Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving Norman Rockwell

The wine cellar is choc-full of “special occasion” wines. Some bottles have this emotional designation because of the cost, while others carry rich sentiment because of the place or experience when the wines were purchased. It’s funny how life circumstances can redefine just about everything, including what constitutes a “special occasion.” As previously penned, TUESDAY is a special occasion!  Each day, each moment ought to be experienced as special, sacred, pure gift, because each moment IS a gift!

Nevertheless, there are occasions that are widely accepted as “special” because of who gathers around the table, the feast that is spread, and the communal experience of gratitude.  Thanksgiving is, of course, one of these celebrations. If we cellarmasters don’t share our finest wines on these occasions, then we ought to have a serious conversation with Dicken’s Ebenezer Scrooge.

Friends and family gathered once again in our home to prepare and share a fantastic feast.  Each person is to bring or prepare the dishes that, without that item being part of the feast, it would simply not be “Thanksgiving.” Our buffet included the obligatory turkey (prepared on the Big Green Egg – my own “must have”), stuffing reminiscent of one guest’s grandmother’s recipe, sweet potato “pudding” (a nod to another’s semi-Southern roots), and a cranberry salad that hinted at yet another’s grandmother’s “pond scum” (yes, it’s a thing — known as “green stuff” in my own childhood). Cheese plates, dips, mashed potatoes, gravy, salads, vegetables, rolls, pies, and even the seventh-grade home ec class recipe for “Poco Pepper Snacks” — it was one menagerie of a feast! And what a feast it was — a feast of food, a feast of deep love, and a feast of gratitude.  Oh, and a feast of wine, of course!

The wines of Thanksgiving 2015:

Dragonette 2013 Rose


2013 Dragonette Cellars Rose
Light and festive wine to celebrate cooking and preparation of Thanksgiving Dinner 2015. Fresh fruit (strawberries, raspberries) with citrus and wildflower notes in the nose and mouth. So easily drinkable and reminiscent of summer days even in chilly autumn!

Saarloos Loos Bubbles 2009

2009 Saarloos & Sons Loos Bubbles
A delightful bit of bubbly to toast friends and family gathered for our Thanksgiving feast. Words of gratitude to guests as this bright rose was poured into each stem, then a collective “Cheers!” as we realized the depths of our “thanksgiving.” The wine embodied this sense of gratitude — grown, crafted, bottled, and released as a gift from one family to others. In the words of the winemaker, “Loos is a celebratory wine befitting life’s greatest milestones and we believe that it should only be opened for such moments.” The “label” consists of the words “Loos Bubbles” and the winemaker’s signature scrawled on the bottles with a gold metallic marker. Personal. Unpretentious. Gift.

So it is with the wine itself. Not one of the world’s greatest sparkling wines, but truly a celebration in a bottle. Bright, fruity, balanced, and pleasant in every way. Gratitude in a bottle!

Evan's Ranch 2004 Chardonnay Las Brisas

2005 Evan’s Ranch Chardonnay Las Brisas Vineyard
Notes coming soon

Sea Smoke 2010 Pinot Noir Ten

2010 Sea Smoke Pinot Noir Ten
Notes coming soon

Domaine du Pegau 2004 Chateneuf du Pape


2004 Domaine du Pégaü Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réservée
Notes coming soon

2008 Kaena Hapa

2008 Kaena Hapa
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley

Wine Rating: 93

Uncorked: 2011.07.02  Shared with friends in celebration of Barry & Mary’s 50th Anniversary and Renewal of Vows

An extraordinary wine for an extraordinary occasion — celebration of friends’ 50 years of marriage and renewal of their vows.  This wine is young and verile with layer upon layer of explosive aromas and flavors.  The Syrah and Grenache lead this wine with potent fruit and solid backbone — dark red cherry, blackberry, and ripe plum with deep earthiness.  The addition of Cabernet Sauvignon to this blend adds dimension and structure — a long finish with solid tanins.  Like a long marriage, this wine will develop, soften, and become more nuanced with time.  It is certainly “rarin’ to go” right out of the bottle and was wothy of the celebration for which it was opened.

$37.00 / $29.60 (club price)   from Mikael Sigouin (winemaker) at Kaena Wine Company

Kaena Wine Company Website

Two Summer Rosés: Kaena & Tercero

While we didn’t slice any watermelon, we had the chance last evening to enjoy and compare two of my favorite Central Coast Rosés with some discerning friends. It was a warm summer evening here in NE Ohio and the wines were well-chilled. Both wines were a hit and the differences in the two wines was appreciated.  The wines were the perfect excuse to gather some friends and neighbors on our front porch, demonstrating once again the way the wine can help bring people together and generate conversations and experiences that begin with the wine itself and then propel into deeper parts of our lives.  Simple summer wine creating community!  Love it!

