Thanksgiving is early this year, and as always, there’s a decision with regard to what to serve with the turkey, ham, or whatever you may be having for dinner.
In recent years, we have enjoyed cranberry wine as a perfect fit with roast turkey. There has been a traditional connection with cranberry sauce with “the bird”, and so a cranberry wine might be considered a natural and fitting extension. It is also very much a northern Ontario product, as the one available is produced at Bala near Gravenhurst.
Muskoka Lakes Winery has both a straight Cranberry wine and a Cranberry Blueberry blend. Both would serve well. They have some sweetness initially, more so with the blueberry, and then good tartness on the finish, courtesy of the cranberry. Both are lower in alcohol than most table wines at 10 and 10.5 % respectively.
Over the years, the prices have crept up, so that the straight Cranberry wine is now $14.95 and the Cranberry/Blueberry is $16.95 – a bit pricey, but affordable for the occasion.
I like fruity, flavourful wines with turkey, as the meat itself is quite neutral. It’s better, too, I think, if the wine isn’t overly acidic. Off-dry Rieslings or Gewurztraminers come to mind. Alternatively, a good balanced chardonnay would go very well.
The Inniskillin Late Autumn Riesling is currently $2 off at $10.95. The flavours are lifted because of the ripeness of the fruit before harvest. The Henry of Pelham off-dry Riesling is available at the Station Mall store for $15.95 – expect mellow peach-pear on the palate and a tinge of sweetness on the balanced finish. The Fetzer Gewurztraminer from California at $12.95 is quite forward with almost tropical flavours, and is slightly less acidic than Ontario and German products.
For a lighter Chardonnay, the 1812 Chardonnay from Palatine Hills is $12.20. It offers a lot of flavour for the price. I found the nose a bit off at first – perhaps some “bottle stink”- but it proved to have good length. It’s a good buy.
If you prefer reds, don’t get anything overwhelming. At $15.95, the Banfi Centine, a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese blend from Italy would be perfect. This wine, in Vintages on Great Northern Road, was best in show at one significant competition. It starts off rather lightly, but the flavours grow beautifully.
Pelee Island Pinot Noir VQA is just $11.95 currently. The area south of Windsor is the warmest in Ontario, and the fruit ripens very well. This, too, is a light red, but one with persistent flavour. Also from Pelee Island is the Alvar Pinot Noir for $14.95. It has some cherry and sage elements, and would go well with ham as well as turkey. Try a bottle of both these Pinots to see which appeals most.
For a special treat, the Cambria Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir, $29.95, also at Vintages, will provide excellent rich fruit flavours and would match well with ham. If you like big tasting wines, consider the Ravenswood Vintner’s Blend Zinfandel, $17.95. This has tons of fruit, but it isn’t tannic, and so would partner with ham, but serve just as well with roast beef.
Enjoy your Thanskgiving.
Friday at the Wine Rack – I will be pouring complimentary tastings of two of the Inniskillin “East West” wines at the Wine Rack in Rome’s Independent Grocers on Friday, October 5. The white contains 58% Riesling from Ontario and 42% Gewurztraminer from the Okanagan Valley. The red wine is 63% Merlot from Ontario and B.C., with the balance a blend of western Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. They are $16.95 and $17.95 respectively, and good. Come try them – you might decide that they are the wines you’re going to invite over for dinner.
Colio Estate Winery will be opening its own retail outlet at Pino’s on Trunk Road, hopefully this November 12. I spoke with Jim Clark, President of Colio on Friday at a tasting of Ontario wines. I was aware that Pino’s were actively pursuing a retail licence, and was told that Colio has about 14 in the province. They will be closing a store in Brampton, which will allow them to open their first store in Northern Ontario. They have a new winemaker, and are looking forward to a good relationship with Sault Ste. Marie.
I will be writing about my experience at the Wine Tasting in Toronto. I was able to sample many, many good wines. And that’s why this column is late!