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Wines for Thanksgiving!

Schloss Mulenhoff Dornfelder 07With only one weekend before Thanksgiving remaining, no doubt wine lovers throughout the country will be out and about buying wines for the big event. Indeed, it's up there as far as important wine events go! For your drinking (and reading) pleasure, it seemed prudent to round up a few of my favorite picks for the e-roster. Wheeee!!


2007 Schloss Muhlenhof Dornfelder - This bad boy comes in a 1L size. I hosted a small affair last weekend and it could have easily been the only wine I poured (it was gone WAY too quickly!) - offering great, concentrated red berry fruit flavors (cherries, raspberries) in a smooth, sultry package. Generally speaking, this grape (Dornfelder, that is) is a German red wine phenomenon for those who like a lot of fruit, a bit of "lift" and a welcome bit of earthy, mineral-driven nuance to their wines. No lie, Scholss Muhlenhof's is THE BEST I've ever encountered (so great is my love I'm tempted to buy a full case of the stuff to have on hand "just in case..." this winter). The extra glass the 1L size offers will NOT be wasted.  Only $15!

2006 Bethel Heights Eola-Amity Cuvee Pinot Noir -  A careful blend of 6 different vineyard sites, the  is a tremendous, mouth-filling example of Oregon Pinot Noir. Think of this wine as a smooth, deeply earthy Belgian truffle, filled with cherry and raspberry fruits. Truly a well-integrated, delicious wine worth the gentle splurge. (A winner destined for my own table.) About $31.

2007 Clos la Coutale Cahors - With the (worthy) Malbec craze stemming from the success of this grape in Argentina, many consumers forget Malbec is actually a French varietal. Many more do not know that arguably the best, single bottling Malbecs in France come from the Cahors region – and are labeled simply as such. This wine is  remarkably succulent, juicy and approachable. Enjoy black raspberry and blackberry flavors complemented with fresh strawberries! A touch of earthy rusticity makes this Malbec uniquely French. This one is a "bigger" wine than "traditional" Thanskgiving recommendations and would be a particularly good match for rosemary/garlic encrusted roast hen, or the like. About $17.


Schoenheitz NV Edelzwicker - Edelzwicker means "noble blend". Indeed this wine includes as many as seven different varieties from Auxerrois to Sylvaner. The result is suprisingly coherent and delightfully flavorful. Well balanced, dry Alsatian goodness, this is another wine that comes in the 1 litre size bottle. About $15.

2006 Clos de Rochers Pinot Gris - While Alsace, France has long been the place for rich, but dry Pinot Gris, this Luxembourg beauty beats them at their own game. Ripe pears and yellow flowers abound on the nose and coat the palette while brisk minerality keeps things dry and balanced. This wine is absolutely worth the splurge – and certainly a great conversation topic if the family gets a bit unruly. (This one will also be on my own table!)  About $22.

2007 Anne Amie Cuvee A Mueller Thurgau -Leave it to the folks at well-known Anne Amie Vineyards to deliver an exceptional, if not lesser known, wine. The Cuvee A Mueller Thurgau’s tropical and floral aromas could very easily be bottled on their own and used by aroma therapists to rejuvenate clients. Pineapple, melon and white peach flavors comingle with a perky taste of fresh lemon juice. About $15.


Villa di Corlo NV Grasparossa Lambrusco - Versatile, slightly sparkling, fresh, fruity goodness. Lambrusco is pink - and the best are oh-so-dry. This is a wine for guests who deserve and enjoy a break from the norm. This particular offering shows ripe raspberry fruit backed by a coy minerality. Perfect simply when you want to dazzle without effort. About $17.

Poema NV Brut Cava - Today, if you look for it, exceptional Cava is available at a fraction of the price of Champagne. Case in point: the Poema makes drinking bubbly every day (or in a large party format) oh-so-easy and affordable! This is a fun and versatile bubbly with subtle flavors of peach, pear and warm, toasted bread. A bit of orange rind on the finish adds additional intrigue and nuance. Enjoy this one before, during or after your meal. About $11.

Which one of these is likely to grace your table? Is there another you have in mind for the big day??



Pinot Noir that will WOW you

Becker Pinot NoirThere’s no time like the fall to start your Pinot engines. And there’s no reason to wait for Thanksgiving to enjoy these wines for their food-friendly attributes and elegance. Today over at Wicked Local we're starting a new mini-series on great Pinot Noir for under $20; and we've started the fun with one of the finest examples  on the market today! Check out today's article to learn more about the wine that absolutely WOWed me - and which country produces this hidden gem....

Have you discovered a secret "trick" to finding delicious, recession-proof Pinot?



Drinking red after Memorial Day

Lambrusco at Pour Favor's March Wine & Style eventFolks have been coming by the shop with great gusto for warmer temps;  and they have been seeking out red wines for the occasion! No, we're not just talking about "BBQ wines". We're talking about wines to sip and enjoy with or without a meal while you sit on your porch watching the sun go down. Today I'm going to share some lesser known varietals or unique regional offerings (hybrids or blends) perfect for just such an occasion. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is taking this list (or a modified version, as you see fit) to your local shop to see which offerings they have on offer. These are some cool wines to keep your summer fresh - but they aren't necessarily available at every shop. They are, no less, worth seeking out.

Zweigelt. Austrian fruity goodness. Some earth. Often a touch tart. Lively. A hybrid of  St.-Laurent and Blaufrankish.

Dole. A Swiss wine, which blends Pinot Noir and Gamay. Fresh, ripe redberry fruits and cherries. Distinct in its own right, it has a unique identity I think many palates will embrace.