 Here are the wines:

Kaena Label 

2010 Kaena Grenache Rosé

USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley

Wine Rating: 92

Uncorked: 2011.07.03   Drank with friends on the front porch

Served well-chilled on a warm summer afternoon on the porch with friends. Gorgeous salmon color with ripe raspberry and watermelon fruit in the nose. Crisp, aromatic, and layers of flavors. Fruit hints in the nose carry through the palate with added complexity of dark, juicy blackberry or ripe plum. The sensation in the mouth is wonderful — fresh fruit flavors with bright, crisp acidity, followed by a surprising plunge into an almost rich flavor and texture sensation. The wine didn’t stay at the top of my palate — it went deeper than I expected with a bright, crisp rose. Everything about this wine is balanced, textured, refreshing, bright, and wonderful. It has risen quickly to be one of my favorite summer rosés!

$18.00  Kaena Wine Company

Kaena Wine Company Website

Tercero Rose 2009

2009 Tercero Grenache|Mourvèdre Rosé

USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County

Wine Rating: 90

Uncorked: 2011.07.03  Drank with friends on the front porch

This wine is consistently one of my favorite warm summer day sippers. It is bright and beautiful in color, aromas, and flavors. Strawberries and watermelon with crisp acidity and brightness. There is subtlety in the flavors of this wine that I almost hate to mute with food pairings — I enjoy drinking this one on its own, though it is a great match with cheeses, salads, and light fish. It remains a top choice for warm summer evenings on the back deck.

$15.00 Tercero Wines

Tercero Wines Website

2007 Ampelos Pinot Noir Lambda

2007 Ampelos Pinot Noir Lambda Sta Rita Hills
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills

Wine Rating: 92

Uncorked: 2011.06.24  Dinner at home – served with grilled grass-fed tri-tip, grilled artichoke
The wine is clean and vibrant, almost ascetic or austere. It’s a “pure” tasting Pinot Noir that reflects the wine making intentions of Peter and Rebecca Work. Gorgeous fruit and balanced acidity, subtle oak and hints of SRH terroir. While the wine is a medium-bodied Pinot, it went perfectly with food off the Big Green Egg, particularly the grilled artichokes. A lovely wine and a valuable study in the essence of Pinot Noir.

I visited Rebecca Work at Ampelos again a week and a half ago.  She and her husband Peter inspire a fresh look and taste of old world wines made in a sustainable, biodynamic, and organic manner.  Eschewing more popular or market-friendly (i.e. consumer- and market-oriented or “grocery store”) styles of viticulture and wine making, they have made a commitment to gentle technique that does no harm to the wine, the vine, or the world in which we live.  The respect they demonstrate to each environment — the vineyard, the winery, the bottle, as well as the earth — is captured in the wine itself.  The wine compels reflection and respect in return.  But it’s not just an expression or an experiment — this is terrific wine made by people whose mission and vision I am honored to support.

Peter and Rebecca were both very helpful in my doctoral research.  I raise my glass this evening in thanks and with great respect for the wine making passions at Ampelos!

$35.00 / $29.75 (club price)   from the Ampelos Filos Wine Club

Ampelos Cellars and Vineyard Website

2006 Tercero Cuvee Christie

2006 Tercero Cuvee Christie
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County

Wine Rating: 92

Uncorked: 2011.06.19  Dinner at home – served with grilled grass-fed steak
Loved this wine with dinner tonight — it is perfectly mature and opulent. Served with grass fed beef New York strip steaks from the farmer’s market, grilled artichokes, and farm fresh corn on the cob. The food was big flavors with tender elements in each — and the wine was a perfect match. It is big, bold, juicy, peppery, and dark while at the same time elegant, layered, and mysterious. This wine is gorgeous, silky, vibrant, and rich. So glad there are several more bottles in the cellar!

$28.00  purchased from the winery

Tercero Wines Website

2008 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir Clone 667 La Encantada Vineyard


2008 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir Clone 667 La Encantada Vineyard
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills

Wine Rating: 93

Uncorked: 2008.08.18 Chesapeake Bay’s Eastern Shore – Julie’s Birthday Dinner
This wine immediately transports me to the Santa Ynez Valley. New World wines are not noted for their terroir, but this wine demonstrates that the ground from which the grapes grew CAN be captured even in the Santa Rita Hills. My nose was greeted by earthy aromas along with generous fruit and restrained oak. I couldn’t tarry long before sipping this wine — it beckoned to be tasted. The wine teased my mouth. Nothing was overblown or blatent. Everything about this wine is evocative. Cherries and ripe raspberries to be sure, but so much more — layer upon layer of fruit, loamy earth, spice, more fruit, and wet stones. Great balance and solid structure through the whole taste. Supple tannins with a lingering finish. The enchantment of “La Encantada” is evidenced in this bottle of wine.

$43.00 Alma Rosa Cellar Club

Alma Rosa Winery Website

2009 Tercero Gewürztraminer “The Outlier”

2009 Tercero Gewürztraminer “The Outlier”
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County

Wine Rating: 92

Uncorked: 2010.08.27 Just sipping on the front porch
The Outlier has become one of my favorite summer wines. It is the perfect choice for easy sipping on the back deck or for pairing with a fresh salad or cheese tray. Aromatic on the nose, bountiful in the mouth. Perfectly dry with an amazing amount of ripe fruit flavors — a magical feat of extracting all of the flavors of the grape and leaving nearly no sweetness. Stone fruit, citrus, and pear with lots of minerality. Nothing but enjoyment in this bottle of wine.

$20.00 Tercero Wines

Tercero Wines Website