These are friends that can’t arrive too early or stay too late for your holiday
Italy leads the way in this roundup of reds for Thanksgiving, but we made room for some other standouts—after all, it’s the season of sharing and, we admit, Italy has taken its share of the limelight lately (justly so!). So much of what we liked fell into the “chill” category—light, easy reds that snap out of the glass with a bit of a chill on them, but plenty of other styles grabbed our attention. Organized here by gradations in style, there’s a wine for every socially distanced place at the table.
LIGHTER REDS FOR CHILLING OUT
Serve these with a slight chill and the fruit will jump out of the glass.
Bending Branch frizzante rosé 2019, Texas Hill Country. A darker style of rosé that wants to be a Lambrusco. Very direct cherry and earthy aromas, fun fizz, cherry and wild raspberry fruits, medium body and dry. Made from Tannat, drink like a red. *taster’s choice. $22 (order online outside of Texas)
Cavalchina Bardolino 2018. New York importer Harmon Skurnik calls this a “beautiful, light-bodied and aromatic red.” And, I did not argue! Its cherry freshness comes from the cooling influence of Lake Garda and aging exclusively in stainless steel for 6 months before release. $17
Cembra 2018 Trento DOC Schiava. From Italy’s northeast comes this tart cherry, raspberry and plum-flavored pleaser. This is a Dolomite mountain wine elevated by Alpine fruit and flowers and expressing a seductive a flint/smoke. $15+/-
Copain “P2,” 2019, Anderson Valley. 50-50 blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, lots of energy and snap, broad and crunchy, young berries screaming out of the glass. Serve with a chill. $35
Lo Triolet Gamay 2018 Valle d’ Aoste DOC. This starts off with a bit of earthy aroma that blows off in the glass, then is followed on the palate with tart cherry, fresh raspberry, great lively acid and smooth firm tannins. Juicy and tasty, I say; Skurnik says “lip-smacking”: We’re both right! *taster’s choice. $23
Mandrarossa Frappato Costadune 2017, Terre Siciliane IGT. A baking-spicy nose (cinnamon, nutmeg) gives over to a black and red berry bowl in this bright, easy-going wine. Dry, soft tannins, a modern style, a great partner to all dishes. $18
MEDIUM REDS WITH RANGE + DEPTH
We know Pinot and Gamay lovers need their fix—here are some and a few more.
Abbazia di Novacella Pinot Nero 2018. Made by the stellar monastery in Alto Adige dating to 1142, this “nero”—Italy’s version of Pinot Noir—is fermented in stainless steel and aged in oak barrel for six months before release. Bright orchard fruits such as plum and damson pear are elevated by bright red currants. Snappy! $25
Duca di Salaparuta “Lavico” 2017 Terre Sicilia IGT. Made from Sicilian star Nerello Mascalese. Smooth, juicy, modern style, easy to drink (and hard to resist drinking the whole bottle). Judicious use of oak some pleasant baking spice notes. Smooth tannins, black cherry, stewed strawberry, velvety and modern. $20
Early Mountain Vineyards “Soif” Red Blend 2019, Virginia. A fresh and tart Cab-driven Bordeaux blend that’s balanced and easy-going—sort of a “Bordeaux light” for those who don’t want the earthy heaviness of the French style. Tart red fruits, cranberry and pomegranate over the traditional red fruit flavors. Dry, sweet tannins. $26 (check with winery for availability)
Mille1 Garda Rosso DOC, L2017 Lombardy. A blend of Rebo (a crossing between Teroldego and Merlot developed in Trentino), 40% Corvina and 20% Merlot, this is a tasty, modern wine that still has a strong Italian personality thanks to some of the grapes (atypically, the Merlot), undergoing the appassimento drying method. The result is a medium- to full-bodied plum- and blackberry-driven wine. $20
Pierre-Marie Chermette Moulin a Vent “Les Trois Roches” 2016. A lightly deeper style of Beaujolais that will go well with dark turkey meats, but also with cranberry sauce. Juicy fresh strawberry and tart cranberry, good acid and mineral streak, balanced, a little earthy, smooth tannins. $28+/-
Travaglini Gattinara 2016, Piedmont. Made of 100% Nebbiolo, smooth and pleasant with darker black and red fruits; full bodied but not so deep (or tannic) that it doesn’t work with turkey, especially the drumstick and richer dark meats. Nice licorice notes and a long finish. Unusual bottle makes a nice presentation. *taster’s choice. $34
Shaw + Smith 2017 Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills (Australia). Made from older vines, this has a seductive smoky-bacon nose with spicy wood oak notes. Tart dark cherry, round and with tannins but with enough structure to stand up to the roastiest (yes, that’s a word I just made up for this wine) parts of the turkey. Nice new world crowd pleaser. $38
Zenato Alanera Rosso Veronese 2016 IGT. International style but with character. Chocolatey smoothness, a little green herbaciousness and ripe plum flavors. Medium bodied with smooth, barely there tannins. Made mostly made of Corvina (55%) with the other grapes known in Valpolicella plus 5% Merlot (there’s that plum and chocolate!) $17
TAKING A DEEPER DIVE
Great wines for the drumstick lovers or for after dinner with hard cheese. That’s after the pumpkin pie, of course.
Cosmo Taurino Riserva Rosso 2011 Salentino DOP (Puglia). Slightly earthy nose followed by flavors of plum and dark cherry elevated by good acid streaks. Ripe, smooth tannins, structured (not muscular), but still easy going. One of Puglia’s star grapes, Negromaro, comprises 90%; the other 10% is Malvasia $15+/-
Early Mountain Vineyards “Rise” 2015, Virginia. Super dark and inky Bordeaux style driven by Merlot. Sweet, ripe black fruit, lush and smooth, opulent with flavors of coffee bean, leather, forest floor, bitter chocolate. Concentrated and powerful. *taster’s choice. $95
Fattoria “Le Terrazze” 2015 Rosso Conero DOC. Made from Montepulciano grapes overlooking the Adriatic sea on Italy’s Marche region, Skurnik calls this “robust wine a great match for the strong flavors on the Thanksgiving table.” Tart dark fruits, rich and raisin-y, but not as deep as a ripasso, this shows rich chocolate, fig and coffee on the nose followed by a dried fruit aspect, like dried sour cherries or cranraisins. Very dry, terrific acid; fine, dry tannins and a smooth delivery. *taster’s choice $23
Robert Perroud “L’Enfer des Balloquets” 2017 Brouilly. Made of Gamay Noir grapes, this is a darker-than-usual hued Beaujolais with the style of a cru—classy, layered, and more complex. Shows ripe black raspberry and strawberry; spicy and dusky with a bit of menthol and iodine. *taster’s choice $20
Tenuta Santa Maria 2017 Classico Superiore Valpolicella. Black pepper nose followed by black fruits and stewed strawberries and a little bit of tomato leaf on the palate. Classically slightly raisin-y, full bodied, this is Italy in a glass. $35