Anthony Gismondi: Give thanks this year with local red and white wines

Anthony Gismondi offers up his favourite B.C. red and white wines to pair with Thanksgiving dinner

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Regular readers will know that turkey wines are not really about the turkey at Thanksgiving but more about all the other flavours and the noise surrounding the holiday on which we give thanks for the abundance in our lives.


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Unfortunately, the pandemic has wreaked havoc with our ability to get together for dinner over the last 18 months. Still, we hope more families will find a way to be together next weekend to give thanks, perhaps for simply being able to do just that.

When it comes to turkey and Thanksgiving, our experience is that fruit is your friend and high alcohol is your enemy. So anything you can do to simplify the wine process — but not the wine — is probably best. Also, be sure to plan your exit if you are driving to dinner and appoint a designated driver.

You can’t go wrong with serving red or white wine with turkey. Especially if you keep the tannin and oak levels down in the reds and make sure the whites have enough fruit to carry the plethora of flavours likely to show up on your dinner plate. You may even want to consider serving just a couple of wines (red and white) throughout the entire meal. It reduces confusion for casual drinkers and keeps the wine geeks in check throughout dinner. Who knows, it could possibly promote a much more interesting, non-wine conversation.


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The versatile Viognier kicks off our selections with its kaleidoscope of flavours makes it a terrific white wine to accompany a bird with all the trimmings. Local choices abound in 2021. The wines we like include:

• Hester Creek Viognier Stone’s Throw Vineyard 2020 ($19.99) and its bright, sweet, unoaked orange notes. It’s a standout aperitif but would be fine at the dinner table.

• Road 13 Honest John’s Viognier 2020 ($17.99) offers terrific value along with a fresh, citrus, guava, nectarine palate.

• Finally, from Australia, Yalumba has a long history with Viognier, and it shows in the value-packed Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2019, Australia ($16.99).

Riesling is another variety that can slice through turkey and cleanse the palate. The wines we like for the Thanksgiving table include:


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• Peak Cellars Block 11 Riesling 2020 ($30). It is off-dry, and the sugar is front and centre but is easily subdued by the freshly squeezed lime acidity in the finish.

• Therapy Riesling 2020 ($24.99) offers lime and orange blossoms with a fresh palate of mineral-based citrus flavours.

• Finally, the RockBare The Clare Valley Riesling 2019 ($26.99) is ready to take down your turkey from Australia, as is the outstanding Orofino Home Vineyard Hendsbee Vineyard Riesling 2019 ($29.04) with its pear, lime, green apple, and mineral, wet stone finish.

Red wine fans have a couple of ways to go with turkey, local Pinot Noir can be a good match, but we are also fans of Syrah/Grenache blends from France and B.C.

Pinot Noirs to look for include:


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• Spearhead Pinot Noir Cuvée 2019 ($42). Plums and blueberries rule the palate of this silky red sure to please the crowds.

• Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Noir 2019 ($37.99) provides a rare glimpse into Vancouver Island Pinot that establishes itself as a serious contender to the rest of B.C.

• For stability, it is easy to recommend Quails’ Gate Pinot Noir 2019 ($29.99). The Pinot program is hitting its stride at Quails’ Gate, led by the ever reliable Estate Series. Always stylish and elegant, its strawberry, herby, underbrush notes meld with the oak and savoury notes to be a tireless turkey red.

• Finally, if you are looking for a light, simple but flavourful match, look for the Haywire Pinot Noir Secrest Mountain Vineyard 2019 ($25) to satisfy.


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The blends present a slightly richer style that can be useful given all the side dishes and flavours of Thanksgiving. We are big fans of:

• M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône Rouge ($18.99) and its red and black fruits, fresh pepper and savoury silky texture.

• A local standout of a similar ilk with sun-baked strawberry warmth is the Bartier Bros. Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre ($41.99).

Now it’s time for family and friends, and you still have a week or so to get organized.

Weekend wine picks

Tormaresca Trentangeli Castel del Monte 2017, Puglia, Italy 

$23.99 I 90/100

UPC: 8026530000862

Trentangeli is a 70/20/10 mix of Aglianico/Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah. The nose is an enticing warm, fragrant mix of violets and rich dark fruit. The attack is full-bodied and fresh, featuring black raspberry, licorice streaked with brown spices and dried herbs that finishes with persistence and suppleness. Think lamb osso buco, turkey and meaty/mushrooms pasta dishes.


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Marcel Cabelier Côtes du Jura Chardonnay Vieilles Vignes 2015, Côtes du Jura, Jura, France 

$26.99 I 89/100

UPC: 03570590109324

This old vine Chardonnay (25 years) is made in the famed region of Côtes du Jura, and it opens with a touch of oxidation given its six years in the bottle. After that, its saline hazelnut aromas and flavours draw you toward the glass and bring on thoughts of grilled fish and mushroom risottos and this week’s Thanksgiving turkey. It is a Chardonnay for the enthusiast and the dinner table. So it is nice to see it in just under 30 BCLS stores at a very competitive price.

