Tag Archives: Thanksgiving wine

Hooked on Historic Chardonnay

Napa Valley’s most famous winery we all know as Chateau Montelena was a chateau founded by Alfred Tubbs, who made his fortune selling rope during the Gold Rush. Today it’s a winery best known for its silver-screen moment in the film, “Bottleshock” — which tells the story (loosely adapted) of the “Judgment of Paris” in 1976. The story was based on an international wine competition that included Montelena’s chardonnay, which surprisingly bested its French counterpart in a blind tasting. At that time, the winery was owned by Jim Barrett, who opened the winery in 1972. Today, following Jim’s death in 2013, Chateau Montelena is run by his son, Bo, and it’s world-famous chardonnay is crafted by winemaker on-site, Matthew Crafton.

The quality of this chardonnay hasn’t skipped a beat when it comes to its elegance, not even since that tasting of ’76. Open a bottle of 2016 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and you’ll be able to relate. This is a bottle that presents notes of fresh florals and a palate of crisp acidity that adds to the wine’s freshness. It’s a perfect wine to open at the onset of Thanksgiving dinner. While some chardonnays are “oaked out” and compete with the buttery mashed potatoes on the table, this chardonnay will complement with its ideal oak and fruit balance. You might not want to switch to reds during dinner.

In fact, once you’ve tasted this 2016 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, you may be tempted to order more. And why not? The exclusive privileges of wine club membership include access to enjoy picnics in the private Chinese pagodas on the elegant grounds surrounded by resident swans, fish, vineyards and some of the best wines in California.

Charlene Peters, a.k.a. SipTripper, is a WSET Level 2 Certified wine writer with extensive experience traveling the world to explore New and Old World wines and indigenous culinary creations to share with readers. She can be reached at siptripper@gmail.com

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Hard pressed to resist Beaujolais Nouveau

As if it were Halloween, I spent last night “trick or treating” in a sense. Instead of candy, however, I received sips of newly-released Beaujolais wines. My trail began on rue Cler, and from there I took the Metro into the 3rd arrondisement of La Marais, and back again to rue Cler in the 7th, where wine shops welcomed passersby to come in and taste the 2014 grapes harvested in France. Fortunately, 2014 has proved to be a great vintage, especially when you factor in the warm September in the vineyards.

In the most southern wine growing region in Burgundy, France, there’s an outlier region called Beaujolais, where the wine is quite different in regard to production and climate. In fact, Beaujolais is referred to as its own appellation that produces light, dry gamay grapes, which are a cross between a pinot noir and the ancient white gouais grape.

What most people know Beaujolais for is its one-third production of Beaujolais Nouveau, revealed recently in Paris, France, and in the U.S. by next week. About 35 million bottles of this Beaujolais Nouveau are shipped worldwide and within two months of harvest, thanks to carbonic maceration – the Nouveau style of production. The catch to buying a bottle is:

1) It should be consumed immediately — within a month, preferably

2) It will not have a high tannin structure or acidity, but will be fruity in both aroma and taste – tart cranberry overtones makes it a perfect pairing for Thanksgiving coffee-table talk.

Also, you should know that Beaujolais-Villages is not the same thing as Nouveau, but it is made from the remaining production to produce a darker, richer and more full-bodied wine – and can be stored longer than Nouveau.

Beaujolais Nouveau pairs well with Thanksgiving dinner – turkey and cranberry sauce, or even salmon, trout, pork chops or charcuterie. Just remember, it’s a new wine, so it’s pretty fruity and straightforward grape.

Get a few bottles while you can, and enjoy! Click here for an interesting take on Japan’s welcoming of the new harvest, and here to get a bit of Beaujolais Nouveau’s history in marketing and the person most responsible for putting Beajolais Nouveau Day on the calendar.