Wine Pairings to Be Thankful For

Whatever your Thanksgiving feat style (or budget!), add the perfect finishing touch with just the right wine.

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Made by long-time Pinot Noir specialist Greg La Follette (and former head winemaker at Flowers), La Follette 2011 Pinot Noir, Sangiacomo Vineyard, Sonoma Coast ($40), has aromas of thyme, sage, red cherry and currant. Pinot Noir is the most versatile of varieties and matches well with turkey, stuffing with mushrooms and gourmet trimmings.

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Paul Hobbs is a noted winemaker with widespread international influence—making wines from Argentina to Armenia—giving him the nickname “The Steve Jobs of Wine.” The 2011 Paul Hobbs Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($45) from Sonoma has expressive wild berries, rose petals and clove notes. Its ripe red currant and blackberry flavors finish in long, round tannins.

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With its grapes sourced in Napa’s Knights Valley and Carneros, Newton Vineyard 2010 Unfiltered Chardonnay, Napa ($58), is made with indigenous yeasts and aged sur lie for 16 months in French oak barrels, giving it a creamy texture. Being unfiltered, its tropical flavors and hints of citrus, flint and minerality are especially vivid and complement a chef’s feast.

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In an up-and-coming region in the eastern foothills of Napa Valley, Priest Ranch is off the beaten track. And Grenache Blanc is an unusual variety for California. With its grapes grown in a mountain single vineyard at 1,200 feet, Priest Ranch 2012 Grenache Blanc, Napa Valley ($20), is fermented with wild yeasts in stainless steel and has aromas of melon and honeysuckle with great citrus balance.

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NV9 Cain Cuvée ($34) is a multi-vintage and multi-varietal wine that tastes more like a Burgundy or Barbaresco than a Napa Cabernet/Merlot blend. It’s vibrant with aromas of black and red cherries and a touch of smoke. Winemaker Christopher Howell has enchanted wine geeks by combining several vintage years resulting in a complex yet medium-bodied red, that can even pair with turkey.

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Benziger Family Winery in Sonoma was the first to become Demeter-certified biodynamic in Napa and Sonoma counties. Benziger 2011 de Coelo, Quintus ($75)—an elegant Old World-style Pinot Noir from a single vineyard perched on a hilltop near the Pacific Ocean—has strawberry, cherry, mineral and black tea notes, bright acidity and a long finish.

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From a winery dating back to 1880, Geyser Peak uses fruit from Alexander Valley in creating Geyser Peak 2011 Chardonnay, Sonoma County ($14), with bright pear and pineapple flavors. LangeTwins is a fifth-generation farming
family growing sustainably in Lodi. From its vineyards in Clarksburg on the Sacramento Delta, LangeTwins 2011 Viognier ($16) has beautiful aromas of stone fruit and a balancing acidity.

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Treana White ($23) is a Rhône blend of Viognier and Marsanne from Hope Family Wines. It has intense floral and tropical aromas—jasmine, stone fruit, pineapple—and a lively acidity to stand up to a variety of holiday dishes. The Hope family has been farming for more than 30 years in Paso Robles in California’s Central Coast.

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Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, Cakebread Cellars—with 982 acres under vine in Carneros, Howell Mountain and Anderson Valley—is one of Napa’s family-owned winery success stories. Its classic and beloved Cakebread 2012 Chardonnay, Napa Valley ($36), is aged in French oak and has ripe pear, apple, melon and vanilla flavors.

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The Fritz Underground Winery is built into a hill in the Dry Creek Valley. Aged 10 months in French oak, Fritz 2011 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($25) has notes of pear, apricot and cinnamon. From grapes grown in Napa Valley’s Carneros District, 2011 Sequoia Grove Chardonnay ($28) has flavors of lemongrass, apple, almond and nutmeg. Both match well with cream-based vegetable preparations.

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Robert Mondavi 2011 Fumé Blanc, Oakville ($32), is a new release with grapes sourced mostly from Mondavi’s legendary To Kalon vineyard with the oldest Sauvignon Blanc vines. This Fumé Blanc gets a bit more complexity with light oak treatment and works perfectly with a vegetarian menu, holding up to a wide variety of sauced preparations.

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Located in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley, Chalk Hill Estate is one of California’s top wine properties with 300 acres of grapes grown sustainably. Chalk Hill 2011 Sauvignon Blanc ($33) has concentrated gorgeous flavors of lemon, grapefruit, blood orange and mango, plus a long finish. This wine matches extremely well with vegetables and white cheeses, especially goat.

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With 80-percent Pinot Noir and 20-percent Chardonnay in its blend, Mumm Napa Brut Rosé, Napa Valley ($22), has hints of wild strawberry, cherry and plum, a delicate mousse and lots of finesse. Winemaker Ludovic Dervine grew up in Champagne and uses méthode champenoise aging this wine 18 months. It’s an ideal partner for Asian cuisine’s spices and oils.

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The North Carolina méthode champenoise bubbly Biltmore Estate Blanc de Blancs Brut ($25) has lively acidity and delicious hints of apples and pears. It goes well with spicy dishes and shellfish. George Vanderbilt’s grandson founded the winery—now part of the 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate in the mountains of Asheville—and planted more than 100 acres of grapes.

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Schramsberg Vineyards is a sparkling-wine house with 43 acres of Napa vineyards. It was first in the U.S. to produce a Blanc de Noirs style, made mostly from Pinot Noir. Schramsberg 2009 Blanc de Noirs ($40) displays flavors of apricot, guava, cherry, raspberry and candied ginger. Its fuller body and vibrant acidity makes it a great pair with Asian cuisine, especially Peking duck.