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Tag Archives: Spy Valley

Thanksgiving wine 2014

winereview

Thanksgiving wine 2014The Wine Curmudgeon got a press release last week touting a big-time California producer’s five pinot noirs for Thanksgiving. Because, I suppose, we’re supposed to drink pinot noir for Thanksgiving.

Excuse me while I throw a fit. Is this 1985, when we could only drink certain wines with certain foods at certain times? Of course not. This is the 21st century, when we can drink what we want when we want with whatever food we want. Which makes Thanksgiving the greatest wine holiday in the world, since it is about and variety and being thankful for all those choices.

Guidelines for holiday wine buying are here; this year’s suggestions are after the jump:

Wine review: Spy Valley Riesling 2011

One of the themes on the blog for the past couple of weeks has been value — does a wine offer more to the consumer than it costs? In this, value is not about price, because not all cheap wine delivers value. Sometimes, it’s just cheap.

It’s also worth noting that a wine doesn’t have to be cheap to offer value. Yes, it’s more difficult for an expensive wine to do this, given that too many expensive wines are expensive because their reason for being is to be expensive. But it is certainly possible, and it happens more often than I acknowledge here.

One producer who consistently does this is New Zealand’s Spy Valley, which as been making $15 and $20 wines that taste like they cost much more for as long as I have been writing about wine. I had one of those sublime, geeky wine experiences with the sauvignon blanc last year, and it’s not even my favorite Spy Valley wine.

That would be the riesling ($18, purchased, 12.5%), which is as enjoyable as it is difficult to find. I only see it in Dallas every couple of years, given the vagaries of the three-tier system, so when I do see it, I buy it, even if it’s a previous vintage. The producer is good enough so that doesn’t matter.

The 2011 didn’t let me down. It’s not riesling like most consumers know it — no sweet tea-like sugar or fruit flavors that taste like they came out of a can. Instead, it’s a dry riesling, complex with layers of flavor that range from petrol on the nose (a classic riesling characteristic) to citrus and tropical in the front and middle. It’s still fresh and almost aggressive after almost two years in bottle, which is a sign that it’s only going to get better with age.

Serve this to someone who doesn’t think they like riesling, and see if they change their mind. Highly recommended, and well worth the money.

Catfish meuniere, Randall Grahm, and Spy Valley

Honest wine

Honest wine is the best pairing for honest food.

The most important lesson I ever learned about seafood came from the late, much loved and much missed Merlin Kleinpeter: If you can’t buy it from Robert at Bayou Seafood, she used to say, then don’t buy it.

Which was Merlin’s way of telling me that fresh is what matters, and that any supplier who wasn’t honest about things like freshness wasn’t worth my time and money. If the crabs weren’t good that day, then Robert told her so, and Merlin didn’t buy them.

I mention this because food and wine are inextricably linked, and not just about which wine goes with which food. Pairing wine with most takeout pizza, which never tastes as good as you think it should, is one thing. That’s what $10 grocery store merlot was invented for.

But pairing wine with honest food – food that someone cared about and that required them to make an effort when they prepared it — is another matter entirely. More, after the jump:

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