Even though they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, etc. as we do, Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and Uruguay are all countries were wine is first thought of as an adjunct to a meal, meant to help create a heightened overall dining experience - where a specific wine is meant to compliment or contrast with a particular food being eaten, bringing out the best in either or, hopefully, both.
So, if, like me, you enjoy pairing food with wine to achieve “more than the sum of the parts”, there are white and red wines produced in these south-of-the-equator countries that I feel deserve a spot on your Thanksgiving table.
(And if you enjoy drinking your favorite wine regardless of what you’re eating, good for you – drink what you like!)
2014 Zuccardi Concreto Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina
This very special medium bodied, un-oaked Malbec is for you hard core wine geeks out there – it’s not like any other Malbec I’ve ever tasted and it has the medium weight and acidity to make for a compelling Thanksgiving pairing. This is a very special and rare wine, with less than sixty six-packs in the western US. The pet project of third generation winemaker Sebastian Zuccardi, the grapes for this amazing wine come from his favorite Piedra Infinita, or infinite rocks, vineyard at 3,600 foot altitude. This perfectly pure Malbec is grown and made in the most meticulous manner possible, with aggressive vineyard management techniques to ensure low yields, hand picking and hand sorting before a wild yeast ferment in state-of-the-art, epoxy free concrete "egg" fermenters. Half the wine is fermented whole cluster and half is de-stemmed. All stages of the fermentation and maturation, including a natural malolactic secondary fermentation, occur in the concrete eggs. This wine sees no wood or stainless steel, ever. The wine is perfectly clean, elegant and pure, with a depth of flavor and sensuous litheness I have rarely encountered in any wine and never in a Malbec. Powerful yet delicate and feminine, with silky minerality and bright red fruits, it has excellent structure, with proper acidity and smooth tannins. The finish is long, deep and complex. A wine to be lingered over and contemplated, unless, of course, the delicious bright fruit flavors entice you to gulp it down. A stunner.
$36.99 per bottle
2010 Cirillo 1850 Grenache, Barossa Valley, South Australia
If you are looking for the Thanksgiving wine experience of a lifetime, this is your wine. The rarity of this wine is off the charts! Made with grapes from the oldest Grenache vines in the world, with the vines planted in 1848, it is haunting and magical in a way that cannot be replicated in younger vine wine - which in this case means virtually every other wine made. Lithe, pure, intense, subtle, flavorful and complex, this wine is also bright, juicy and fresh, which means it will pair beautifully with roast turkey, particularly dark meat. This incredibly limited wine is made by Marco Cirillo in a non-intervention, old school method, with 24 months of aging in big, used French oak. There is enough natural acidity and tannic structure for 10 years or so of aging, at which time the wine should be even more magical. We poured this at a recent tasting (you need to check out Andy's Southern Hemisphere wine tastings) and people were flat out blown away - we almost sold out. There are only two bottles of this on the shelf as I write this, so do not delay.
$79.99 per bottle
2013 Handpicked Collection Pinot Noir, Tasmania, Australia
A beautifully balanced, medium to light bodied Pinot Noir with intense fruit and bright acidity always hits my sweet spot when it comes to pairing savory foods like Thanksgiving fare. One of our great new discoveries, the small production Handpicked wines from Australia, all demonstrate the best of the region selected, in this case the cool climate island of Tasmania. This one of those achingly pure and pretty wines with unusual depth and balance that displays a true sense of place or terrior. Ethereal and complex aromas of pretty red fruit, smoke and baking spices leads to intense yet light bodied spicy red cherry fruit, leaning toward the old world in style, with a wonderful depth and penetrating purity. The finish is long and elegant. If you like the lighter bodied Pinot Noirs of Burgundy, you owe it to yourself to try this wine. Worth every penny and more.
