Sure, the holidays are about family and friends and togetherness–something most of us have been lacking lo these many months. But, nearly as significant, the holidays are about food and wine–and about sharing that food and wine with the ones you love (and have missed). So as we come together (carefully still) this season, let’s make sure you fill your Thanksgiving table with wines that will surprise, satisfy, and delight. To that end, the staff at Paul Marcus Wines has offered a prime selection to help get you started.
I haven’t seen my family in a large or large-ish gathering since 2019. The pandemic has accelerated and changed so much, but when I think of all the things I miss, and want changed back (though nothing will go back to what it was, exactly), family gatherings are at the top of the list. For this year’s Thanksgiving, I’m going to pop some Champagne and open both red and white Burgundy with our Thanksgiving meal. I’m thinking: go BiG. I haven’t gone BiG during the pandemic, but I’m feeling like life ought to be celebrated in a BiG way.
So here are a few selections for this year’s festivities:
Try a bottle of the astonishing 2012 Francis Boulard ‘Petraea’ Brut Nature, made from 100 percent biodynamically farmed pinot noir. The fruit for ‘Petraea’ comes from 60-80-year-old vines planted on sandy limestone soils in a single estate parcel in the northeast corner of the Montagne de Reims. The combination of ripe fruit and a long aging process, with no dosage, yields a dynamic, captivating result.
Or perhaps try a Burgundy or two from the masterful Dominique Lafon. His red wines are deep and complex–I have loved them for 30 years, and his new releases might be his best yet. For instance, the 2017 Dominique Lafon Beaune Epenottes, from a plot farmed by Dominique just outside of Pommard.
His whites are gloriously bright and exuberant as well. Grab the 2019 Dominique Lafon Meursault if you want a total stunner of a rich wine with ripping acidity. Sensuous. For more ideas, come on in and ask us for recommendations. We’re always happy to help.
— Chad Arnold
Have You Heard About Poulsard?
Poulsard (also known as ploussard) is the second-most-planted grape (after chardonnay) in the Jura. Thin skins and a pale red color are the signatures of this variety, and long ferments draw out maximum flavor and texture. The 2018 Domaine Ligier Arbois Poulsard spends 10-12 months in vats before bottling, increasing its generous flavors, textures, and scents of sour cherry, pomegranate, cranberry, and earthy spices. Bright and complex with good acidity and a lovely finish, it’s a perfect choice for your holiday gatherings.
— Rene Duer
It Ain’t Easy Being Easy
On T Day, we celebrate being as stuffed as a turkey. Therefore, the wines should be easygoing–easy on the brain, easy on the stomach. The 2018 Unturned Stone Stowaway Red fits the bill. Zinfandel and carignan are richly flavored grapes that tend towards weight and alcohol, but this winemaking couple handles them beautifully. The blend is only 12.5 percent alcohol, has no silly additives, and comes from the historic, organically farmed Talmage Ranch vineyard. It drinks soft and fresh with berrylike fruit, without being at all “sweet.” It’s just easy to like.
The versatile, nimble wines of Beaujolais, made from the gamay grape, are ideal accompaniments to the wide-ranging Thanksgiving feast, and we have a number available at PMW.
The 2019 Jean-Claude Lapalu Eau Forte comes from one of the most revered growers and winemakers in the region, a leader in the natural wine movement. While not bottled as a single cru, the grapes for this wine are sourced from Brouilly. Lapalu does not make Eau Forte in warmer, riper vintages, as he intends it to be lighter on its feet with less tannic structure. It is aged in amphora, which adds to its silky texture, and it has the flavor complexity of a cru wine without the extraction and tannin. A great start to the heavy meal, it will complement the pre-meal cheese spread and cranberry preserves.
The Moulin-à-vent cru takes its name from the iconic windmill (moulin) that proudly stands above the vineyards. Nicknamed the “Lord of Beaujolais” because of its wines’ “noble” fragrance, this appellation tends to offer wines with a bit more body and intensity. The 2017 Merlin Moulin-à-vent is just starting to show its tertiary notes from the bottle age–dried cranberry, dried rose petal, and forest floor. Aged in new French oak, with notes of licorice and spice as well as a solid tannic structure, it’s a wine to last the meal from start to finish.
Julienas may not be as notable as, say, Morgon, but that is not because it is lacking in potential. The region experiences more sunlight exposure than the other Beaujolais crus, and when combined with its varied, decomposing blue stone and schist soils, Julienas can pump out wines of real power. Expect a weightier mouthfeel with darker fruits. The lively 2019 Laurent Perrachon Julienas is a classic example at a pretty unbeatable price. It boasts dark, peppery fruits with some tannin, though not quite as dry as the Merlin. It will be great with the all-in-one forkful of dark turkey leg meat + stuffing + cranberry sauce.
Win the “most far-flung and obscure island wine” sweepstakes this Thanksgiving with the 2020 Tsiakkas Mouklos Mavro, a light, shockingly fresh red from the nation-island of Cyprus. The Tsiakkas family farms 80-year-old, ungrafted, bush-trained vines in sandy, volcanic soil at over 3,000 feet of altitude. Mavro Ambelissimo is the variety, and Mouklos is the name of the vineyard. It’s super-light in color, and the profile is light red fruits, with delicate floral and herbal notes. As with gamay, poulsard, schiava, pelaverga, and similar wines, the great acidity and liveliness help this wine play well with everything on the Thanksgiving table. Definitely chill it a bit. Fun fact: The Republic of Cyprus issued a stamp featuring the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) in 2009; someone there must be doing the Thanksgiving thing!
Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, famously banned gamay from Burgundy in 1395. The 2017 Marchand-Tawse Coteaux Bourguignons Gamay proves him wrong. Here is gamay from 45- and 75-year-old vines in Vosne-Romanée–aromatically Beaujolais, but structurally Burgundy. Dark-fruited, stony, and earthy, with a hint of spice, it’s a stylish yet relaxed guest on the Thanksgiving table. It’s the absolute antithesis of Beaujolais Nouveau and the perfect Venn diagram for lovers of real Beaujolais and/or Burgundy; a gamay of breed and class, yet not without that good gamay slash of hedonism.
Oscar, Oscar, Oscar
Every family has that one cousin who’s just so affable, charismatic, and laid-back–the one who gets along with everybody and yet doesn’t talk too much. That, my friends, is Cousin Oscar. Made from a single parcel of old-vine cinsault in France’s Languedoc, the 2020 Domaine Rimbert VdF ‘Cousin Oscar’ is a luscious and bright bowl of red berries with just a whiff of peppery spice. Bursting with acidity and charm, this unassuming bottle will complement just about anything you throw at it–and at less than 20 bucks a pop, it’s perfect for those guests who might overstay their welcome. To quote Col. Sherman T. Potter of M*A*S*H fame, “Not enough o’s in smooth to describe this.”
For more Thanksgiving suggestions, from the classic to the unconventional, please stop by or give us a call at the shop. Happy holidays!