May 20, 2019

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Even Bad Jokes Can Make Good Thanksgiving Wines

Even Bad Jokes Can Make Good Thanksgiving Wines
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As much wisdom as we have acquired over the years (by all means look up past columns for additional suggestions), our wine panel does not always adhere to it. My conjecture is that it’s no fun to bring the sure things: the Beaujolais and dry sauvignon blancs, the Loire reds and Italian whites, the barberas, Chiantis, pinot noirs and cabernet francs from the Finger Lakes.

The challenge is to add to the list. Julia succeeded admirably, at least with one of her wines, which turned out to be our top white. It was the 2016 Cuvée de O from Avancia, made from godello grapes grown in the Valdeorras region of Galicia, in northwestern Spain.

Godello is a grape that practically disappeared from Spain in the mid-20th century before it was resurrected, and this wine, with its texture, energy and touch of bitterness, showed why it’s now considered a rising star.

“It’s got great balance, and is perfect for people who like wines that aren’t fruity,” Julia said.

The grapes that make such wines are often described as “neutral,” not a word dreamed up in the marketing department. Yet these neutral wines, emphasizing texture and savory flavors over extravagant fruit, go beautifully at Thanksgiving. Another option to consider might be the chardonnays of the Mâconnais region of Burgundy.

Neutral would also describe our No. 2 white, the 2015 pinot blanc from the excellent Eyrie Vineyard in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. It’s a subtle, floral and mineral wine, which I brought and which Pete called “moody.”

Florence’s white, the 2017 Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Blanc from Mas de Daumas Gassac in the Languedoc, was actually a tried-and-true style, and it showed why. The wine, made about equally of sauvignon blanc, grenache blanc and clairette, was lively and pungent, and would be a crowd pleaser. At just $11 a bottle, it was also our best value among the whites.

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