$45.99 per bottle
2014 Yalumba Old Bush Vine Grenache, Barossa, South Australia
Do you ever find yourself just wanting a bottle for your Thanksgiving table of bright and juicy red wine that's not too heavy but delicious and flavorful nonetheless? This Grenache from the famous Barossa region of Australia is just that, with big, bright spicy berry and cherry flavors. It has that elusive combination of a strong, bright fruit flavor without the clumsiness of heavier extracted wines, yet it still has plenty of complexity and depth. This vintage is a bit more lithe and bright than the 2013, with only 13% alcohol. Exquisitely balanced, this wine is very, very easy to drink. Always a big seller, it always delivers delicious fruit for the money. With the nice amount of acid, this wine is also food friendly and would go well with just about everything not sweet on your Thanksgiving table.
$17.99 per bottle
2014 Yangarra Old Vine Grenache, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Grenache is one of those varietals that tends to pair well with food if it isn’t over extracted or over oaked. This meticulously hand-made wine shows everything you want in a Thanksgiving table wine, particularly if you like bolder flavors and textures. Coming from biodynamically dry-farmed, un-trellised bush vines planted in 1946, this wine has a delightful spicy fruitiness typical of Aussie Grenache, but with an attractive brightness and wonderful savory complexity. The fruit is hand-selected, undergoes open-top, wild yeast fermentation and is gently basket pressed. There is a compelling underlying complexity to the cherry and plum flavored fruit. Silky smooth tannins lead to a really satisfying mineral driven finish. It sees 9 months of used French oak and is left on the lees for 12 months. This has more refinement and subtle complexities than most at this price. A real find and age-able for 5-10 years.
$27.99 per bottle
2014 Underraga Sibaris Gran Reserva Pinot Noir, Leyda Valley, Chile
A bright, fruity and extremely well-balanced Pinot Noir, this is a fine example of quality wine at an amazing price – and it was a huge hit at a recent tasting. There is abundant cherry and strawberry on the nose and in the mouth, with beautifully extracted fruit that shows strong flavors without heaviness. There is very nice natural acidity and an almost-not-there oak influence from all-used French oak. The finish is delicate, bright and pure. It drinks like a delicate old-world Pinot Noir but with exuberant new world fruit. This is the type of Pinot Noir that pairs well with almost everything on the Thanksgiving table (except the sweet stuff) by providing a nice does of bright but not overpowering fruit and pleasant natural acidity to keep things fresh.
$16.99 per bottle
2013 Lime Rock Pinot Noir, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
Bright, minerally and intense Pinot Noir with proper natural acidity, as you find in the wines of the Burgundy region in France, are a natural for the rich savory flavors of the Thanksgiving table and a favorite of many of the staff here at The Wine Country. Less than 1% of the vineyards in New Zealand are limestone based as these are - which explains the strong streak of minerality that runs throughout this wine. This is a finely structured and purely fruited Pinot Noir, showing smooth spicy red cherry on the nose and in the mouth, with a lightly herbal overlay. To go with the nicely weighted, well-extracted fruit, there are firm but fine tannins and very good acidity - good structure - this wine could age easily for 10 years. There is good complexity and a very nice fruity, clean finish. Much more old world than new, this is quite a find and shows how soil type can influence a wine.
$28.99 per bottle
2014 Mt Beautiful Pinot Noir, North Canterbury, New Zealand
Personally, I love a medium to light bodied Pinot Noir with my Thanksgiving food – the bright berry fruit and crisp acidity just hit the spot, and this is one of my absolute favorites. While the full-bodied Pinot Noirs from New Zealand's warm Central Otago get much of the acclaim, excellent Pinot Noir is grown throughout the beautiful, environmentally unspoiled South Pacific two island chain. From the cool climate Canterbury region on the South Island, this is an intense yet achingly pretty and refined "feminine" style Pinot Noir. It has a penetrating and pretty candied cherry nose with overtones of minerals and violets. The fruit has that ethereal combination of extraction without weight, with pure minerally dark cherry flavors and a fascinating savory edge. It has very good acidity, supple, soft tannins and a clean, complex, interesting finish.
