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IWM hopes you and yours have a joyous, delicious Thanksgiving, and we also hope that if you’re in the New York City area, you’ll join IWM on Black Friday for our complimentary tasting. Space is limited, so contact your portfolio manager to reserve your spot!
Fall is my favorite season and Thanksgiving is most definitely my favorite holiday! As a huge foodie, I enjoy the plethora of ingredients, flavors, textures and aromas that make up the Thanksgiving table. I enjoy being creative in the kitchen, decorating the table, and, of course, choosing the wine.
Similar to choosing music playlists, Thanksgiving offers many options, and you pick your wines to set a mood. For those who feel extra ambitious and choose wines to accompany a motley crew of holiday dishes, I recommend keeping things simple and choosing one or two wines that go with all dishes. If this sounds like you, simply remember two words: Pinot Noir. Sure, you can pop some Lambrusco, Riesling or Zinfandel, but these can be tough for a large group; not only does Pinot Noir act as a chameleon when pairing with food, but it is also a crowd pleaser. Pinot Noir requires no proselytizing. Like a great hostess, Pinot Noir can be charismatic, diplomatic and, on occasion, profound!
Today I have chosen two unique Pinot Noir offerings from our cellar. Yes, we love Burgundy, but there are other regions that produce outstanding Pinot Noir; both Argentina and New Zealand are two that should receive more attention.
Brought to us by the same family who is responsible for Sassicaia in Tuscany, Bodega Chacra is a love of labor in the Rio Negro region of Argentina’s arid Patagonia. Here the vines are grown on their own rootstock and produce Pinot Noir with remarkable poise, elegance and perfume. Placed in a range between California and Burgundy, this Barda bottling would fall somewhere in the middle, celebrating the lively fruit known in New World wines, while possessing that earthy terroir and “soul” of the grape that we love in Burgundy.
For this selection I decided to hunt for something very unique and difficult to find. Mountford Estate, is located in the Waipara region of New Zealand’s South Island. This cult estate only make a tiny amount of wine for the world, say, 70 cases total of this bottling. One very interesting fact about this producer is that their winemaker is Taiwan-born C.P Lin, who is blind. At the age of three, Lin was blinded by retinoblastoma but he has a remarkable talent for identifying aromas, flavors, textures—and he has a strong passion for wine. At Mountford, he keeps yields to a minimum; they’re shockingly, low in fact. This Gradient bottling from 2009 offers loads of rich and decadent red fruits with traces of tea and underbrush. The wines sweep your palate velvety tannins and finish softly while leaving a trail of flavor for minutes on the palate.
We IWM writers spend a lot of time talking about Italy’s iconic grapes and winemaking regions such as Sangiovese in Toscana and Nebbiolo in Piemonte, but we also love the myriad grape varieties that are indigenous to other regions of Italy. In Puglia, the “heel” of the Italian “boot,” the dark, intense Primitivo is the most important red grape, and it’s capable of producing some truly stunning wines. A close relative of Zinfandel, Primitivo yields dense, inky wines with tremendous primary fruit and a spicy, brambly, jovial character. Primitivo can often be a simple wine for simple meals; however, in the right hands, this humble grape can produce wines of exceptional quality that have the power and stuffing to age for a very long time (see: Antonio Ferrari).
While most Primitivo falls into the everyday-drinking category, a handful of producers put outstanding wines on the market at very reasonable prices. In making its under $22 Majara Primitivo, Mille Una uses fruit from 40-year-old vines to craft a dense, rich and incredibly delicious Primitivo that spends three months in barrique (to enhance its spicy and chocolaty notes) and nine months in stainless steel (to preserve freshness, acidity and varietal character) before being bottled. Full-bodied and fruit-driven yet not overbearing or sweet, the 2013 Majara Primitivo coats the palate in velvety tannins and offers exceptional depth and complexity for its price point.
Not surprisingly, a wine like this is perfect foil for hearty fall and winter fare—soups, braises, stews, roasts and the like. On Sunday night, I served the Mille Una 2013 Majara Primitivo with a pot roast that I braised for four hours in red wine with potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips and onions from the farmer’s market, and the pairing was fantastic. There’s something about the marriage of velvety tannins with tender braised meat that always brings me to my knees. Of course, the wine was gone far too soon, but at $21.99 this wine lets you bring home more than one bottle without putting a strain on your budget. Open a bottle (or two!) the next time you cook up a steaming pot of warming wintry deliciousness!
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