A perfect wine for Thanksgiving

Readers have asked for some suggestions for the perfect wine to go with Thanksgiving dinner. While some red and white lovers may swear by their respective wines, I believe either can work well — as long as the red isn't too tannic or the white too sweet.

In the past, a fairly sweet riesling or gewürztraminer was the traditional wine to accompany a turkey dinner, but times have changed. We are now seeing drier white wines and rosé as well as soft, not-too-woody reds gracing our Thanksgiving tables.

In Oregon, the venerable pinot gris takes center stage for white wine lovers and the very spice-driven pinot noir for red wine drinkers. I think pinot noir may be the perfect Thanksgiving red wine, simply because of its nuance of spice, which goes well with many of the holiday's traditional dishes.

Here's a look at some of the wonderful Oregon choices for Thanksgiving dinner:

  • 2008 Boedecker Cellars Pinot Gris, Old Vine, Willamette Valley. This is a lovely white wine with a dry, elegant finish, up-front fruit and good weight on the palate. The nose on the wine is redolent of dry pear and very clean with pronounced pinot gris fruit. Very nice. About $23.
  • 2009 Spindrift Cellars Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley. The alcohol level on this wine is a near perfect 12.5 percent, which blends nicely with the fruit and weight of the wine. I really have enjoyed this wine over the years; in fact, I've liked all Spindrift's releases of late. This crisp and fresh release has many peripheral nuances that make it a real charmer and keeps it thirst-quenching throughout the taste sensations. Yummy. About $19.
  • 2008 RoxyAnn Pinot Gris, Rogue Valley. This ubiquitous white wine is perfect for those wishing for a Southern Oregon white with more cream, weight and alcohol level. It weighs in at a whopping 13.9 percent alcohol, which can be a bit daunting for a pinot gris, but the folks at RoxyAnn have pulled it off with a bigger wine all-around, including palate weight and big-fruit bouquet. This wine never gives up on the taste sensations and delivers solid fruit to the end. I tasted this wine last week with the venerable wine personality Ned Armstrong, and we agreed this style was just the thing for heavier holiday fare. $17.
  • 2009 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris. This wine always has been a very good value for the money. Solid, well-defined fruit with crispy tones and dry as fresh snow, this is a wonderful white for the holidays. I have never been disappointed in this winery's release of gris. In fact, I think it is one of the more consistent winners for the dollar spent. Another fine wine personality, Ryan Duer, is responsible for the promotion of this wine in the valley and its continued success for the holidays. About $20.
  • 2009 Ayers Vineyard Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley. Everyone is talking about the 2008 vintage, but the 2009 is also very strong in pinot noir. The Ayers folks have made pinot noir in an affordable price range with lovely pinot spice, length and elegance. Under $30.
  • 2008 Spindrift Cellars Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley. This wine is the perfect mid-weight pinot with gobs of spice, fruit and bouquet. The taste sensations in this wine are really quite charming and seemingly go on forever. Those wishing for a powerhouse red for the season should not look for pinot noir in general or Spindrift in particular, because these wines offer elegance over mass and power. I think the Spindrift pinot is really quite something. About $25.
  • 2008 Shea Wine Cellars Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley. This might be the nicest pinot noir I have tasted in quite a while. From the vaunted 2008 vintage, the Shea delivers gorgeous, complex fruit, silky weight and pinot elegance unmatched in many higher-end releases. I have tasted more than 50 very nice pinot noirs over the last few months and this is in the top three on my list. Very lovely. About $45.

Lorn Razzano is owner of the Wine Cellar in Ashland. Reach him at razz49@aol.com.

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