$23.99 per bottle
2015 Man Bosstok Pinotage, Coastal Region, South Africa
Have an adventurous side and want to have fun at Thanksgiving without breaking the bank? Pinotage, a cross between Cinsault and Pinot Noir, is the South African red. Totally unique, this fresh and clean easy drinker has bright aromas of red fruit, with a hint of smoke and a slightly savory edge. Medium bodied, the juicy and bright fruit flavors follow through in the mouth along with nice acidity to keep things fresh and a pleasant clean finish. Famous for pairing with most savory foods, this would be a tasty, fun and out-of-the-ordinary addition to your Thanksgiving table.
$9.99 per 750ml bottle
2013 Alma Negra V Blend, Mendoza Argentina
This may be one of the best wines in the store for the entire Thanksgiving table, with its texture, weight and intensity combined with the slightest, and I mean slightest, hint of sweetness making it incredibly food friendly. A sensuous blend of Viognier, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer, the aromas and texture of this intense and supple fruity blend are off the charts. It spends 6 months in 80% new, 80% French and 20% American oak. The floral aromatics are sexy and strong and the bold tropical and stonefruit flavors are perfectly accentuated by the slightest hint of sweetness and perfect balancing acidity. One of the most popular wines at our Thanksgiving food tasting, this wine is delightfully different and flat-out delicious.
$18.99 per bottle
2016 Colomé Torrontés, Salta, Argentina
Looking for something new and slightly exotic for your Thanksgiving? While the Argentines don’t eat much Turkey, they do eat lots of savory foods similar to what you’d find on our Thanksgiving table, so it’s no surprise that this unique Argentine varietal, which is famous for having the texture and guts to pair with almost anything - including savory and even slightly sweet (not dessert) - is on this list. Unique, intense and floral, Torrontés is the national white grape of Argentina and found almost nowhere else. The best Torrontés is grown in the high altitude region of Salta. The grapes for this hauntingly beautiful and complex version are grown at 5'500'. A powerful floral bouquet - white flowers, roses & violets - is followed with mouth-coating, minerally, honeyed tropical fruit and citrus. It has perfectly balancing natural acidity and finishes dry and clean. The intensity, weight and texture of the wine is very sensual. A sumptuous, gorgeous hand-made wine, it sees no oak and is famously food-friendly.
$13.99 per bottle
2016 Howard Park Miamup Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, Margaret River, Western Australia
If you like your Thanksgiving white wines on the more textured side to “stand up” to savory Thanksgiving foods but don’t want to spend $40-70 on one of those beautifully rich and oaky California Chardonnays, this might be the wine for you, as it gets you most of the way there without breaking the bank. This Bordeaux-style white blend from the pristine Margaret River in Western Australia is so big, bright, crisp and fruity it just disappears from the glass. It has really pretty, fresh aromas of stonefruit, passion fruit and lemon. The wine is pure and crisp in the mouth, with nicer body and weight than you'd expect, with green apple and citrusy fruit coming through strong, along with a nice streak of minerality. The finish is crisp and fruity with a more depth than you might imagine. A really impressive effort.
$21.99 per bottle
2014 Thistledown Great Escape Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
For the Thanksgiving table, there are two schools of thought on pairing white wines and Chardonnay in particular; go for light to medium bodied, crisp, clean and un-oaked to cleanse the palate for the next bite; or rich, oaky, full-bodied and powerful to match the big flavors on the table. This lip-smackingly delicious, impeccably balanced and laser focused cool climate un-oaked Chardonnay is a perfect example of the new style of varietal and terrior driven winemaking that is taking over Australia. The cool climate allows for the grapes to stay on the vines longer and get fully ripe, but while maintaining full natural acidity. Crisp and clean, but with nicely extracted and pure white stonefruit and citrus fruit, this is a juicy and appealing Chardonnay that is very refreshing due to the abundant natural acidity. That acidity and pure fruit also means this is a great food wine as well – it will absolutely rock with that nice rich gravy we like to pour on everything on our Thanksgiving plate. It sees little or no secondary malolactic fermentation and no new oak is used - no new world butter or cream here - but, since there is significant lees contact and a very natural, free-run juice with lots of solids remaining during fermentation and aging, there is plenty of texture and complexity. A remarkable modern-style Chardonnay at a great price. This was an end of vintage buy, so get it while you can.
