This year has certainly been a stressful and unnerving time for everyone. Our dependable way of life has been thrown into chaos with no foreseeable return to normalcy anytime soon. Traditional Thanksgiving festivities will be adapted to conform to the pandemic protocols just like every other holiday or event had to do in 2020. Since our Thanksgiving dinners will hopefully be celebrated with a smaller gathering of friends and family then why shouldn’t we treat ourselves with good wine?
A Chardonnay with a touch of oak will stand up to all the flavor profiles of a family-style turkey dinner. My choice for a Chardonnay with all the right characteristics is Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay 2018. This California Chardonnay shows well in the glass with an alluring straw color and aromas of oak, apple, and vanilla. It has a good structure that supports flavors of apple, pear, melon, and, citrus that are accentuated by its medium acidity.
Often you need a red wine as a counterpoint to the white wine you are serving your guests. Saldo Zinfandel 2018 by the Prisoner Wine Company will accent your table with its beautiful ruby color and notes of oak. The flavors of dark fruit on a balanced bold body, supple tannins, and mouthwatering acidity are certain to please your red wine lovers. TIP: Decant before serving.
For me, no Thanksgiving dinner would be complete without a Riesling on the table. If you have read my blog then it is no secret that I like Finger Lakes Riesling but they can be hard to find. The two wines I have recommended are substantially above the price point I tend to cover so when I need to buy multiple bottles I have found this Washington State Riesling to be a great pick to fill that need. My go-to Washington Riesling for value and taste is Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling 2019. This Riesling is made in a very approachable style that can be enjoyed by just about anyone. It is easy to drink with crisp acidity and flavors of citrus, tropical fruit, and peach. The price point is in the $10-$14 range.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and please stay safe.
Sometimes I like to go back and taste wines that I drank often years ago but somehow moved on from or just lost interest in. Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling is one of those wines. When I revisit certain wines I realize why I don’t buy them anymore but with some like this Riesling, they seem to hold up and remind me how my tastes have and have not evolved.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling has been a reliable white wine from Washington’s Columbia Valley for years and because it is widely available it can be easily overlooked as a very drinkable option for the money. Riesling is often referred to as a “wine lovers grape” because with all of it’s outstanding qualities and punctuated by the fact it might be the most food-friendly of all wines it has never gained acceptance with causal wine drinkers. I once heard a CEO of Altria, the corporation that owns Chateau Ste. Michelle, describe the wineries in that group as ” a string of pearls”. Quite a fitting compliment when you consider they have managed to maintain a level of quality and consistency that is extremely difficult when you consider the scale of the operation.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling 2018 Columbia Valley is not dry by any means but isn’t sweet either. This wine offers ample body, flavors of peach and citrus that are enhanced by just enough acidity to tie it all together. It’s a solid choice when your dinner guests usually don’t drink wine with their meal and you need an approachable wine everyone can enjoy.
If you are unsure of what white wine to serve at any of your gathers play it safe and pick up some bottles of Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling.
With Thanksgiving only a few days away the question of what wine to serve at dinner looms as large as the Garfield balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Over the years the traditional menu for this holiday has evolved for many but the problem of what wine pairs well with everything remains. The answer is that no single wine pairs well with everything. The solution: Buy several different wines and buy more than enough of each without going over your budget. My advice is the same as it would be if you were going bowling, ” Just roll it down the middle”. Here are four suggestions that will certainly score you some points with your friends and family this holiday season.
Loosen Dr. L. Riesling is a great introductory German Riesling from Mosel. It’s not
Loosen Dr. L. Riesling
too dry or too sweet classic style means this low alcohol (8.5%) Riesling pairs well with a Thanksgiving dinner and @ around $13 it won’t “Break the bank”.
Leonard Kreusch-Zeller Schwarze Katz Riesling. This is a very approachable Riesling from a legendary German producer in the Mosel river village of Zell. Fruity, crisp and easy to drink. You can find it for around $10 a bottle so stock up
Leonard Kreusch-Zeller Schwarze Katz Riesling
South Shore Gruner Veltliner is an excellent
South Shore Gruner Veltliner
Pennsylvania Lake Erie Wine Country wine. Fresh aromas and bright acidity make this a very food-friendly wine and a bargain at around $13.
Breitenbach Cranberry wine is both sweet and tart. This wine is always a hit especially with your guests that usually don’t drink wine. These seasonal
Breitenbach Cranberry Wine
offerings can be a little hard to find but worth the extra effort. You should be able to find one of these seasonal wines in the $15-$20 range.
Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and may the good things of life be yours in abundance, not only at Thanksgiving but throughout the coming year.
