It’s the day before the Thanksgiving holiday in the US.  It’s my favorite holiday (and to a certain extent, my favorite time) of the year.  Up until recently, anyway, it’s been the one holiday that is about gathering with family and friends around a table, sharing a great meal, stories, and perhaps a few bottles of wine.  I’ve been blessed with a wonderful family, and Thanksgiving dinners are some of my fondest family memories.   This year, my wife and I have inherited the tradition of hosting dinner from my Aunt (Auntie!).

We follow a very traditional meal plan; we’re cooking a turkey, and we’ll have many traditional accompaniments.   We love to serve and share wine, and feel the wine should be as good and as special as the food.

Many people get hung up on the diversity of the meal.  What goes with turkey?  Does it also go with the stuffing and the greens?  What about the sweet potatoes?   There’s no reason to worry; I think the diversity of the meal actually makes it easier to pick wine.  The secret:  serve something great!  A good wine (with a good story), will “go” with everything.  I also think that serving wine from the US is fitting given the origin of the holiday, but we’re breaking that guideline a bit this year

Here’s what we’re serving::


All good parties start with Champagne.  This is going to be a good party.

Chilean Sauvignon Blanc

I happen to have a few bottles (courtesy of my friends at The Thomas Collective and Wines of Chile).  It’s a great pairing with oysters, and some of them have a little richness that will go with an oyster stuffing.  They are also fantastic aperitif, of course, and crowd pleasers.  Bonus:  They tend to be inexpensive.


Most people recommend Riesling, as it’s very food friendly and can have a little sweetness.  We’re going with Vouvray this year, as Chenin Blanc has the same qualities, but I think tends to have a bit more richness along with the versatility.   Plus, we happen to love it, and it’s often eye opening for folks who haven’t had it before.

California Chardonnay

I think this is one of the wines you really must have on the table at Thanksgiving.  I steer clear of over oaked (typical) California Chardonnay in favor of some more subtle and austere varieties.  However, one of the nice things about serving Vouvray is that it can hold it’s own in place of Chardonnay, if you’re trying to lower your SKUs, so to speak.

American Pinot Noir

I struggle to find affordable Pinot from the US that’s good.  It is often over extracted, too fruity, and mass produced because everyone saw or heard about ‘Sideways’ and decided Pinot was what the cool kids drink.  However, there are some more austere varieties out there.  They tend to remain on the fruity side, which is a crowd pleaser, and really are the great versatile food match for the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

California Cabernet

In my opinion, this is the ultimate American wine, and should be on the table for the ultimate American holiday.  We tend to serve something really special here; something from a vineyard we’ve visited in Napa, something from a vintage we remember.   While perhaps not exactly the best food match, there is a lot of richness on the table, and if it’s a wine you love, it’s fun to share.

The most important thing to remember:  drink what you love.  Drink something that evokes some emotion.  Drink something you want to share with people you love.

This? Outstanding, food friendly, and under $20!


Easy drinking Rose

Rose can be a little daunting to navigate, but this is great stuff. Easy drinking, juicy, great fruit, but with some mineral backbone. Inexpensive, too!


This bottle was a gift from a close French friend, Marie, who visited me and my family in Worthington, Ohio, as part of her 3-week US road trip vacation. She was visiting from Paris. Merci beaucoup Marie!!!

“Givry, famous as the preferred wine of King Henri IV, produces mostly red wine in the Côte Chalonnaise district of Burgundy. The rare white wines, a tenth of the total production (predominantly with Chardonnay), are often particularly interesting with a soft bouquet reminiscent of licorice. The reds have more structure and ability to age than those of neighboring Rully, but less depth than Mercurey. About one-sixth of the vineyard area is designated Premier Cru, including Clos Marceaux, Clos Salomon and Clos Jus.” (Source: The Oxford Companion to Wine)

Remoissenet Père & Fils Givry Blanc 2011
Tasting Notes: 100% Chardonnay, 13% vol. Golden honey hue in the glass. Very fresh, pleasant and mildly herbaceous on the nose, balanced by a fruity richness with notes of peach, citrus fruits and subtle sweet spices. Juicy and well-balanced tartness on the palate with flavors of green apples, fresh lemons and oranges and mild notes of green grass. A fairly straight-forward, unassuming and very enjoyable wine, perfect for sipping on the porch or pairing with shell fish, white fish or other light fair.
Rating: 15/20 (89/100)
Price: ~US$ 30 @ Nicolas in Paris