Clos de los Siete 2017, Valle de Uco, Tunuyán, Mendoza, Argentina 

$27.99 I 91/100

UPC: 3258691254579

Clos de los Siete is a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and a little Petit-Verdot and Cabernet Franc. The styling is all Bordeaux, and it is polished and elegant. It represents France and Argentina’s best, offering restraint and rich, powerful black fruit with a strong sense of terroir. The tannins are dense but supple and will only disappear as time slips away. It’s a delicious wine at a fair price that you need to decant at the moment or that you can cellar for five to seven more years until it reaches its peak.


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Gérard Bertrand Domaine de l’Aigle Chardonnay 2018, Limoux, Languedoc, France 

$38.99 I 90/100

UPC: 03514120103017

Domaine de l’Aigle is situated in Limoux, a high-altitude Languedoc terroir with a long history of growing outstanding Chardonnay grapes, similar to Burgundy. The freshness grabs you, lending this Chardonnay a lot of credibility amongst its French peers. The palate is bright with enticing pastry pulling you into the glass. White fruits, peaches, and nutty lees with a twist of citrus set up a wet stone, marzipan finish, dusted with age. Serve with roast turkey or assorted seafood dishes in creamy sauces. Ready to drink.

Emiliana Coyam 2018, Valle del Colchagua, Valle del Rapel, Chile 

$28 I 92/100


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UPC: 07804320081496

Coyam is a winner from top to bottom, and considering it is an important Chilean red, the price is an absolute giveaway at $29.99. Balanced and well-balanced, it opens with a dense, dark colour that describes its perfect textures. It has been farmed Biodynamically and certified organic for years, only adding to its attraction. The blend is 42 per cent Syrah and 39 per cent Carmenere followed by bits and pieces of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Garnacha, Petit Verdot, Carignan, Tempranillo, and mourvèdre all grown at an idyllic site in Colchagua. The nose is an expressive black olive, floral, cocoa affair with classic mint in the background. Round and ripe, the tannins are seamless, and the acidity is perfect.


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Burrata Orchard Salad from Bruno Restaurant.
Burrata Orchard Salad from Bruno Restaurant. Photo by Andres Markwart Photography

Recipe match: Buratta orchard salad

A “classic” dish from the Richmond-based sustainable restaurant Bruno, this recipe celebrates the bounty of local B.C. fruits. The eatery’s team says the dish is “light, easy to make, and bursting with fresh and lively flavours.” Feel free to sub in any of the sweet fresh fruit components with what’s in season for a farm-fresh feel.

Buratta orchard salad

1/2 oz (14 g) plums

1 oz (28 g) blueberries

4 oz (114 g) heirloom tomatoes

1/2 oz (14 g) baby cucumbers

1/2 avocado

1/2 oz (14 g) walnuts

1 oz (28 g) arugula

3 tbsp (45 mL) verjus dressing

1 tbsp (15 mL) balsamic gelee

1 x 4 oz (113 g) ball fresh burrata

Balsamic gelee

10 oz (284 g) balsamic vinegar

1 oz (28 g) balsamic reduction

1/2 tbsp (7.5 mL) agar


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1 1/2 tsp (7.5 mL) sugar

Combine all ingredients in a pot and bring to a simmer, whisk well to dissolve the sugar and agar. Cook for 5 minutes. Take off heat and chill until the mixture completely solidifies. Once solid, puree in a blender until smooth.

Yields 300 mL.

Verjus dressing

1/3 cup (80 mL) verjus

1/2 tbsp (7.5 mL) smooth Dijon mustard .5 TBSP

1/4 cup (60 mL) canola oil

3/4 cup (180 mL) olive oil

1/2 oz (14 g) honey

Salt, to taste

Combine vinegar, verjus, honey and mustard together and blend with a stick blender. Slowly add canola oil and olive oil. The dressing should be thick and emulsified. Season with salt. Place into a squeeze bottle.


Cut fresh plums and heirloom tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Slice thinly the cucumbers and avocado. Toss all items in a bowl with verjus dressing. Place dressed items into a serving bowl atop arugula, and place burrata in the centre.


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Cut burrata open and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic gelee on top of burrata and top with walnuts and blueberries. Enjoy!

Serves 2. 

Recipe match

A buratta salad with fruit and some active ingredients has me leaning toward Gruner Veltliner that has the fruit and freshness to take on the dish. 

Peak Cellars Grüner Veltliner 2020, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $24

Juicy papaya, lime rind and sagebrush flavours mix with crushed stone that should easily enliven this salad.

Fort Berens Grüner Veltliner 2020, British Columbia $19.99

Medium rich with a touch of minerality and desert scrub throughout its creamy, soft, pear palate makes this a like-like match with the burrata cheese.



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