Riesling has long been a stalwart for anyone frantically searching a wine list to pick a bottle that would pair well with everyone’s dinner. Riesling is hard to beat when you need a versatile food-friendly wine that can be easily found in styles ranging from sweet to bone-dry. In the past this varietal has labored under the misconception that the lower-quality sweet offerings that filled store shelves was the best this grape had to offer. This
view of Riesling has begun to change as world-class Riesling are being added to restaurant wine lists, websites and store shelves worldwide.
Riesling is a cool climate grape that has excels in rocky soils, like the ones found in the Rhine Valley and Mosel Region of Germany and the Alsace region of Northern France for centuries. Wine makers in the Columbia Valley of Washington, the Willamette Valley of Oregon and the Finger Lakes Wine Region of New York have found great success with their Riesling vineyards. All three regions produce very good Riesling, each with its own special personality that is sure to please any wine lovers palate.
You could make a strong case that Riesling with its many incarnations is the most food-friendly of all wines, either red or white. It is the safe choice when following the rules for white wine by pairing it with seafood, chicken and salads. My favorite twist is to pair a sweet Riesling with spicy Mexican, Chinese or Thai cuisine. The extra sweetness cuts through the heat to give balance to your meal.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Dry: Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling 2016. (From a legendary FLX winery that received a Robert Parker Wine Advocate 90pt rating)
Off-Dry: Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling (A trendy favorite with a Wine Spectator 89pts)
Sweet: Chateau Ste. Michelle Harvest Select Riesling 2016 (Wine Spectator 87 pts and a bargain at $10.00 or less)
Boundary Breaks Vineyard Medium Dry 2016 Ovid Line North Riesling is a wine that has slightly sweet start and a smooth finish. It is a balanced wine with enough acidity to keep it from being too sweet. With a 12% A.B.V. and a 2.0 R.S.(residual sugar) the tropical and stone fruit flavors are restrained but noticeable. That bit of sweetness not only makes this Riesling a good choice for sipping but also the perfect match for spicy food especially Asian cuisine. http://boundarybreaks.com
Boundary Breaks sits near the eastern shore of Seneca Lake on Porter Covert Rd in Lodi, N.Y. I have learned if the address includes the word “Covert” it means you can expect to experience the FLX like a local because you will often be driving on narrow gravel roads flanked by breathtaking vineyards and scenic views. It is well worth the time and effort to do the research required to find theses hidden gems located just off the main road because the rewards are always memorable. Boundary Breaks Vineyard is one of those wineries.
On every trip there is one experience that stamps its indelible mark on your memory. On this trip it was meeting Marti Macinski and the time we spent at her Standing Stone Vineyards & Winery. Upon our arrival she greeted us with a genuinely heart-felt welcome. Marti was accompanied by her personable and outgoing intern Griffin Lehman. She lead my wife and I through a tasting of all of her excellent wines. I was very impressed by how good all the wines were. If I were to use one word to describe all of the Standing Stone wines we tasted that day it would be balanced. Balance is very important to me when I taste wine because it allows me to taste all aspects of the wine without having certain overdone or underdeveloped characteristics create a biased wine. When you drink a wine made by Marti Macinski you can taste every nuance of the wine and the terroir of her vineyards.
Her Riesling were some of the best that I tasted in the FLX and I tasted the best Riesling that I have ever tasted there on this visit. I really liked her Saperavi and it confirmed my opinion that this grape has great potential in the Eastern U.S.. She convinced us to try her Ice wine even though we were never fans of Ice wine. We are glad we did because we loved all four of her offerings : Chardonnay, Vidal, Grwürztraminer and Riesling. The entire menu of wines offered by Standing Stone Winery are well crafted and certainly worth your attention when you visit. I can highly recommend a visit to this Seneca Lake winery in Hector N.Y. for anyone attending the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference or someone visiting the area looking for superior wine. Standingstonewines.com 607-582-6051 9934 Rte 414 Hector, N Y 14841
View of Seneca Lake & Vineyards from Standing Stone
Tall bottles of Riesling At Herman J. Wiemer Vineyards
Our drive to Finger Lakes Wine Country took us from the rolling hills of Southwestern Pennsylvania through the center of the state pass Penn State University then into the Northern Tier, home to some of the most rugged and sparsely populated mountains in the East. We crossed the New York state line south of Corning and drove north to our first destination Watkins Glen. Watkins Glen is on the southern tip of Seneca Lake, the largest of the eleven Finger Lakes. We drove up the east side of the lake through a torrential downpour on our way to Wagner’s Vineyards and it’s Ginny Lee Café for lunch while the storm passed. They have a large wine menu ranging from currently popular varieties and blends to Niagara, a regional classic. Wagner’s also has a brewery on site, a growing trend around the lakes. I always manage to find a very drinkable Chardonnay and this year was no different with me purchasing the 2012 Reserve Chardonnay. By the time we had finished lunch the rain had stopped and the skies began to brighten. Before we left the east side we stopped at another winery but found their offerings not as good as other years and we left empty-handed.