Thanks to a very generous invitation from The Andersons Sawmill Wine Shop, I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s Vanguard Wines “Grand Portfolio Tasting”, near Downtown Columbus, Ohio. Vanguard Wines is one of the largest (if not the largest) wine importers to Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. And they have a great selection to boot! This year the event featured over 50 winemakers from Argentina, France, Italy, Spain and the US. Since this is a trade only tasting, most of the producers are represented by the actual owner/winemaker, making for a much more authentic experience and vinous journey. I had a blast and managed to taste and spit my way though 33 whites and 45 reds. Below is my breakdown.


My Favorite Whites

Alphonse Mellot, “Generation Dis Neuf”, Sancerre 2011 – $70
Jean-Marc Brocard, “Valourent”, Chablis 1er Cru 2010 – $43
Jean-Marc Brocard, “Valmur”, Chablis Grand Cru 2010 – $70
Jean-Marc Brocard, “Les Clos”, Chablis Grand Cru 2010 – $75
Larmandier-Bernier, “Longitude Blanc de Blancs”, 1er Cru Champagne – $53
Larmandier-Bernier, “Vieille Vigne Cramant”, Grand Cru Champagne 2006 – $90
Az. Ag. Campogrande, Cinqueterre 2011 – $55
Tenute Rio Maggio, Telusiano 2012 – $20
Eola Hills, “Vin d’Epice Late Harvest Gewurztraminer”, Oregon 2006 – $27
Ramey Wine Cellars, “Hyde Vineyard” Chardonnay, Carneros 2009 – $65
Ramey Wine Cellars, “Ritchie Vineyard” Chardonnay, Russian River 2009 – $65
Talley Vineyards, “Oliver’s Vineyard” Chardonnay, Edna Valley 2011 – $40

My Favorite Reds

Caldwell Vineyard, “Rocket Science” Red Blend, Napa Valley 2010 – $48
Caldwell Vineyard, “Silver C” Red Blend, Napa Valley 2010 – $105
Antano, Montefalco Rosso Riserva 2009 – $40
Fattoria di Felsina, Chianti Classico Riserva 2009 – $33
Fattoria di Felsina, “Fontalloro” Sangiovese, Toscana 2008 – $60
Allamand Viñas & Vinos, “H”, Mendoza 2010 – $37
Talley Vineyards, “Rincon Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Edna Valley 2011 – $60
Au Bon Climat, “Isabelle” Pinot Noir, California 2010 – $55

The Rest of the Whites

Kamen Wines “Estate Sauvignon Blanc”, Sonoma Mountain 2012
Dom de la Pertuisane, “The Guardian” Grenache Gris, Cotes Catalanes 2012
Alphonse Mellot, “La Mousierre”, Sancerre 2011
Alphonse Mellot, Pouilly-Fume 2011
Alphonse Mellot, “Les Penitents” Chardonnay, Cotes de la Charite 2010
Jean-Marc Brocard, “Montee de Tonnerre”, Chablis 1er Cru 2010
Jean-Marc Brocard, “Vau de Vey”, Chablis 1er Cru 2010
Mas de Daumas Gassac, “Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rosé”, Pays d’Hérault 2012
Mas de Daumas Gassac, “Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Blanc”, Pays d’Hérault 2012
Mas de Daumas Gassac, “Blanc”, Pays d’Hérault 2012
Domaine de Pajot, “Quatre Cepages”, VdP de Cotes de Gascogne 2012
Larmandier-Bernier, “Rosé de Saignee Extra Brut”, 1er Cru Champagne
Marco Cecchini d’Orsaria, “d’Orsaria” Pinot Grigio, 2012
Marco Cecchini d’Orsaria, “Tové”, Tocai Friulano 2009
Allamand Viñas & Vinos, “Cuvee de St. Jeannet”, Valle de Uco 2012
Eola Hills, Pinot Gris, Oregon 2011
Eola Hills, Chardonnay, Oregon 2011
Charles & Charles, Rosé, Columbia Valley 2012
Gotham Project, “Truth or Consequences” Keg Riesling, 2012
Ramey Wine Cellars, Chardonnay, Russian River 2010
Talley Vineyards, “Estate Chardonnay”, Arroyo Grande 2011