$16.99 per bottle
2015 Arboleda Chardonnay, Aconcagua Costa, Chile
Another Chardonnay for the Thanksgiving crowd that likes the lighter, less oaky side of things but needs a wine with enough depth and texture to hold its own. A relatively new project from the folks at Errazuriz, the oldest and consistently highest rated winery in Chile, this is cool climate Chardonnay at its best – it blew people away at a recent tasting. They pioneered the newly certified Aconcagua Costa region in the 1990s, and the wines coming out of this region are a revelation. This hand-made Chardonnay has a wonderful combination of a slight richness and heft along with pure fruit, good acidity and a smooth finish. The clean, powerful flavors and aromas feature bright citrus. The finish is smooth and slightly rich. Overall, this wine has near perfect balance and intensity. Very impressive and the critics agree - it's scoring off the charts for a wine at this price point.
$21.99 per bottle
2016 Jules Taylor Gruner Veltliner, Marlborough, New Zealand
Looking for a bright, fruity, easy drinking white wine that will pair with almost everything on the table without taking over the meal? Another Jules Taylor hit, bright, crisp, clean and minerally, this un-oaked Gruner Veltliner is an easy drinking delight. It features citrus and white peach aromas and flavors and has a lot more depth and complexity than one would expect for $15. It has a very nice weight in the mouth and is ultra-refreshing, with strong minerality, great purity, a perfect amount of acidity and a clean, but wonderfully interesting finish.
$14.99 per bottle
2016 Jules Taylor OTQ Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
This is New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc unlike any you’ve had before – barrel fermented, it drinks more like a Chenin Blanc, with a texture that is perfect for Thanksgiving. Another perfectly focused wine from one of the best winemakers in New Zealand. This is sourced from the Plunkett vineyard - very best fruit available in Marlborough - and is 100% barrel fermented in used barrels, because she wants the weight and texture the barrel ferment provides but not the noticeable wood flavors new barrels would impart. Not your typical grassy grapefruit flavored Marlborough Sauv Blanc here - a mind-blowing combination of fruit aromas and flavors - citrus, creamy peach, with hints of coconut and even pineapple. The fruit has what I call a rainwater purity that is hard to explain. And what a beautifully weighty, mouth-filling texture and mouth feel. It has great natural acidity and a long, clean and complex finish. Totally unique and delicious. WOW!
$20.99 per bottle
2014 Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay, Kumeu, New Zealand
If you like full-bodied, oaky but balanced Chardonnays on your Thanksgiving table, this wine will blow your mind. The Croatian Brajkovich family are pioneers in the New Zealand wine industry, starting back in the 1940s, and have earned a top-notch international reputation and following, always selling out and getting rave reviews. This is a powerful and sensuous wine, with big aromas and flavors, but it remains poised and balanced due to bright natural acidity and a streak of rocky minerality. Intoxicating aromas - stonefruit, pear, white flowers and wet stones - and strong, pretty, slightly creamy fruit - pear, quince, lemons and tropical fruit - meld seamlessly with a supple and smooth texture. The finish is long, crisp and complex. Hand-produced, it features whole bunch pressing, wild yeast ferments in French oak, 100% malolactic secondary fermentation, 11 months in 20% new French oak and an additional 5 months in stainless steel before bottling.