We usually stay on Seneca Lake but this trip we stayed at the northern end of Keuka Lake in the small town of Penn Yan. You are constantly skirting the lakes because there are no bridges to mar their natural beauty so good planning is a must to save time and miles. On the way to our hotel we traveled back through Watkins Glen and drove up the west side of Seneca Lake to the world-famous Riesling producer Herman J. Wiemer Vineyards.
I find that many wine makers are limiting or eliminating taste descriptors from their tasting notes. I agree that their overuse has led to people not forming an opinion of their own and I will be using less of them in my posts beginning now.
The Riesling I tasted in the H.J. Wiemer tasting room was as stylishly produced as my surroundings, sophisticated and well-made with depth and balance. These Riesling could be easily matched to a myriad of food or enjoyed by themselves glass after glass. Riesling is what H.J.W. is known for and rightfully so , but the other wines they produce can be easily overlooked because the Riesling is so good. Ignoring the Sparkling, Noble Select Dessert and Reserve wines could cause you to miss out on something very special. Note: The Sparkling wines are aged on lees for up to 72 months, hand-riddled and hand-disgorged. After loading our trunk with our newly found treasures of Riesling and a Rosé Cuvée we were on to Keuka Lake.
The Finger Lakes Wine Region of New York (FLX) is only a 5 hour drive from my home in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Having a World-Class wine-producing region so close provides my wife and me the luxury of making a trip to the area when the mood strikes us. During our trip last week we visited old favorites Herman J. Herman Winery and Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery while adding a new favorite Standing Stone Winery. All three of these wineries produce excellent Riesling along with other notable wines. Cool-climate white wines have always been this region’s claim to fame but on this visit I was curious to see first-hand how the development of the Saperavi grape was progressing. In the following series of posts I will give you my personal take on the wine, grapevines, trends and scenic views I encountered around these glacial lakes. Come along with me and see what’s new in the FLX.
World-famous vintners Paul Hobbs of California and Johannes Selbach of the Mosel valley in Germany have recently announced their partnership in the acquisition of a 65-acre property in the Finger Lakes Wine Region of New York. The new vineyards will be on the southeastern slopes of Seneca Lake overlooking Watkins Glen and will be producing Riesling, the signature grape and wine of the region. The first vines are not expected to be planted until next year, which means that we will have to wait patiently to compare these winemakers style and quality to that of the established FLX producers. I envision this venture providing only positive benefits for the region by drawing curious visitors to the lakes. Once in the area the tourists will soon discover the abundance of world-class wineries that populate the shores of the Finger Lakes. Just like the music fan that goes to a festival to see a star headliner only to find that they like the lesser-known artists even more, I believe this will shine a bright spotlight on these talented winemakers and showcase their exceptional wines.
Tom and Marti Macinski Photo Courtesy: Standing Stone Vineyards
I would like to congratulate the entire Standing Stone Winery family for being chosen to have their 2012 Riesling served at the 2014 Super Bowl Media Party. Standing Stone Winery was also mentioned by James Molesworth in Wine Spectator Magazine this month as a Finger Lakes winery that should be sought out for their excellent Riesling. Martha (Marti) Macinski has again provided me with a candid glimpse inside the winery from her unique perspective as both owner and winemaker.
The winery is relatively calm this time of year but some structural work is being done in the vineyards on the posts and wires so there will be no delay when the time comes to prune and tie the vines. Jess, the assistant winemaker, is planning the upcoming bottling runs along with monitoring the fermentation of the dessert wines. The pressing of the frozen grapes is close to completion with only a small amount left unfinished. Marti is excited about the 2013 vintage calling it “Truly spectacular with lovely ripe and rich flavors, near perfect fruit chemistry to make the winemaking work go smoothly.” Her only problem was figuring out where to put this very abundant crop. Assessment of the vines will be made next week when they will prune as needed to balance out any damage caused by the severe weather. She isn’t expecting to find much of an issue because when the temperature dropped below zero the wind blew hard off the unfrozen lake circulating the “warm” air around the vineyards buffering them from the extreme cold.
I would like to thank Marti for taking the time and effort to keep me informed of the activities at Standing Stone Winery. When you are in the Finger Lakes Region plan a stop at Standing Stone to taste their superb wines and say “Hello” to Marti. www.standingstonewines.com