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Now is the time to buy a case for holiday entertaining

Wayne on Wine
By Wayne Crawford
wayne crawford
Wayne Crawford
The winter holidays—from Thanksgiving through the New Year . . . and beyond—are a seasonal hallmark for enjoying food and wine. And, right now is the time to include case wine sales to your shopping list for your best discounts. 

Pairing wine to turkey, game birds, duck, goose, or ham has one common denominator for red wine—Pinot Noir. Yes! 

Merlot is a grand medium-bodied wine for duck, lamb or pork and Cabernet Sauvignon pairs nicely with game birds. But, this writer recommends Pinot Noir, the grape in Burgundy, as the best all-purpose red wine for these special occasions.
Add Chardonnay and sparkling wine to your wine shopping list and you cover all your holiday meals: three sparklers, three white wines and a half-case of Pinot Noir and you are on point to entertain your friends and family. 

Burgundy, the traditional home for Pinot Noir, continues to produce great wines to include White Burgundy and Chardonnay.

Pinot Noir grows world wide
witness tree vineyard
Pinot Noir grapes at Witness Tree Vineyard. (Photos courtesy of Witness Tree Vineyard, Salem, Oregon)
Pinot Noir is a challenging grape to grow and needs special attention in the vineyard and cool weather and the right terroir (climate, soil) and viticultural skills to succeed and please. Only one winery in Georgia grows Pinot Noir and it is thin in structure and taste and is not typical for the grape—perhaps our less than cool climate is a key factor. The better news is Pinot Noir grows worldwide and Oregon, California, Chile, New Zealand along with Burgundy provide exceptional choices. 

The taste is mouthwatering with wild cherry, black cherry, herb and barnyard flavors in the more complex and structured wines. In the young wines strawberry flavors dominate, with low acidity and low tannins. Most of the new Pinot wines benefit from decanting perhaps an hour before drinking. I suggest you experiment with what works for your taste.

A mature Burgundy will cellar for years and delivers remarkable flavors that cannot be described in a collection of adjectives. The challenge to the reader is to find those Pinot Noirs you like and want to share with others. 

In general most Pinot Noirs below $20 are not typical representatives for the grape and while fruit forward lack balance and structure to stimulate food pairing. There are however many pleasing Pinot Noir wines near the $20 price point, particularly 2008 Oregon Pinot Noir that just experienced what many wine writers would consider Oregon’s best rated vintage in 40 years. Look for these wines; several are suggested in wines drinking well now. Consider selecting wines in the $40 or below range for special feasts as you gain enhanced options and quality in your wine selection at this price point.  

Wines drinking well now
Domaine Bachelet-Monnot, 2008 Maranges 1 Cru, La Fussiere Grands Vins de Bourgogne, France, priced at $33.99: Red burgundy color with wild cherry aromas, herb and cherry flavors on the palate and a silky mouth feel. This is a balanced wine with a lingering fruit and mineral finish. Marc and Alexandre Bachelet work 25 acres of vines in Puligny Montrachet premier crus in Bourgogne. The wine was first produced by the winemakers in 2005. I like this wine and at this price point is an excellent burgundy.  

witness tree vineyard
Witness Tree 2008 ChainSaw Pinot Noir
, Willamette Valley, Salem, Oregon priced at $19.99: Alcohol is 13.6% “Produced from entirely estate grown fruit, it is made from lots in the cellar that are selected for early “drinkability." This medium bodied wine has deep red colors with red fruit on the nose. A fruit forward wine that is remarkably balanced for a Pinot Noir at this price. Best Buy

Torii Mor winery 2008 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Dundee Oregon priced at $20: A brilliant red color with cherry aromas a light body Pinot Noir. Alcohol by volume at 13.5%. Nice balance and smooth on the palate with red fruit flavors with a cherry finish. Donald Olson and his wife Margie have owned the winery since 1993; the wine maker is Jacques Tardy from the Burgundy region in France. This winery focuses on handcrafted wines. Best Buy

Domaine Faiveley 2007 Mercurey, Nuits-Saint-Georges, France priced at $23: Alcohol is 13% by volume. Erwan Faiveley is the seventh generation owner of this venerable winery established in 1825, which produces in excess of 50 different wines each year. This is my go-to Burgundy winemaker for price and quality. This wine has dark red color. The aromas are fruit and spice; on the palate this well balanced wine is smooth with a pleasant finesse on the finish. Best Buy

Domaine Chanson 2005 Beaune Greves Premier Cru Beaune, Cote D’OR, France priced at $40 to $60 bid on line: A rich red with fresh fruit aromas on the nose and with raspberry and cherry flavors on the palate. This is a nicely balanced wine; decant and allow the tannins to further soften for a very nice lingering finish;13.5% alcohol by volume. Beaune’s Chanson Père et Fils has been crafting fine wines since 1750. This is an ideal Thanksgiving wine and represents a typical Burgundy Pinot Noir.  

In the next article sparkling wines for the New Year will take center stage.

Drink what you like!

Although he calls Big Canoe home, Wayne Crawford, is frequently on the road with his consulting practice. Wayne is a member of the Society of Wine Educators.

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