On Thanksgiving Wines, 2013

San Francisco, November 16, 2013. Two weeks ago, I pointed out that Thanksgiving was creeping up on us, and guess what? It is! Since this will be my last Sunday email before the big day, I’m going to continue with the T-Day spirit. You see, when it comes to Thanksgiving, I feel like I’ve been born again. Seriously, it has only been a fairly recent development that I get excited about Thanksgiving. Why get excited? Because I get to drink Sauternes, that’s why.

It is important to be grateful and give thanks, and I’ve never had a problem with that. It has been the traditional Thanksgiving meal that I’ve had issues with, and this goes way back to early childhood. Being the only native American in a family of immigrants came with a rather unique perspective. Goings on at the homes of childhood friends, though all different from each other, still had a familiar cultural connection. I would return home and it was like crossing a border or something. Giving thanks was something done daily at the dinner table … after one was finished. Though they had a few years of practice before I came into being, my family’s Thanksgiving meals were bland and banal. They ceased being banal once I started providing the wine, but the family feast still left a lot to be desired. In those days, excessive money was spent on extravagant bottles that drank very well; they just didn’t pair well with anything on the table. I enjoyed sharing fancy wines with my loved ones, and I still do, don’t get me wrong.

Being in this line of work has me a little more focused on pairings nowadays, and I’ve been loving my journey of discovering savory food pairings for the Gold wines of Sauternes and Barsac. I’ve always loved the wines, but I was under-utilizing them. It’s interesting how things come about, and my Sauternes story is certainly a long one; I’ll do my best to spare you the ” … and then the 38 Geary went by” details I’ve been known for while telling a story. It was May, 2008. It was just another day here at TWH, a customer was walking through the Bordeaux section, and then stopped in the Sauternes section. We do have an amazingly large selection of Gold wines, one of the largest in the country. I’m always curious to see customers there, so I went out to investigate. Turns out the customer was Didier Frechinet from Château La Tour Blanche. He was in town for a big Sauternes tasting. David asked me to go to the tasting.  A lot changed that day. I am very grateful that Didier visited us that day, and I am also very grateful for all of the good Sauternes has done for me. Very grateful. Giving Thanks.

After that tasting, I was off in search of unusual savory pairings for the Gold wines of Bordeaux, chiming in here on occasion.Turns out people actually read these things, because not too long thereafter, we teamed up with Aline Baly of Château Coutet for an all-Sauternes dinner for customers at Restaurant Picco in Larkspur. It was a smashing success, as we now have 3 Coutet dinners under our belts! Though born in France, Aline grew up here in the states and always celebrated Thanksgiving with the Gold Wines from her family’s property. Now there’s an idea! It might have taken me a while, as once you get in the habit of dismissing Thanksgiving, it can be difficult to embrace it. But I’m embracing it now; the golden elixir to the rescue!

What I’m trying to say here, as I said last time, there’s no right or wrong way to pair wine with Thanksgiving. Go with what works for you. You want a light-body red? Magnums of 2011 Fleurie would be great. A nice, fairly inexpensive White Burgundy? Try the 2011 Bourgogne Blanc from Michel Bouzereau.In the mood for a full-bodied red? The 2009 Château Larrivaux is calling your name. I could go on and on.  Just remember: This is Thanksgiving. These are your friends and family. Do what you want; or as Ms. Baly likes to say, “There are only traditions, no rules.”

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving, however you celebrate. Over the years, I have received compliments from several customers about these write-ups, and I am very grateful for them. I am also very grateful for those of you that I don’t hear from; thank you for reading! Giving Thanks.  

So yes, I am very excited about celebrating this born-again (for me) holiday. You can absolutely count on the fact that I will have, at the very least, a glass of Sauternes or Barsac come November 28.

In case you all want to join me in a toast, check this: We’re having a special sale on the 2005 Château La Tour Blanche in half-bottle! Regularly priced at $29.98, it is now on sale for $19.95!!! When I tasted it with Didier Frechinet in the room, I found the botrytis profound and the structure suggesting the wine will last a long, long time. After tasting it recently, I still find the botrytis ever-present, but it exhibits a melange of complexity that will keep you deep in thought … this baby’s open for business! True story, a customer once asked for a recommendation for a magnum of Sauternes for his daughter born in 2005. He bought the 2005 Château La Tour Blanche, he also asked me to enclose an autographed copy of my tasting notes. That was a first. Very Grateful. Giving Thanks. – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about Thanksgiving, Gold Wines, Bordeaux, or why I don’t like international breaks during footy season: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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