington State. Check out the Lake Crescent Lodge or The Log Cabin Resort if you’re interested in spending more time in the area. In the summertime, this is a popular swim spot for locals.
Salt Creek State Park: Whether you’re into camping or just want to explore the tide pools, this is a fun family-friendly spot where the kids can roam free.
Great eats in Port Angeles:
Michael’s Seafood & Steakhouse: One of the best restaurants in Port Angeles, Michael offers a gourmet selections and a great Happy Hour menu from 4-6pm daily. The Gnocchi and Baked Brie are personal favorites. As a bonus, there’s local wine on the list! This is always a great option if you can’t make it to a winery but really want to taste the fruits of their labor.
Toga’s Soup House: Once a fancy reservations-only restaurant perfect for an intimate dinner, Toga’s has reinvented itself as a popular lunch spot for soups, salads, and sandwiches. If you’re headed to Camaraderie Cellars, this is a great stopping point along the way.
Frugals: If you’re in the mood for a burger and fries to-go, Frugals is a small retro double drive-in fast food joint that has been an institution in Port Angeles since… well, forever. Their milkshakes are very popular, so check the flavor of the month!
Port Townsend recommendations:
(photo via Puget Sound Express)
The Rose Theater: This unique independent cinema is a must-see if you love beautiful theaters and foreign films. The popcorn is delicious and you can grab a glass of wine!
Fort Worden: A state park and conference center perfect for walks along the two-mile shore line. A lot of weekend art workshops are hosted here, so check local listings for dates.
Great eats in Port Townsend:
The Pizza Factory: This is where you’ll find the best pizza on the Olympic Peninsula. Grab a slice and people watch from a bench on the street.
Alchemy Bistro & Wine Bar: Is a description really necessary? The menu is great (pasta, lamb, seafood), but just remember the wine bar doesn’t open until 4pm. It’s also a nice place to hit up for appetizers and a glass of vino before a movie.
Port Angeles is an easy 2.5 hour drive from Seattle. Or, get there in 20 minutes with a direct flight from Boeing Field with Kenmore Air.
And now off to walk the plank to pop open a bottle of Pirate’s Plank Bone Dry from Alpenfire Cider! I challenge you to find a cider that we’d enjoy more…
Mer Soleil Silver Unoaked Chardonnay
Santa Lucia Highlands
“Movin’ to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches…” And this wine has a lot of them. The taste is fruity with tropical notes, no surprise coming from a bouquet like that. This wine is a walk through the tropical forest with a bit of acidity to keep you from relaxing too much. A trip to Hawaii in your own living room, anyone? $22.
Mer Soleil Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
Santa Lucia Highlands
Feelin’ peachy? Still? With an wonderfully aromatic nose, this oaked wine is a pleasant balcony sipper. Pineapple and coconut suggest a waterfront view. Sip it alone or serve with toasted almonds to snack on or if you’re in the mood for a meal, go for a light salad to compliment this calming wine. $32.
Conundrum – California White Wine (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Muscat)
Honeysuckle and rhubarb greet the nose. A bit on the sweeter side, this zesty and very floral wine would pair well with spicy Asian food. Keep this in mind for your next round of Thai takeout. Unless you like off-dry wines on the sweeter side, you won’t be drinking this alone. $22.
Meiomi – Pinot Noir
Strawberry and plumb jam, this Pinot has a very fruity nose. A standard Pinot Noir with suggestions of earthy forest floor, it’s actually a bit on the spicy side (hello clove!) and ever so slightly smoky. This easy and smooth sipper is perfect for a stand-up and mingle wine social. Or, pair it with pizza night. $22.
Belle Glos – Pinot Noir
Santa Maria Valley
Fall is here which means winter is getting closer. A bit jammy (strawberry, cherry), this Pinot has hints of spicy oak and even reminds me of cinnamon boiling on the hearth (oh childhood memories!), Get in the holiday spirit and enjoy this with a rack of lamb or filet mignon. Worth $44? No. It’s what we like to call “overpriced.”
Caymus – Cabernet Sauvignon
So far, the best wine tonight! It’s smooth, not too alcoholic or acidic, and has an overall sense of balance. Toasted oak, white pepper, and creme de cassis – not to mention subtle coffee and vanilla – mmm… a true Cab! Invite the best and only the best to enjoy this vino. At $68 you’ll have to decide whether your potential guests have been naughty or nice.
