TIME TO TALK TURKEY (AND SIDES)!
Tatomer Riesling Vandenberg Santa Barbara County 2015
Country: USA / Region: CALIFORNIA / Appellation: SANTA BARBARA COUNTY/ Varietal(s): RIESLING --- 39 year-old Graham Tatomer got his start in the wine business at the age of 16, working for Santa Barbara Winery. A paycheck grew into a passion, one particularly influenced by the cooler-climate vineyards of California's Central Coast. After having his mind blown by a glass of Austrian riesling, Graham moved to Austria in 2003 to fully immerse himself in the world of of that iconic grape, working with Weingut Knoll in the celebrated Wachau region. Returning to California, he founded Tatomer in 2008 with two riesling vineyards, with the intent to make California riesling as bone-dry, bracing, and nuanced as those he experienced in Austria. He's been remarkably successful ever since, and this wine is a case in point! A blend of multiple pickings from sites throughout Santa Barbara County, the majority of fruit here comes from "Kick-on Ranch". Kick-on Ranch is located about a mile from the Vandenberg Air Force base, which lends its name to this cuvée. Fresh and lively, this has all the intensity and tension of a plucked string on an electric guitar! A whiff of petrol on the nose yields to a palate of savory stonefruit and white flowers. A textured, honeyed character provides plenty of elegance on the finish. This has great aging potential, but is darn good now with sesame chicken salad with ginger-lime dressing. It's also a great way to get your palate warmed up for a big Thanksgiving feast!
Idlewild Wines Arneis Fox Hill Vineyard 2016
Country: USA / Region: CALIFORNIA / Appellation: MENDOCINO COUNTY / Varietal(s): ARNEIS --- Sam Bilbro comes from a family tradition of winemaking, beginning with his great-grandfather, who made wine in Cloverdale during Prohibition and trucked it up to San Francisco. Sam's father started Marietta Cellars in 1978, where Sam literally grew up among the vines (his brothers Jake and Scot are also in the wine business). After a stint in the restaurant business, he started Idlewild in 2012, with the goal of making wines of energy and precision with the grape varietals of Northern Italy's Piedmont region. A rare find in California, Fox Hill Vineyard is located southeast of Ukiah on the Talmadge Bench in Mendocino, where the arneis grape thrives in gravel and sandstone soils. A beautiful floral and mineral nose displays notes of yellow and white peach, spiced pear, almonds, and a touch of fennel. Clean and lean in the mouth, it bursts with flavors of Rainier cherry, white flowers, and chalky wet stone, with a saline, savory texture. Beautifully balanced, this is unique, refreshing, and totally gulpable! A great start to holiday dinners, this is great with fried oyster cakes, cheeses, and the big bird itself!
Cruse Wine Co. Monkey Jacket Red North Coast 2016 - CERTIFIED ORGANIC
Country: USA / Region: CALIFORNIA / Appellation: NORTH COAST / Varietal(s): VALDIGUIÉ+CARIGNAN+TANNAT --- Quaffable, quirky, and uniquely Californian: Michael Cruse's winemaking philosophy in a nutshell. A resident of Petaluma since the age of 10 (his family moved to escape high housing costs), Cruse's blue collar background remains central to the wines he makes, backed up with formidable technical skills. Aspiring to be a scientist, he studied biochem at UC Berkeley, where he got his first taste of wine science at a lecture by Terry Leighton (the microbiologist who owns Kalin Cellars.) He was admitted to the UC Davis master's program in enology and viticulture, but took a job at Sutter Home first, where the physical work of the cellar won out over the academic rat race. He never made it to Davis, instead working as associate winemaker at Starmont, before launching Cruse Wine Co. out of a warehouse across the street from Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma in 2013. In a scene where the focus is often either on high-end cabernet or high-acid European-inspired wines, Cruse's wines remain exuberantly drinkable, accessible, and table-friendly. This is perfectly summed up in his relationship with the valdiguié grape, a cornerstone of Napa's past. Known as "Napa gamay" in the early 20th century, it was the base for less-exacting wines mimicking French Beaujolais. Of the 950 acres in Napa in 1973, only 21 remain, and Cruse's vineyards are among those still standing. Like gamay, valdiguié is generous and fruitful, but fuller-bodied in character. This red blend (named for a short jacket historically worn by sailors) is a glorious dance of that historic valdiguié with touches of tannat and carignan. Energetic aromas of cranberry and violets evolve into a palate of bright citrus and soft tannins. Juicy, fresh, chewy, textured, this wine evokes a truly Californian joie de vivre. A perfect choice for celebrating gatherings of family and friends: generous, sophisticated (but never pretentious) and downright delicious!
Farmstrong Field Red California 2014 - SUSTAINABLY GROWN
Country: USA / Region: CALIFORNIA / Appellation: CALIFORNIA / Varietal(s): CARIGNAN+SYRAH --- Winemaker Faith Armstrong Foster seeks to highlight California's unique grape growing history with her Farmstrong label by purchasing small lots of grapes from individual vineyards with distinctive characteristics and using them to create deliciously dynamic blends. A blend of 36% carignan from Hawkeye Ranch in Redwood Valley, 28% carignan from Casa Rojo vineyard in Contra Costa, and 36% syrah from Roger King in Suisun Valley, these batches were fermented separately in stainless steel tanks, then aged in 9% new and 91% neutral French oak. Faith works with farmers who are true stewards of the land, and this field blend is a case in point. The carignan vines of Hawkeye Ranch are heritage clones and 80 years old on average, and the vineyard is CCOF Certified Organic and Fish Friendly. The syrah comes from Roger King (of Ledgewood Vineyard), a well-known grower and advocate for sustainable practices in Suisun Valley, where his dry-farming techniques imbue the syrah with intensity and complexity. Finally, the other batch of carignan comes from Casa Rojo, the oldest vineyard planted in Contra Costa, dating back to the 1800s. Old vines and sustainable farming pay off in spades here, with incredible aromas of spices, floral notes, dark fruit, grilled bread, and freshly ground white pepper. Medium- to full-bodied on the palate, the wine is elegant and structured, with mouthwatering flavors of black plum, cranberry preserves, and warm cherry compote, all balanced by bright acidity and gentle yet firm tannins. Sure to be a new favorite, this is refreshing, reliable, and versatile. Another terrific American choice for Thanksgiving.