Sunday, December 18, 2016

Blue Mountain wines for your turkey




Holiday meals centering on roast turkey (with mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and Brussels sprouts) often challenge wine pairing.

Will it be a white wine because there is a lot of white meat … or a red wine for the dark meat … or a rosé because one size fits all? Although the rosé selection is rather limited at this season.

The latest wines from Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars solve the problem. The winery has just released a sophisticated Pinot Gris and a juicy Gamay Noir, both from 2015. The wines are so affordably priced that you and your guests can have a glass (or two) of each.

In our house, we like to explore food and wine pairings. There are so many flavours to deal with in a Christmas or holiday turkey dinner, including the gravy and the stuffing. It calls for wines with bold flavours and good acidity.

For many years, the default varietal on our table at Christmas was Gewürztraminer, ideally from Alsace. These are aromatic dry wines whose spicy flavours stand up to the rich flavours of the holiday table.

When the great Alsace Gewürztraminers priced themselves itself out of this market, a search for a dry Okanagan Goo (as winemakers call the varietal) led us to Arrowleaf Cellars. This Lake Country winery’s very well made Goo sells for just $15.40.

Because a member of my family refused to drink Goo (can you imagine?), we have explored other white varietals, such as Riesling, Chardonnay, Viognier or blends of Rhone varieties. My vote goes to Viognier or Rhone blends because the wines usually are full-flavoured with a hair of tannin for a backbone that helps cut through the gravy.

I would recommend Moon Curser Afraid of the Dark ($21.90), a blend of Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne; or Lariana Cellars Viognier. Both of these wineries are in Osoyoos, a good terroir for Rhone varieties.

When it comes to reds for the turkey dinner, I don’t think you need the power of, say, Syrah or Meritage. A good Pinot Noir will stand up. Solid Pinots in the $25 range are made by Quails’ Gate Estate Winery and by Meyer Family Vineyards. If you are prepared to shell out the money, both of these producers (and others) have more complex Pinot Noirs in the $45 - $50 range.

I have been digressing. The point of this blog is to direct you to the new releases from Blue Mountain, which should be available in good private wine stores. For example, Everything Wine stocks the Pinot Gris and several other Blue Mountain wines.

The Pinot Gris’s crispness, acidity and flavours seem to me a perfect pairing with white meat of the turkey while the rich and generous flavours of the Gamay Noir can handle the dark meat, the stuffing and the gravy.

Here are notes on the wines.

Blue Mountain Pinot Gris 2015 ($20.90). The winery fermented 60% of this in stainless steel and 40% in barrels. The latter portion remained on the lees for seven months in three-year-old barrels. The two lots were then blended. The barrel portion adds a rich texture to the wine without suppressing the fruit. The wine is crisp with aromas and flavours of pear and citrus. There is a hint of spice and vanilla on the finish. 91.

Blue Mountain Gamay Noir 2015 ($22.90). This wine was fermented with native yeast and was aged 10 months in four-year-old barrels. It begins with aromas of plum and cherry which are echoed on the palate. There are spicy notes on the finish. The wine is remarkable for its seductively silky texture. 90.


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