Masút Vineyard & Winery owner Jacob Fetzer is a third generation winemaker who grew up on his family’s Fetzer Vineyards. No stranger to organic farming, Jake continues the practice today on his certified organic vineyard. Jake and his brother Ben take a very hands-on approach when it comes to winemaking, a skill demonstrated and modeled by their father, the late Bobby Fetzer.
This legacy of love and respect for the land coupled with healthy farming practices has paid off enormously because the Fetzer brothers have somehow managed to translate and infuse these values into each bottle of wine:
Relaxing with Masút Vineyard and Winery’s 2009 Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir brings us back to what we’d imagine drinking wine with our great-grandparents would be like. There’s something about their Pinot Noir that evokes the feelings of refined, classy elegance.
This ruby red, well-balanced Pinot Noir from Mendocino offers a full-palate experience that’s so smooth, you’ll barely notice the tannins. With flavors of blackberry and black cherry jam, this wine wouldn’t be a Pinot Noir without that hint of earthiness. This elegant wine has been aged in French oak barrels for 10 months to give it a kiss of cocoa on the finish. It’s a great wine for drinking now either alone or with food.
Although this wine comes with a $40 price tag, it’s one of the few times I’d say IT’S WORTH EVERY PENNY!
If you haven’t been to a wine tasting event, I highly recommend you find an event and check it out because it’s a great way to get the flavor of a region or country.
Just this week, our official TravelPlusWine delegation (yours truly & Ricardo) spent the afternoon in Los Angeles at the Austria Uncorked event at the SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills. Where else can we taste hundreds of Austrian wines and sample a variety of cheeses without leaving the country?
Although we attended the European Wine Bloggers Conference this past fall in Vienna, I felt I needed a chance to get to know Austrian wines other than Grüner Veltliner (I’m still a HUGE fan) in order to really understand the country’s wines. My mission at Austria Uncorked: reds, rosés, and bubbles.
While there are so many great wines and wineries to write about, here’s an overview of a few of our favorite finds:
The stand-out wine of the day, definitely deserving of more than a passing mention, is the 2008 Elfenhof Exclusiv Zweigelt. It tasted lush and much richer than many of the other Zweigelts we tasted. The wine is super smooth and bursting with cherry juice. As you sip, for a split second, you taste an intense sweetness which quickly dissipates into a dry, easy, even earthy sipping wine. I love it when wines play tricks in my mouth and surprise me with the finish. Well worth the $23 price tag and available from Schlossadler International Wines.
Another fun wine from Elfenhof, if you enjoy sweet wines on the tart side, is the their 2009 Roter Ausbruch (made from the Roesler grape). I personally prefer the dryer side of the fence when it comes to wine, so this Roter Ausbruch provides the tartness I enjoy when it comes to sweeter wines. Price unknown.
Speaking of yummy, tart, sweet wines…
Weinrieder has a 2008 Riesling Eiswein which manages to pack a ton of awesome peachy tartness into such a cute bottle. Price unknown, distributed by Blue Danube Wine Company.
The 2008 J. Heinrich terra o. Cuvée (Mittelburgenland DAC) is a surprising yet scrumptious blend of Blaufränkisch, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. The flavors blend into a great steakhouse delight that I’d even enjoy without the food. While the wine is nice, $45 seems a bit exaggerated for this bottle (Blue Danube Wine Company).
If you want a Blaüfrankisch that supposedly ‘defines’ an Austrian Blaüfrankish, the 2009 Goldberg Blaufränkish (Burgenland), a signature wine from J. Heinrich, is what you’ll want to try. Well-established in the Austrian wine world for over 300 years, the Heinrich family planted the vines for these grapes more than 50 years ago in the best vineyard location in Deutschkreutz, the Goldberg. Licorice and lavender are present in this wine while dark cherries and an appealing minerality push through the lingering finish. More great winemaking for the $20-something price range (Blue Danube Wine Company).
Many of you know way too much about my passion and love of Rosé wines… and it’s important to mention Austria makes a wide variety of nice Rosés.
I tried what I’m pretty sure is my first Zweigelt rosé yesterday which was both fun and different. Stift Klosterneuburg’s Klostersekt Rosé is summer fruity, tart, and peppery with a lovely finish – almost like burnt caramel. I’d enjoy this wine as an appetizer, with light pasta dishes, salad, or simply sip alone. (Price unknown – Importer: Leopold Imports LLC)
Upcoming Tasting Event:
May 4: Austria Uncorked – NYC
Where and when is your next event? Leave a link with information in the comments below.