Traditionally, no Thanksgiving table is complete without a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau, that misunderstood wine that comes out every year right around November and acts as a first taste of the harvest season. It’s a preview of the vintage to come, and while it often gets a bad rap, what you sample when you open a bottle isn’t really all that different from what you get when you try out a young wine that's still in barrel.
Aside from the requisite Beaujolais Nouveau, here are some wine suggestions for this year's feast that will ensure yours is the star bottle at the table.
2012 Piedrasassi Sauvignon Blanc, $34
Hold onto your hats with this one, because this sauvignon blanc is neither a red nor white wine — it's orange, made by giving a white wine contact with some grape skins, but only enough to impart a little color (not the flavor and texture of a red). Notes of grapefruit, green apple and underripe pear appear on the nose of this Lompoc-bottled wine, followed by a touch of greenness on the palate with spicy notes of candied ginger, white pepper and freshly tilled soil (seriously). This wine has enough backbone to stand up to all of the favorite Thanksgiving dishes, with acidity to match cranberries. Plus, it enhances turkey without pushing aside all of the juices (if you’re that lucky). Find it at Domaine L.A. in West Hollywood.
2012 Wei Chi Sémillon, $22
This wine is round and ripe, with notes of orchard fruit and dried leaves on the nose, followed by ripe apples and a touch of beeswax on the palate, and building with spices and a touch of acidity. Wei Chi is a newer brand from Lake County in Northern California, and its first-year sémillon will pair well with sweet potatoes and stuffing particularly. Find it at Domaine L.A. in West Hollywood.
2014 Carlson Trois Fleurs, $18
A blend of gewürztraminer, sauvignon blanc and chenin blanc from an experienced Santa Barbara County winemaker, Carlson's Trois Fleurs was crafted to capture the essence of spring and summer on the Central Coast. Bone dry, it beams with notes of roses, white flowers and honeysuckle on the nose but is stony and crisp on the palate, with flavors of mineral and rocky river bed, finishing with a zip of white pepper and a touch of honeydew melon. Find it at Wally's Wines.
2011 Holus Bolus Syrah, $27
Los Angeles locals Amy Christine and Peter Hunken own the winery Black Sheep Finds in Lompoc and crafted the 2011 Holus Bolus Syrah entirely from a five-acre syrah planting in the Santa Rita Hills. With rich notes of ripe, black raspberry and pen ink on the nose mingling with a bit of leather curled together with bacon fat, it will be a big player at your Thanksgiving table. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, racy, spicy and rich with a round boysenberry note held together with black pepper and a hint of red plum skin. Find it at Silverlake Wine.
2013 Balletto Pinot Noir, $23
A pop of ripe strawberry followed by thistle and underbrush sets this brambly and earthy pinot noir from the Russian River Valley above the pack for this Thanksgiving. It’s perfectly balanced with just enough fruit-to-earth; the savory flavors of turkey will enhance the forest and mushroom notes, and the sweeter dishes will meld well with the ripe berries that electrify your senses. Find it at Mission Liquor and Wine, which has multiple locations.
2012 Tyler Old Vine Pinot Noir, $65
It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between red Burgundy and a domestic pinot noir, but in the case of Santa Maria Valley's Tyler, the lines are a bit more blurred than the simple old-world, new-world distinction. From vines planted in Bien Nacido back in 1973, this pinot noir is unique for its upfront notes of dried red flowers followed by old wooden spice box notes. Light- to medium-bodied, the wine has a palate that's alive with mouthfuls of Choward’s violet candies, mint, wild cherries and raspberry granita over a layer of tree bark texture. Find it at Silverlake Wine.