In Pursuit of Balance Wines 2013

I virtually “attended” In Pursuit of Balance Wines which was held in San Francisco.
Basically this is a group of California winegrowers who aim to produce great wines (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir only, for now) in the vineyard and in the cellar by keeping all of the components of a wine (acidity, alcohol, fruit) in balance.

When a wine is in balance it pairs well with food and is very easy to drink.
If you had some bad experiences with poorly made California wine (too buttery, oaky, alcoholic fruit bomb) then you might consider trying some of the wines on this list.
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Picking Pinot with a Master of Wine (MW)

“God made Cabernet Sauvignon, whereas the Devil made Pinot Noir,” a quote from America’s most influential winemaker, André Tchelistcheff.

I recently attended a fantastic event at Astor Center with Christy Canterbury, MW.

Master of Wine is an IMPRESSIVE title, there are currently only 30 Americans who have it. The program takes a minimum of three years to complete, and most never achieve the certification.

I am often asked to recommend a great, affordable Pinot Noir. This is usually an oxymoron.  Pinot Noir is a thin-skinned grape which means it is susceptible to frost, wind, and too cold or too hot temperature. It is also a very low yielding grape which means you get very few grapes per vine.

All of these factors make Pinot Noir very difficult to grow and therefore it is expensive to turn into wine.

Most agree that the best Pinot Noir comes from Burgundy, France but they are also some of the priciest. I have found some really good, affordable Pinot from Washington State and Central Otago, New Zealand that I recommend to others.

I was curious to taste all 8 expressions of Pinot Noir and also to hear how “the Master” would handle the challenge.

Her Pinot Selections…
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American Thanksgiving wines- “Red”, White, and Orange?

Everbody has their opinions about which are the “best” wines for the Thanksgiving table. I love Old World wines (Spain, Italy, Germany, France) but this is an American Holiday, so my choices for Thanksgiving are usually all-American.

All of this years interesting selections came from a recent visit to the North Fork of Long Island, New York.

THE “RED”
2010 Shinn Vineyards- Anomaly. White Pinot Noir? Yes, you can make a white wine from a red grape. Just like champagne the reason this wine is not red is because the juice is not fermented with the skins (which would give the wine a pink/red color).
http://www.lenndevours.com/2009/05/anthony-nappa-wines-2008-anomaly-.html

THE WHITE
2007 Lenz Winery- Gewürtztraminer- often referred to as Gewürz which means “spice”. It is a pink-red grape which produces a white wine that goes great with white meats, like turkey, as well as Asian food!
http://www.lenzwine.com/Home.htm

THE ORANGE
2010 Channing Daughters, Ramato- “Orange Wine”-made from Pinot Grigio or “Gray Pinot”- wines produced from this grape vary in color from a deep golden yellow to copper and even a light shade of pink. All grape juice is clear, but this particular wine is called “orange” due to the color it picks up from from being kept in contact with the skins.
https://www.channingdaughters.com/wine_order/index.php#2010%20Ramato

By the way, the “best” Thanksgiving wine is whatever is on the table with family, friends and food.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Top Thanksgiving Wines from the USA

Because Thanksgiving is an American holiday I only included wines from the good ol’ USA. I have had all of these wines and I recommend them all. Click on the links to find them near you.

Here are my top 4, in order…

#4. Zinfandel

Zinfandel can be high in alcohol (a moderate amount is under 13%. Zin can be 15%+). No wonder many refer to it as “whiskey in a wine”. It can also be “jammy” and spicy, like fruit concentrate mixed with pepper. Any wine that is too high in alcohol will NOT go well with turkey. However, when Zinfandel is done well it is a cornucopia of flavors, many of which match the fruits and spice on the table. Although the grape is originally believed to be from Croatia it is considered by many in the wine world to be uniquely American– from the soil to the American oak barrels!

Tolerant Taster approved:
1. Dashe Cellars Dry Creek -A solid Zin that is widely available
2. Cline Cellars -for a real bargain.

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#3. Sparkling Wine

Hey it’s the holidays, let’s have some fun. Besides, sparkling wines are very food friendly and don’t have to be expensive. Most sparkling wines are made with Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir so they are grapes you already know and love. To add some additional color to your table try a Rose!

Tolerant Taster approved:
1. Gruet -produced in New Mexico born in France
2. Chandon -Brut (from Moet & Chandon) grown and produced in Yountville, California.

#2. Pinot Noir

Pinot is so appealing because it has finesse. It is low in tannin, so it is not bitter or drying and it contains a good amount of red fruits (strawberry, raspberry, cherry), spice or even cola flavors. With a good amount of acidity it is a very food friendly wine. It is probably the best choice if you are only serving one red wine on Thanksgiving.

Tolerant Taster approved:

1. A to Z Wineworks -a family winery in Dundee Oregon.
2. Adelsheim -another great pinot from Oregon,  (try to get past the dated looking label-they are changing it.) Had it last weekend with crabcakes!


#1. Riesling

One of the most food friendly wines (and still not given proper respect) Riesling should be the wine you introduce to your friends. Many still think of it as a sweet wine, which can be true, but it can also be bone dry. Though it contains more residual sugar than some wines it has acid to give it balance. You might not drink sugar water but I bet you love lemonade! Lower in alcohol because it grows best in cool climates, so drink up.

Tolerant Taster approved:
1. Chateau St. Michelle Eroica -A collaboration between the famous Dr. Loosen (of Germany) and Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington state.
2. Dr. Konstantin -from one the New York Finger Lakes pioneers,

Let me know what you are having on your table…

*all photos are from the producers websites.