$32.99 per bottle
2014 Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay, Kumeu, New Zealand
If you want to blow away any rich and oaky California Chardonnay lovers at Thanksgiving, this critically acclaimed, incredibly rare and intense barrel fermented Chardonnay will absolutely do the trick – and save you some money. The Croatian Brajkovich family are pioneers and stars in the New Zealand wine industry, starting back in the 1940s, having earned perhaps the best international reputation in all of New Zealand wine, and this incredibly rare, intense, structured and stylish Chardonnay (less than 25 cases in California) - perennially on critics best lists all over the world - is one of the reasons why. Powerful, rich and oaky but still extremely well balanced and taut with a sharp core of energetic fruit, this stunning Chardonnay starts off with ethereal aromas of minerally citrus, ginger and stone fruit. The palate has a rich and sensuous texture, with more citrus and stonefruit and a nice streak of minerality. There is perfect balancing natural acidity, too. The finish is long and smooth, with rich buttery oak coming on smoothly but not overpowering. While it is delicious now with a vigorous decant, this wine is young and will develop into something amazing with five-to-ten years of proper cellaring. If you like a rich, oaky, buttery high-end California Chardonnay, you owe it to yourself to try this wine - it has what you want, but with a special twist that will blow you away.
$49.99 per bottle
2017 De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay, Robertson, South Africa
For the Thanksgiving table, there are two schools of thought on pairing white wines and Chardonnay in particular; go for light to medium bodied, crisp, clean and un-oaked to cleanse the palate for the next bite; or rich, oaky, full-bodied and powerful to match the big flavors on the table. One of those amazing combinations of quality and price, this un-oaked Chardonnay spends 5-6 months on its lees. It is bright, clean and minerally while being surprisingly weighty, complex and bordering on full-bodied. There are loads of bright citrus, clean pure flavors, crisp balancing acidity and a surprisingly round finish. Lip-smackingly delicious and another one of those how-do-they-do-it-at-this-price South African wonders.
$14.99 per bottle
2016 A. A. Badenhorst The Curator White, Swartland, South Africa
If you’re looking for a bargain wine that will absolutely foot the bill and pair with your savory Thanksgiving foods, look no further. One of those remarkably priced, incredibly well-made, amazingly delicious and satisfying wines typical of South Africa, this 60% Chenin Blanc, 20% Chardonnay and 20% Viognier blend from Adi Badenhorst, one of the very best winemakers in South Africa, is bursting with flavorful crisp citrus and stonefruit, bright acidity, minerality, sensuous texture and a clean, satisfying finish. The Viognier adds a beguiling light floral overlay and added texture that makes this incredible bargain even more remarkable. The best $9 white wine in the store and perfect for Thanksgiving!
$8.99 per bottle
2016 A. A. Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc, Swartland, South Africa
Chenin Blanc is hand down one of the best food pairing wines on the planet and this beauty from South Africa is a perfect example – just a knockout with roast turkey, gravy and stuffing. Adi Badenhorst is obsessive about quality, using organic and biodynamic techniques to tend to his 40-60 year-old vines and uses minimal intervention winemaking to let them express their terrior. This beautifully balanced wine spends 7 months on the lees for depth and texture. Lusciously textured, it has the nose of stonefruit and spice you expect from a ripe South African Chenin Blanc and an explosion of rich, round stonefruit in the mouth. It also has perfect balancing acidity, keeping everything clean and pure leading to a crisp, satisfying finish. A beautifully wine at an astonishing price, it always blows people away at tastings.
$13.99 per bottle
2016 Garzón Reserve Albariño, Garzón, Uruguay
Have a wine geek who loves California white wines coming to Thanksgiving that you want to engage and surprise? Looking for something totally unique but that has the weight and texture to match the intensity of strong Thanksgiving table flavors? How about a big, round, delicious Albariño from Uruguay! There is good wine coming out of Uruguay, and this full bodied Albariño is a great example. Big, round and rich at 14.5% alcohol, but with proper acidity to keep things fresh and clean, this is a wine that California wine aficionados will like. It has big mouth-filling texture and citrusy aromas with a light floral quality and bold bright flavors, with a hit of tangerine coming through nicely. The clean finish is big, fruity and smooth. Very good wine at a great price, give this a try to break up your routine.
$15.99 per bottle