A ‘Classic’ California Pinot Noir for Thanksgiving

A ‘Classic’ California Pinot Noir for Thanksgiving

This vintage 'conjures up exactly those qualities that will grace and complement your turkey/ham offering'

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I love Pinot Noir with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Not a French red burgundy, which are generally a bit too subtle and understated for this “free-for-all” meal. For it, I like the Pinots from California’s Santa Barbara region, made even more well-known by the movie “Sideways.” At their best, these are softer, richer and more sensual than many Pinots, and their particular flavor components laugh at the difficulty of matching cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and pumpkin spice!

Today’s wine is a standard bearer for this region and this grape. It is the Sanford Winery, Santa Rita Hills Appellation, Pinot Noir. Not only is the 2014 vintage superb, but it conjures up exactly those qualities that will grace and complement your turkey/ham offering.

2014 Pinot Noir, Sanford Winery and Vineyards, Sta. Rita Hills Appellation $35 srp

Ruby/garnet translucent color. A tangy, inviting nose of strawberry, raspberry and freshly cut roses, with complex overtones of cinnamon, smoke and leathery vanilla. The mouth feel is stout and plump, with savory notes of bing cherry, cola and a full-bodied creaminess that sings all by itself. Slightly earthy, with an energetic and “crunchy” finish providing great refreshment. I’d decant this for a couple of hours if consuming this year. Drink now-2021.

91/100 points

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Arturo Ciompi
Trained as a classical clarinetist and conductor, Arturo plied his trade for many years in New York, performing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York City Opera, the American Symphony and countless chamber music groups. While living in Durham, Arturo became the wine manager at two iconic gourmet stores: Fowler’s in Durham and Southern Season in Chapel Hill. He had a wine spot on NPR in the ’90s and has been a continuously published wine journalist since 1997. He has won national awards for his work and is currently writing for Durham Magazine and its weekly blog, “Wine Wednesdays”. In addition, he loves teaching the clarinet. Read more on his website.