The Rest of the Reds

Cliff Lede Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District 2010
Crocker & Starr, “Stone Place” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2010
Kamen Wines, “Estate Cabernet Sauvignon”, Sonoma Mountain 2010
Lang & Reed, Cabernet Franc, North Coast 2010
Lang & Reed, “Two Fourteen” Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley 2010
Lail Vineyards, “Blueprint” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2011
Lail Vineyards, “J. Daniel Cuvee” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2010
Dom de la Pertuisane, “Le Nain Violet” Grenache Noir, Cote Catalanes 2011
Mas de Daumas Gassac, “Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rouge”, Pays d’Hérault 2012
Mas de Daumas Gassac, “Rouge”, Pays d’Hérault 2011
Marco Cecchini d’Orsaria, “Refosco”, 2008
Antano, Montefalco Rosso 2010
Cascina Ca’Rossa, “Langhe” Nebbiolo, 2010
Cascina Ca’Rossa, “Auginaggio” Roero, 2010
Cascina Ca’Rossa, “Mompissano” Roero, 2009
Elio Altare, Dolcetto d’Alba 2012
Elio Altare, Barbera d’Alba 2012
Elio Altare, “L’Insieme”, 2010
Elio Altare, Barolo 2009
Elio Altare, “Cerretta”, Barolo 2007
Mauro Veglio, Dolcetto d’Alba 2012
Mauro Veglio, Barbera d’Alba 2012
Mauro Veglio, “Vigneto Arborina”, Barolo 2009
Mauro Veglio, “Castelletto”, Barolo 2009
Mauro Veglio, “Vigneto Gattera”, Barolo 2009
Fattoria di Felsina, Chianti Classico 2010
Fattoria di Felsina, “Rancia”, Chianti Classico Riserva 2009
La Rioja Alta, “Viña Alberdi”, Rioja 2006
La Rioja Alta, “Viña Ardanza”, Rioja 2004
La Rioja Alta, “Gran Reserva 904”, Rioja 2001
Allamand Viñas & Vinos, Malbec, Valle de Uco 2012
Allamand Viñas & Vinos, Cabernet Sauvignon, Valle de Uco 2012
Charles & Charles, Red Blend, Columbia Valley 2011
Gotham Project, “El Rede” Keg Malbec, 2012
Talley Vineyards, “Estate Pinot Noir”, Arroyo Grande 2011
Au Bon Climat, Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara 2011
Au Bon Climat, “La Bauge au-Dessus” Pinot Noir, Santa Mari 2009

Thanks again to Silvia, Chuck, Bob and the rest of the team at The Andersons Sawmill Wine Shop!


By Sarah James

So, you’ve been thinking about those beautiful apartments in Paris, thinking about whether or not the time has come for a hop over the North Sea. The kids have all flown the nest, you don’t enjoy your job anymore and it just feels like there’s nothing holding you back from going all European for the next twenty years of your life.

Wait a minute.

Are you doing your deliberating without a glass of vintage red in one hand? If so, you’ve got a lot to learn before you can qualify for a life in Paris and it starts with knowing your Beaujolais from your Pinot Meunier and your Riesling from your Colombard. Here’s a guide to five French wines that you absolutely MUST try before you die. These wines are the clearest sign we have that life is ever strange and wonderful but that alcohol is better.

Château Lafite Rothschild Pauillac 1996 

Le Château Lafite Rothschild is a wine estate in France that dates back to the 19th century. According to Wikipedia, the word ‘lafite’ means small hill and this castle on the hill is one of the France’s most prized. The château Lafite Rothschild Pauillac consistently tops lists designed to find and identify the best wines in the world.

Unfortunately, it also tops lists of the most expensive too. However, you get what you pay for with this red – it is simply superb. Flavourful and silky, with a slightly dark, smoky aroma – this vintage red leaves a taste that lingers for a long time.

