In our family we have already started the pre-Thanksgiving parties and are busy planning the next couple of months of holiday get-togethers and dinners. It seems every year I get asked what wine should be brought to serve with turkey, prime rib or ham, etc. I have never put too much weight in the perfect pairing, they do exist but often it's best to focus on what you like. If you only like Chardonnay you are perfectly correct in pairing it with duck breast, or whatever may be on your holiday table. Who is to say you are wrong?
Photo by David Dines
Wine is subjective and that's a part of its beauty. Your wine experience should be fun and enjoyable. Drink what you like, not what you think you should be drinking.
However, generally speaking, most of the time it is safe to pair lighter dishes with lighter wines. In adition, richer foods hold up well to the bolder more tannic wines. It’s definitely fun to experiment with like flavors. One example is butter poached scallops with Gran Val Chardonnay. The flavors really complement each other. Adding a little lemon juice to the dish is the key, it adds the acid as well as a common flavor found in the wine.
Or more traditionally, Pinot Noir is a great pairing with turkey. May I suggest our Gran Val Pinot Noir from our Carneros vineyards. Light in body, high acid and bright red fruit with slight herbacious characteristcs make this the perfect pairing to all the Thanksgiving fixins. But again, if that's not your favorite varietal, drink what you want! Most importantly, have fun!
Exactly one year ago we were just finishing our harvest when the fires broke out in Napa and Sonoma counties. It was a crazy time to be in the valley but after a relatively short period of time we have all but completely bounced back and you have to look pretty hard to see evidence of that scary time. The most interesting thing about this anniversary is the difference between the vintage in 2017 and 2018. Instead of almost being finished with harvest at this time last year, for 2018 we are just getting started (with Cabernet anyway).
October 10th was the first pick on Cabernet Sauvignon compared to last year’s first Cabernet Sauvignon pick on September 9th. One full month behind!
What is behind this late harvest timing? Mild weather (the winemaker’s favorite kind of weather) takes credit. As I have noted before, most years in Napa have some periods of really hot temperatures which accelerate the ripening of the grapes. With a year like 2018 there were no significant heat events which means a more natural and slow accumulation of flavors in the grapes. Generally, the longer the growing season the better the grapes. In some mild years like 2011 we had a similar temperature pattern but we had a lot of late season rain.
This year’s forecast shows sun and no rain in sight through October which puts us in about the best winegrape growing position possible. I’m looking forward to these wines!
That time of year again. After a few weeks of denial, I realized that harvest is starting once again! It seems like a hardship because of the amount of time that it requires but it really is the most exciting few months of the year.
As a winemaker, we always seem to be telling people that the season is lining up to be the "vintage of the century". Most of the time we are exaggerating and doing our best to react to what mother nature is throwing at us (heat, cold, rain, hail, fires, flood etc.). This 2018 harvest is different, at least so far. The mild weather caused by a cold trough from Canada/Alaska has been remarkable. The usual August and September 95+ degree days have been replaced by 75-80 degree perfection. This is giving us a greatly expanded ripening window which is developing great flavors in the grapes and will let us slowly and carefully get those ripe characters without the drying out that excessive heat causes. This great weather along with all the amazing changes at Clos Du Val (Hirondelle House!) this time I "know" it’s going to be a great vintage!