Wines of the Week - These Are the Wines You Should Serve with Turkey
Last week, I visited all the wineries in the West Coast that we are proudly representing throughout the country and abroad. I started first with Pacifica. Now that is a winery that is underrated and underappreciated. We recently released the 2016 Pinot Noir which is showing good promise yet can use a few more months in the bottle to come into its own. Let me tell you about my visit to the winery. It was a beautiful day with perfect temperature in the mid 60s. I was driving from Portland, Oregon alongside the beautiful Columbia River Gorge, enjoying the views of the fall foliage and the surrounding forests. As I approached my destination, the view became more and more magnificent. As I left the highway and drove up the hill, I could not believe how stunning the region was. I thought to myself, perhaps I should pull over and take some pictures, it really does not get any better than that! But I did not want to be late for my meeting with Phil, Sheryl and Spencer Jones so I decided to hold off and take pictures on the way back. Remember, the Joneses are the same people who own and run Goose Bay in New Zealand, Goose Bay being the kosher label of their non-kosher, award-winning Spencer's Hill winery there.
Once I arrived at the winery, I realized I made the right choice. The winery is perched atop the hill, overlooking the Columbia Gorge and facing the impressive 11,250-foot Mt. Hood, which is covered with snow 365 days a year. Then I realized something I had completely ignored until then: Pacifica is an estate winery nestled literally at the heart of its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards, with other planted varietals that bode well for exciting new releases over the coming years.
Phil and Spencer promptly boarded their heavy-duty pickup truck and invited me to join them for a tour of the vineyards. Their passion transpires through their every word and wine. After we had taken some pictures and videos which some of you may have come across on our social media channels, we headed to the tank room to taste through the wines, including some of their New Zealand Goose Bay wines. A few months ago, they released a wine called Goose Bay Two Hemispheres Heritage Blend. I have written here and elsewhere about this wine, which is the result of Phil's and his head winemaker Matthew Rutherford's cooperation. While it carries the Goose Bay label, it was actually made at Pacifica from grapes grown in vineyards that are situated a few minutes away from the winery, past the bridge separating Oregon and Washington. It is a delightful, medium-bodied Bordeaux-blend that is enjoyable both on its own or with food.
Anyway, I could go on and on about Pacifica but today I'd also like to highlight some other wines that I've been impressed with.
Psagot, Viognier, 2016
With Thanksgiving around the corner, it is also time to start figuring out the holiday's menu, and obviously that includes the wine, as well.
White wines are on the rise. Finally! I have been advocating for them for quite some time, I am certainly not the only one, and here it is, people are starting to understand the beauty of white wine. White wines are not meant exclusively for the warm weather, far from it. There are many different types, featuring an abundance of different textures, aromas and flavors. Besides the classic Chardonnay such as the Herzog Russian River, Castel C or Covenant Lavan to name a few, let's not forget for example the great Rieslings, Gewürztraminers, Sauvignon Blancs and, of course, Viogniers.
I wrote a few months ago in this column about the Yatir Viognier, which features a heavier style with oak influence from the barrel aging. The Psagot Viognier is a different animal altogether, leaner, more mineral focused and lighter in body. The bright aromas of stone fruits, pears, as well as earthy minerals, the balance of flavors here combined with mouthwatering acidity make this wine a perfect choice with deep-fried turkey accompanied by grilled oyster mushrooms and roasted pearl onions. I'm drooling just thinking about it!
Winemaker Ya'acov Oryah's expertise in white wines is shining through here and I highly recommend you try this wine.
Vitkin, Pinot Noir, 2016
This amazing boutique Israeli winery came to the kosher market in general and the US market very recently. I have discussed the history of Vitkin winery here not too long ago. The first wines we got were the delicious Rosé (Pink Israeli Journey) as well as the White blend (White Israeli Journey). While truly excellent wines, launching a new brand on the kosher market without any red wine made things a bit more challenging than usual. We just got the first two red wines from Vitkin: the Red Israeli Journey, a fascinating "Mediterranean" blend that we will discuss at length a different time, and a Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir is one of my favorite varietals. The better versions arguably come from Burgundy, in France, however some producers in other regions do a great job with this grape, as well. I have mentionned the Pacifica which is made from Oregon-grown grapes, perhaps the best region in the New World for Pinot Noir as it benefits from rather similar topography, soil and climate as Burgundy. Israel however is a completely different story. It is dryer, much warmer climate, more akin to parts of the Rhône Valley, Spain and California. Pinot Noir being a very sensitive varietal, requiring not only appropriate climatic, soil and elevation but also much more care in the vineyards than most varietals. It is therefore no surprise that very few wineries in Israel make a Pinot Noir. With all of that being said, a few vineyards located in the Ella Valley, the Shomron and the Golan Heights have yielded several noteworthy wines over the past decade or so and the Vitkin is one of them. This is a refined, bright ruby-purple wine with a silky texture as well as notes of red cheries, cranberries and red currants with a light to medium body showing hints of freshly turned dirt, cedar wood as well as hints of roasted herbs. The soft tannins and medium acidity make it a great companion to turkey but also veal, chicken, or salmon. Or even with vegetarian fare such as a potato latkes (Chanukah is coming soon too), mushroom gratin or a quinoa salad.
Vitkin strikes again with yet another delicious, interesting and well-priced wine from Israel. If you aren't yet, it will make you fall in love with Pinot Noir!
Photography by Tzvi Cohen.