Dylan here, taking over for Simon this week. My first guest blog!!
Growing up in rural Germany, Thanksgiving wasn't a big part of our traditions. Though my American mother tried her best, and often succeeded, in instilling various traditions in us as kids, Thanksgiving wasn't really one of them. Perhaps it was overshadowed by the many small traditions that Northern Germany had to offer. One of my favorites, and maybe the closest to American Thanksgiving, was Erntedankfest, the German tradition of being thankful for the harvest, and relaxing after months spent in the fields. To this day this is widely celebrated across Germany. Our version of it often involved a long nature walk with the community, ending in a picnic-style feast.
It wasn't until moving to the U.S. in my late-teens that I got to experience a real American Thanksgiving that brought together loved ones over good food and good wine.
Erntedankfest in Southern Germany
So, as the holidays approach, whatever you celebrate, we have compiled a list of great value wines that we feel best express the three levels of what wine is all about for us. The Garagiste selection includes complex everyday drinking wines; among our Reserve selection are some very intriguing, and slightly more serious finds; and our Cellar-Worthy selection is comprised of wines that you can drink now, but that have the structure and quality to develop beautifully over time. Below is a guide for what you might pair with a rich turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce, or any other holiday delight, and for what you can drink when doing the washing up after. All of the wines can be ordered individually, or as a set.
First, our Garagiste Selection includes wines at the everyday drinking level that showcase incredible complexity. These are great selections for any party or gathering and will without a doubt go over well.
Bohigas Brut Cava Reserva NV ($18)
This Cava is simply one of the best value sparkling wines we’ve had. Notes of fresh yellow and red fruits, great acids, and a bready character that is just so delicious. Refreshing as it hits your palate, with a trillion fine bubbles dancing around in your mouth. A must for the holidays!
Xavier Clua Terra Alta Il-lusio Garnatxa Blanca 2021 ($22)
Once a producer of bulk wines, the current generation has transformed this winery and is producing a set of fabulous artisanal wines. This white has a great zesty character with delicate fruits and a hint of white pepper spice. It is just rich enough to hold up against big dishes, such as Thanksgiving Turkey, but offers great freshness that will complement luscious foods ever so beautifully.
Alit Pinot Noir 2017 ($22)
This is one of our most popular wines of all time. No one can believe the value of this world-class Pinot. It's the only Pinot I know of under $50 that has this depth and tension. Full of raspberries and mushrooms, it has great acidity, wonderful integration, and a long-lifted finish. Delicious, smooth and sexy.
Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo 2020 ($33)
This is a spectacular red wine, with beautiful balance that has the depth of character of an older wine, but an openness like a best friend’s hugs that makes it so approachable (hard for Barolo when young). Dried roses, cherries, orange zest, and a hint of tar which gives it a great edge that can hold up to any holiday dish.
Our Reserve Selection is one step up, and offers great choices for those of you that want to dive into something slightly more serious. Depth, concentration and overall stunning quality defines these wines, and the selection includes picks from Burgundy, Champagne, and the Northern Rhône.
Champagne Laherte Frères Ultradition Extra Brut ($52)
This is a blend of all three Champagne grapes: Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Laherte family has 75 small plots all over Champagne, giving them a great palate that reflects different aspects of the clay and chalk soils. This blend is full of guava, Meyer lemon, and yeasty brioche notes. A great glass of Champagne.
Dominique Lafon Bourgogne Blanc 2020 ($46)
Dominique Lafon is one of the most well known producers in Burgundy, and his Bourgogne Blanc always offers great value for the price. This wine is full of floral notes with hints of lemon rind, pear and freshly baked bread. An elegant, deep white Burgundy that is ever so expressive.
Domaine des Pierres Sèches St. Joseph Rouge ($39)
This 100% Syrah is a stunning glass of peppery, spicy mulberries. The perfectly balanced tannins create great elegance and leave you smacking your lips, as the flavors of dark berries and spices twirl around your mouth. This is a seriously great wine for the money and could grace any dinner table and raise some eyebrows.
Lastly, our Cellar Selection is for those of you that recognise a holiday may justify diving into the special stuff. These wines are seriously great and display a distinct sense of place. All three are from very unique producers working incredibly intricately with their small estates, utilising organic practices and minimal intervention in their winemaking. They are produced with care and intention, and will most definitely leave an impression. Augustin l’Air Cuvée CCXIV ($88) The Augustin family is the most unique Champagne producer we have ever come across. Marc and his wife, Emanuelle, have come up with ‘Coeurviculture’, or ‘farming with heart,’ where everything is done with loving care. They treat their vines and wines like living beings, going so far as to braid the growth on the vines rather than trim them so as not to shock the plant. This is their L’Air Champagne. It is beautiful and delicate, with the finest of bubbles, and notes of star fruit and almonds. A wine for the special occasions! Domaine d’Henri Chablis, 1er Cru, Fourchaume, Héritage, Vieilles Vignes 2019 ($87) The vines for this cuvée were planted back in 1937 on this plot of 1er Cru land in Chablis. When the vintage is worthy, these wines are vinified separately from the rest and released only in the very best years. This is a super fresh white Burgundy with notes of citrus and green fruits, intense mineral complexity and a very long finish. Incredibly layered, vibrant wine. Colline Lucchesi Tenuta di Valgiano 2016 ($100) Tenuta di Valgiano is a remarkable example of what Tuscany is capable of producing in some of its smaller, off-the-beaten path pockets of land. Lying just above the city of Lucca, this stunning little family owned estate works closely with its terroir to produce some truly expressive wines that rival a lot of the big Super Tuscans. This blend of Sangiovese, Syrah and Merlot offers a mélange of flavors with great balance, a wonderful sense of minerality and a very long finish. One of our favorite wines of this year.
We hope you enjoy our selections, and can celebrate with family and friends this year. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!