Eugene Weekly : Wine : 11.18.10


Sharing Love & Wine
Our ancient harvest celebration
By Lance Sparks

Something is so old and deep about Thanksgiving that even the most hardened realists among us often succumb to nostalgia, and even the greediest Tea Bagger can be moved to sympathy for the poor and helpless. (Note: We happily admit that not all the wealthy are miserly; some, clearly, still feel the old value of noblesse oblige and are among the most generous givers to charities and the arts, and we gratefully thank them.) The harvest feast tradition reaches far back into history to times when people huddled up to eat the last of their food before hunkering down for the long hunger of winter. Refrigeration and the world market, of course, have relieved many of us (not nearly all) from those bitter necessities, but we can give thanks that the impulse to gather and share our bounty remains, proof that nostalgia can have very real value.

Every year for the past 10-plus, Mole and I and the crew here at Wine Investigations have devoted November’s column to selecting wines that complement the traditional Thanksgiving menu — roast bird particularly, but not exclusively as more folks have committed themselves to vegetarian dining and others have chosen alter-menus for their feasts. As a result of those changes, we now simply look for yummy, well-made wines at fair prices that’ll match with a wide range of flavors.

We’re also unapologetically local-firsters, preferring to buy and drink wines from grapes grown close to home or produced by friends and neighbors, partly because moneys spent here tend to eddy back around, partly out of mere love and loyalty for the folks we know, lastly — and most fundamentally — because local foods and local wines just make each other taste better, and that seems true the world over.

On that note, last month, we ran out of space before we could mention some lovely local vinos discovered at the Pours for Paws benefit for Greenhill Humane Society, particularly:

Kandarian 2009 Blue Eye Sauvignon Blanc ($20), with its lovely floral nose and crisp, clean citrus flavors, would make a fine match with roasted turkey and many vegetarian dishes. Might be a bit tricky to find, but Briggs Hill 2008 White Wine ($11) is a pretty blend of floral viognier and minerally Riesling flavors, terrif with an Asian menu (any wine retailer will happily order the wine for you).

I always feel a little weird about recommending Capitello wines only because (disclosure) winemaker Ray Walsh is father to my beloved grandson, Apprentice Winemaker Desmond Walsh, 12, but Ray is ranked among the Northwest’s most talented vintners. I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t simply true: ALL the Capitello wines are superb — sparkling, pinot gris, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir. Pick according to preference.

Patchwork Cellars 2007 Pinot Noir is distinctly Oregonian, firm but finely textured with pretty flavors of cherries and raspberries, at a good price for pinot noir ($19). Also fine is Verve 2007 Pinot Noir Stoller Vineyard, a little more spendy ($30) but structured for food, especially baked or grilled salmon.

Quicky: Found at Friday Osso Bucco Night at Mario Tucci’s Friendly Street Market, Elio Perrone Barbera d’Asti 2009 Tasmorcan ($13) might be the best barbera we’ve tasted in years, deep and rich, perfect for meats like lamb, beef, and, sure, osso bucco.

Thanks, neighbors, for all the love, all the sharing.