Three Pinot Noirs for Thanksgiving 2008 |

Three Pinot Noirs for Thanksgiving 2008

Jarrett Osborn

We’re almost to Thanksgiving, so be prepared with one of these lovely Pinot Noirs, each in a distinct price range. Pinot Noir is the most versatile red wine, so it will be your best choice for the wide variety of dishes at a Thanksgiving feast.

For the budget conscious, try the 2007 De Loach “Cote de Loach” Pinot Noir, from several vineyards in California, mainly in the Russian River Valley. A steal at $15, this wine has all the hallmark flavors: raspberry, light toasty oak, and a hint of white pepper on the finish. What sets it apart is the light acidity and tannins on the finish, and the lovely dried berry and dry leaves flavor. Dry leaves flavor, eh? Yes, almost sandalwood or earthiness, but not so strong. And admit it, at some point in your life, whether jumping in a pile of leaves or as a “gift” from your big brother, you have tasted dry leaves.

For the mid-range selection, around $35, open the 2006 Cuvaison Pinot Noir, from the Carneros region in southern Napa Valley. Dark berry and plum flavors dominate, with a little dark oak, earthiness, and baked clove on the finish. Ripe black cherry and cola notes make this Pinot particularly good with ham, and the necessary light acidity is apparent at the end. Prototypical California Pinot Noir, with not too much fruit to make it overblown.

Now for the big boy. Unlike Cabernet Sauvignon, where the higher-end wines get huge and dark and big and tannic, higher-end Pinot Noir get more elegant and deep and complex, not necessarily bigger and darker. Such is the case with the 2005 Yabby Lake Pinot Noir, from the Mornington Peninsula in south Australia. A very cool region right on the southern tip of the continent, the Mornington Peninsula produces clean, crisp, and elegant Pinot Noirs. The Yabby Lake is all that, with ripe raspberry flavors, a refreshing and tangy nori (sushi seaweed) hint, light chalky tannins, and lovely acidity. The bright berry and light tangerine flavors evoke a young Nuits-St.-Georges! Perfect for the usual spread of turkey and stuffing, or salmon if fish is on the Thanksgiving menu. The Yabby Lake Pinot Noir is $55.

One week to go until the big dinner, so plan ahead, get your wines early, then sit back and enjoy a truly American holiday.

Support Local Journalism