Dornfelder. Some argue this is the new "hottness" out of Germany. Another red berry-fruited wonder, but with a great spice. Terrifically light on its feet - without ever leaving planet Earth.

Gamay. Low tannin, light style red. Very fruity and THE grape in Beaujolais red wines. Seek out Beaujolais Villages offerings to get a bit more depth in your glass (aka a dash of Burgundian earthiness).

Lambrusco. An Italian, frizzante style wine. Vinified sweet and dry - so ask to accommodate your taste or intentions. A lovely spectrum of depth and redberry fruit flavors on the market.

Some of these may be familiar to you as we've bantered about several in the past. But I've been known to get stuck in traditional ruts when on a mission for an aperitif or a lighter style red to accompany a meal on a hot day. So, go on! It's a big bad world of refreshing RED wine out there.  Remember these options and... experiment!

What other reds do you like on a hot day? There are several more out there... please chime in!



another German wine find! Dornfelder now under our belts and the trees about to budbreak, what could be more natural than musing a bit on a somewhat random,  German, hybrid, white varietal? Scheurebe! It's fun to say (shoe-ray-bay) and even more fun to drink! A couple of weeks ago I was inspired to bring home a bottle of the 2007 Forster Schnepfenflug A.D. WSTR Scheurebe Kabinett. That night I simply wanted a wallet-friendly pick-me-up wine.  I wasn't even having anything particularly exciting for dinner - I just wanted a little something to sip while I cooked and then work well enough with whatever culinary creation I managed.  Scheurebe is fairly versatile. It has a bit of weight to it (perfect for Spring), offers honey aromas, ripe peach and citrus flavors and a touch of spiced minerality. The Forster's acidity is not overwhelming, making it a solid cocktail wine: no food is required to really enjoy it.

Based on the flavor profile above, you probably won't be shocked to learn Scheurebe is a German hybrid varietal with Riesling thought to be one of the parent grapes. Often enough these wines have a touch of sweetness to them, too. The Forster, clocking in at relatively low 10.5% alcohol, certainly falls into the off-dry category.  (Unlike it's Riesling parent, Scheurebe isn't known for high acidity, as mentioned above. This makes me wonder who its other parent is! As yet, it's not clear who's the daddy, as Silvaner has been recently ruled out.)

But best of all, because Scheurebe is a hardier grape than Riesling, it has staying power in the vineyard. It is resistant to the colder elements, commands decent yields, and can grow in less desireable areas. This means you can get the wine for less. Consider it "recession proof"!

Have you tried Scheurebe? What was your impression?



A wine for wine nerds - or to intrigue your dinner guests

Oatmeal cookie comfort. Thanks to Kitchen Witch for the photo.I quite enjoy reading whatever "varietal character" Appellation America comes up with for various grapes. Sometimes I agree with their take and sometimes I don't; (their impression is America-centric, so often the grape varietals I differ about show different characteristics when left in the Old Country, where I'm more often sipping). But they are always pretty darn entertaining. Enter Dornfelder, described by Appellation America as the latest action hero out of Germany. In your most recent role as 'the Germinator' all the older German stars seemed pale by comparison. Who knows how big you'll become, bulking up with each appearance. To think the critics suggested 'Nouveau Beaujolais-sequel' in their initial reviews. How mistaken they were! In less comical speak? Dornfelder is a German hybrid of two other grapes, which were also scientific experiments at the Weinsberg breeding institute. You'd think this particular grape might be so far (genetically) from anything "real" so as to lose itself, but I've found this grape could, in fact, live up to Appellation America's "The Germinator" description. This is what I call a "nerd wine" - but I argue this one is both for the wine lover and anyone new to fermented grape juice.

How so? This grape can create wines that are definitely vibrant-colored, floral nose-packing, juicy ripe-fruited wonders. For a country where the climate is a bit tricky for optimal fruit ripening, this grape does just fine - in fact ripening early enough in the season a late frost is no worry. It is also quite resilient. Like the Zweigelt grape in Austria, Dornfelder stares down vine diseases with relative ease.  And yields are prolific enough viticulturists and winemakers alike aren't sweating it out, pressing every last drop of juice from the skins to make enough wine to make Dornfelder worth their efforts. Happiness in a glass, I should think!

One of my favorite reps came by with the Diehl Dornfelder 2007 at the start of the new year. These are 1 Liter bottles (extra juice!) that in the MA market would go for about $16.99. My notes were simple: "YUM. Bright red fruits - raspberry flavors abound - and a nice touch of spiced minerality." Last week I tasted the Windisch Dornfelder 2007, which offered a touch more depth even and darker fruit flavors - and for less dinero ($10.99). The nose was much more floral, too. Quite surprising for the money.

Despite my fairly limited Dornfelder tasting experience, I have a hard time not agreeing with the "experts" about this wine's general characteristics. They suggest the best of these offerings have connotations of good Beaujolais village, particularly in terms of weight (on the lighter side, more like a Pinot Noir) and fruit vibrancy or ripeness.  The minerality and spices I've found in the two I've tasted most recently suggest something entirely its own, too - not old world earthy/barnyard, but something warming and familiar, like Grandma's spiced oatmeal cookies.

I know Dornfelder is extremely rare here in the states so I did a quick bit of research among my friends/colleagues in the trade. Word on the street is there are only four offerings available (in Massachusetts). But this doesn't mean you shouldn't keep an eye out for them on restaurant wine lists (a good match for many dishes). Better yet, ask your local buyer what finds they have (or can get) in stock. Then treat your dinner guests to a glass!

Which Dornfelders have you tasted? Any favorites - or is this something new you might try?