Château Prieuré-Lichine 1982

This bold, peppery red is from the Margaux region of Bordeaux and was actually made under the supervision of the infamous Russian wine writer and entrepreneur Alexis Lichine. As a former student at the University of Pennsylvania, Lichine knew first hand just how ignorant Americans were about fine wine and he took it upon himself to change that. According to Yahoo Voices journalist Anne Wright, Lichine is praised with helping to make Americans aware of French wine. This 1982 red is a classic and is recommended for its extremely silky texture and subtle balance of flavours. It’s expensive but it won’t cost you your mortgage like several of the other entries on this list.

Château Latour 1949

Latour is a name that’s synonymous with quality in France. Grapes have been cultivated on this wine estate since the 14th century and Latour wines are especially renowned. They’re very rare and extremely expensive, so if you ever run into a glass – make sure you enjoy it. Critics have called the 1949 red an opulent, voluptuous wine that flirts with perfection at times. A six litre bottle of Château Latour sold for a whopping £135,000 at auction in 2011.

Château Le Pin Pomerol 1999

Château Le Pin is the name of a wine estate located right on the banks of the Gironde estuary. Wines from this estate are highly prized by dedicated collectors who are usually willing to pay thousands of dollars for just one bottle, says Ask Men journalist Matthew Simpson. This is mainly due to the fact that the wines produced by Château Le Pin are considered to be ‘garage wines’ – they come from a mid 90’s desire to change the taste of French red wine. Though widely criticised by purists, this movement was actually very successful and the wines it still creates are highly sought after. This 1999 Pomerol is famed for its hints of mocha, currant and black cherry.

Château Margaux 1995

This bold red is almost jet black in colour, making it a curious and dramatic wine to indulge in. It has quite a racy flavour, punctuated by notes of cherry and blackberry. This 1995 is powerful stuff and you’d do well to enjoy it slowly. It’s definitely one for sipping with dark meats or rich chocolate desserts. Why not combine all three in a romantic meal on the balcony of that apartment in Paris you’ve been thinking about? Book a holiday now and you could be there in a few weeks time.

Author Bio: Sarah is a wine critic and expat living in France. She recommends Chez Nous for a great range of accommodation and holiday apartments in Paris. Sarah can be found blogging about a variety of holidays around Europe.

Every month or so I return to The Andersons – one of the best wine selections in Central Ohio – to replenish my dad and I’s wine fix. Normally, I’m greeted by Chuck, a very pleasant and very knowledgeable wine associate. This time around I ran into Silvia, the Sommelier in charge. She was equally friendly and knowledgeable and helped me make a great selection. We struck up a very interesting conversation about her family vineyard in Romania and her vinous journey through Florida, Virginia and all the way up to Central Ohio! Born and raised in Romania, Silvia naturally wanted to share with me some of her country’s vinous love. She picked out a red and a white. I’ll be presenting the white today, which is a wine made from the Feteasca Regala grape, grown and vinified in the Târnave region.

Producing predominantly white wines, Târnave is a controlled appellation of origin within Transylvania, and is the most important and oldest wine region in the area. Târnave is home to Romania’s coolest vineyards and, similar to the Mosel region in Germany, the vineyards rest on remarkably steep slopes. The wines tend to share the high acidity, commonly found in Mosel valley wines. The Feteasca Regala varietal is exclusively Romanian, created in the 1930s from a cross between the Grasa and Feteasca Alba grapes. Feteasca Regala is one of Romania’s most widely planted grape varietals. So without further ado…

Jidvei “Feteasca Regala” Târnave 2011
Tasting Notes: 100% Feteasca Regala, aged a few months in oak barrels and stainless steel vessels, 12% vol. Light, golden straw yellow in the glass. Bright and fresh notes of peaches, lemons, picante and a lure of fresh meadows. There’s an overall sweet-citrusy, Summer-like appeal. The nose drew me in. This wine is bone dry with a pronounced tartness, displaying sour apple Jolly Rancher flavors, followed by lemons and peaches. A silky smooth texture accompanies the tartness. The palate is also mildly herbaceous, with notes of fresh green grass. A bit linear, despite all my notes, but this makes for a very refreshing Sunny-day wine. I can see myself lounging on the porch under the sun with a nice book or some good company.
Rating: 14/20 (87/100)
Price: under US$10 @ The Andersons Sawmill Wine Shop


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,364 other followers