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The Best of Both Worlds

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Hanukkah and Thanksgiving will collide this year. This convergence of culinary delights and beloved traditions will not occur again for another 77,000-some years, which is something to celebrate in itself.  The portmanteaus abound (Thanksgivukkah being the favorite), but I’m going with “Turkanukkah!” And in the spirit of two-is-better-than-one, I’ve consulted a fellow wine expert on this article. Aaron Epstein, curator of Le Metro – Wine. Underground, brings a fresh West Coast perspective to the mix.

When all good things come rushing together, it’s important to take a deep breath, realize how lucky you are and make the most of the moment!  As you’re on the lookout for that special someone to take home for the holidays, keep your mind open and remember that all good things sometimes do happen at once! Here are some indulgent and possibly too-good-to-be-true wines and food pairings to ring in the season.  Take them for a trial run on your next date – who you might just be introducing to Mamalah later this month!

1. Kaltern Caldaro Muller Thurgau 2011

One of the world’s most popular hybrids came about in a Switzerland laboratory, thanks to Hermann Müller back in the 1880s.  The idea was to create something with the aromatic pungency of Riesling and the harvesting potential of Madeleine Royale, a resilient and early-ripening grape. Caldaro’s vineyards are located in the Sud Tyrol area of northern Italy, where German is still widely spoken and Austria feels more like the fatherland. This Müller-Thurgau exemplifies the best of both worlds both culturally, contextually, and where it really counts… in the glass. The nose is packed with opulent apricot and creamy white petals. It glides over the palate like satin, but finishes dry with a crisp and mouthwatering finish.

2. Régis Bouvier Marsannay Les Longeroies 2011

This one requires no justification, but there were a million reasons to include a stellar Burgundy in this round-up. As Aaron Epstein puts it, “Winemakers the world over will claim it as one of their favorite regions, yet to casual consumers – and even many in the trade – a shroud of mystery surrounds it that makes it seem almost occult.

Pinot Noir has quite the following. For some it is the grape’s mystique and the incredible variance throughout Burgundy that really gets the wine nerd’s pulse racing. For others, it is simply a matter of taste. Complex, satisfying and undeniably autumnal, a bottle of Pinot Noir begs a place at the table this month.  This one, according to Epstein, is the best of both worlds itself:  “Straddling both tradition and modernity, this wine is shining yet focused, herbaceous yet clean, capable of aging but sublimely drinkable right out the bottle.” Make the right pairing (think poultry or tender lamb) and add flavors that are at once delicate but layered, like mushrooms, truffles and aromatic herbs.

3. Zepaltas 2011 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Epstein doesn’t neglect his home team either. For a domestic approach to Pinot Noir that is every bit as interesting, he recommends Zepaltas 2011 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Ryan Zepaltas produces seven different Pinots ranging from the fruit-driven versions we come to associate with California to more esoteric and subtle styles. His terroir, which is located 30 miles inland from the Pacific in Sonoma County, allows for both, and this wine exemplifies the best of both worlds right here at home. Zepaltas pairs this with pork chops, but it’s equally sumptuous with a juicy brisket or a savory stuffed turkey.

4. Mazzolino Rosé Cruasé DOCG

A joyful reminder that you can have your NOIR and pink bubbles too, Mazzolino Rosé Cruasé DOCG is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes left on the skins just long enough to extract rosy aromas and a spot of snappy tannin. It’s then bottled Champenoise-style and left on the lees for at least 18 months. The winery itself is an exercise in “best of both” ideals. It’s located in northern Italy, outside of Milan in the area surrounding the Po River. The winemaker, Jean-François Coquard, hails from Lyon, and brings a little bit of Burgundy with him in the cellar.  If you can imagine a dry and sparkling strawberry pie with pure finesse, this is it. Try it as an aperitif or better yet, with the first batch of potato latkes! Fried and fizzy work together as the bubbles and acidity skim the fat from your palate, preparing you for another perfect bite.

Annie Shapero is the Founder/CEO of DiVino wine events planning and wine consulting, currently operating in New York City.
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