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Thanksgiving Day Wines

A rather large group of us gathered at my mom’s house for Thanksgiving.  After bottles of French sparkling wine and rose we sat down for our turkey and ham dinner.


For this part, I thought a pair of Chateauneuf du Pape magnums would be festive.  The 1998 Domaine de Beaurenard, Chateauneuf du Pape was by far the favorite and as such it was finished off by steadily application.  It is appropriately mature for age and format leaning towards dry rather than ripe flavor.  It is a very solid wine for drinking now.  There was a good measure of the 2010 Chapelle St. Theodoric, La Guigasse, Chateauneuf du Pape leftover for me to taste on the second night.  On that night it was significantly improved.  The wine is young tasting in that it is all about pure fruit flavors but the lack of noticeable structure tricks you into thinking you should start drinking it after removing the cork. Instead this needs significant air to exhibit its savory, weighty, and textured flavor.  I really liked it at this point.


1998 Domaine de Beaurenard, Chateauneuf du Pape en magnum
Imported by New Castle Imports. 70% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah, 4% Cinsault, and other varieties. Alcohol 14%.  Rather dark on the nose with attractive, maturing aromas that are spiced and mix in some licorice.  In the mouth this is a dry, focused wine with black and blue fruit with an appropriate amount of wood box notes and baking spices.The wine moves due to salivating acidity and it even has structure.  The tight density suggests it will last but I suspect it will only dry out with age.  *** Now – 2021.


2010 Chapelle St. Theodoric, La Guigasse, Chateauneuf du Pape en magnum
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This is 100% Grenache sourced from 50 year old vines of the La Guigasse vineyard.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The kirsch aromas are pure on the nose and lovely.  With air this wine is almost thick with Kirsch flavored fruit.  There is good fruit weight and texture on the tongue with just the right amount of acidity to lift.  It takes on finely textured and ripe flavors of plum which soon leave the impression of extract.  It is ultimately a savory, weighty wine where you do not notice the structure.  Markedly better on the second night.  ***(*) 2018-2024.

My mom left the choice of red wines up to me but for dessert she requested Port.  As we had a diverse group I thought it would be fun to open a fruitier Vintage Port and a Tawny Port.  I must admit that I am beginning to accept that a Port from the mid 1980s may be ready to drink so to crack open the 1995 Smith Woodhouse, Madalena, Vintage Port seemed like an exercise in infanticide.  It wasn’t!  It is fruity wine that is densely packed with flavor and spices.  The suppleness is attractive for the acidity and structure do not stand out.  The NV Grahams, 20 Year Old Tawny  Port, with its older label, was bottled in 1998.  I mistakenly did not decant this wine so the very fine sediment became stirred up.  It is still an apricot and orange fruit driven tawny port.  The t-stopper cork is bit fragile and so is the wine at this age for it shows some heat in the end.  A solid but not moving experience.


1995 Smith Woodhouse, Madalena, Vintage Port
Imported by Premium Port Wines.  Alcohol 20%.  A medium red garnet.  Sweet, dense, flavors soon build both complexity and intensity in the mouth.  A bit racy, certainly supple with holiday spices overlaying the fruit.  A long, drier aftertaste with salivating acidity and dark fruit.  ***(*) Now – 2026.


NV Grahams, 20 Year Old Tawny  Port
Imported. Bottled 1998.  A slightly cloudy, apricot tawny color probably the result of not decanting off the sediment.  Not too sweet of an entry balanced by the right amount of viscosity.  A surprising amount of apricot and orange fruit.  Clearly a tawny with an interesting twist away from nuts.  A touch of heat breaks through in the end.  *** Now.

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