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This article is in two parts. The first is Thanksgiving Past 2012 and this is followed by last year’s article Thanksgiving Past 2011 which first appeared November 29, 2011.


Thanksgiving has come and gone for another year. I trust all of you had a wonderful celebration. We certainly did. The recent Thanksgiving article included food recipes and the wines served last Thanksgiving (to read that article click here [1]). .

Following are notes on the wines we enjoyed with our Thanksgiving meal this year and other wines that we enjoyed with Thanksgiving “left overs”. Also, I have added notes on some of the menu adjustments we made this year. We added some dishes and slightly altered others. It is always fun to “tweak” recipes based on what is available or just for a different taste. And, in the case of the Thanksgiving recipes, they are ones we have developed over the years starting from scratch or amending basic recipes to our taste. So it follows that they are always subject to slight variations. This is a big part of what makes cooking fun! Throughout are photo highlights of our 2012 Thanksgiving Day. This should provide for interesting food and drink for thought and something to contemplate for next year!


This year I decided to add two current vintages. I chose from the list of wines recommended in the “New Wines For The Upcoming Holidays” article (to read that article click here [2]). After all, at the Underground we eat our own cooking and drink our wine recommendations! I wanted to add a white wine to the line up and chose 2011 Gundlach Bundschu Gewürtztraminer Estate Sonoma Coast. It was spicy and had enough fruit and character to go nicely with the turkey, but it was really best with the appetizers where we enjoyed it as well as our traditional sparkling wine and cherry liqueur drink. The 2011 Couly-Dutheil René Couly Chinon Rosé was another current choice for its bright fruit. It was delicious with the turkey and the savory and sweet accompaniments (to read notes on both of these wines click here [3] or on the link above). For older wines I chose 2009 Charles Joquet Chinon Rosé, 2007 Ojai Vineyard Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills Clos Pepe Vineyard, 2003 Jean Foillard Morgon Côte du Py, and 2002 Ridge Vineyards Geyserville. All of these wines went beautifully with our Thanksgiving meal. The notes on each wine are listed below:

2009 Charles Joquet Chinon Rosé.

While most rosés are consumed within a year or so of the year they are made, I find that most will age for several years and some for even longer periods. This 2009 Chinon Rosé is an example of a rosé that has softened with age and developed an intriguing spiciness. The berry fruit is still in evidence, but it is more subdued and rounder. It is very tasty and a gorgeous complement to a wide variety of foods – Outstanding.

2007 Ojai Vineyard Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills Clos Pepe Vineyard.

Ojai Vineyard has a long standing history of making wonderful wines that are balanced and age worthy (to read the article on Ojai Vineyards click here [4]). This 2007 Pinot Noir is a lovely example of a Pinot Noir that is drinking well now, but undoubtedly will continue to evolve for many years. The wine has a deep color with an amber edge and a floral plummy perfume with hints of spice and pepper. It is rounded and supple with plum like fruit showing a tinge of spice, smoke, and green olive and has depth and balance – Highly Recommended/Outstanding.

2003 Jean Foillard Morgon Côte du Py.

Always a pleasure to drink, the Cru Beaujolais from top producers such as Jean Foillard are wines that really shine with some age. Now 9 years old this wine is gorgeous and likely to remain so for many years. It has a nice color with faint amber edge and a deep floral spicy perfume with an exotic tinge. With lovely spice tinged fruit, the wine is elegant, lush, soft, supple, silky and very pure with a nice underlying crispness on the finish – Outstanding.

2002 Ridge Vineyards Geyserville.

This 2002 Geyserville is mostly Zinfandel (84%) blended with Carignane (12%) and Petite Sirah (4%). Paul Draper said at the time of bottling that this wine had the potential to develop beautifully over the next 10 or more years. So here we are right at that mark and the wine is spot on. It has a dark color with just a faint amber tinge and a great perfume of cassis and plum fruit with hints of herbs and spice. Complex and spicy with intriguing floral herbal undertones the wine has lots of cassis and plum fruit and is supple with great flavor and balance. Seemingly at a peak now, but likely to remain so for many more years – Outstanding.



This year with an abundance of ripe avocados, we added guacamole and fresh tortilla chips and amended our vegetable spread with the addition of small amounts of Cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, sea salt, and apple cider vinegar. The fresh guacamole was wonderful and the additions to the vegetable spread made it the best ever.


This year we cooked two small turkeys “au natural” with just a slight coating of soy sauce



The fresh turkeys were cooked one at a time and basted with unsalted butter. The result was turkey that was very moist and with great flavor. And, we had plenty of drumsticks for all who wanted one!


Ready again for the long awaited Thanksgiving meal


This year by popular demand we baked buttermilk biscuits prepared from prepackaged dough (this is our one deviation from making everything from scratch) accompanied by sweet French butter. There was also a slight change made to the sweet potatoes and apples. Before cooking, two cups of fresh apple juice were reduced to make a light syrup which was poured over the dish and 1 cup of small raw pecans were sprinkled over the top. After cooking, chopped pieces of dried orange peel were sprinkled over the top. This greatly added to the complexity of the dish.


Last year we had we had a great 1977 Ridge Zinfandel Monte Bello. I commented that “…this wine gets my vote as the best old ‘Under The Radar’ red wine of all time.” We also had 2 great 1977 California Cabernet Sauvignons. (Complete notes on these wines are in the Thanksgiving Past 2011 article which follows). And, as I have repeatedly said, many California Cabernet Sauvignons from 1977 (as well as many from 1976 and 1978) continue to be some of the best California wines ever made and have a long life ahead. But, the 1977 Ridge Zinfandel Monte Bello was a real stunner and a total surprise!

This year our Thanksgiving celebration extended for a shorter period than last year so I chose to do only two wines. First, a repeat of the 1994 Ridge Vineyards Geyserville (68% Zinfancel, 20% Carignane, 8% Petite Sirah, and 4% Mataro) from last year. And the 1994 Ridge Vineyards Zinfandel Pagani Ranch (75% Zinfandel, 18% Mataro, 4% Alicante, and 3% Petite Sirah) which was so fruity when young. I felt this would be an interesting comparison and it was just that. The Geyserville was exactly as last year rounded, balanced, complex and delicious. The Pagani, on the other hand, was different and absolutely still brimming with fruit. Lush and rounded with exotic spice nuances that have evolved over time, it too is at a peak and totally delicious to drink with layers of flavor. Both of these wines were great pairings with our Thanksgiving “left overs”.




remembering thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has come and gone for another year. I trust all of you had a wonderful celebration. We certainly did. As I promised in my Thanksgiving article (to read that article which includes recipes click here [5]), here are notes on the wines we enjoyed with our Thanksgiving meal and other wines that we enjoyed with “leftovers”. Also, I have added a few photo highlights of our Thanksgiving day. The Holidays and New Year are fast approaching. Enjoy the season!




2003 Pascal Cotat Sancerre Chavignol.

Interesting that the word rosé does not appear anywhere on the bottle. But, make no mistake this is a stunning rosé now in its 8th year with no sign of fatigue. It is pale orange in color with a golden tone and golden hue. The perfume is stunning with hints of peach and citrus with floral, exotic fruit nuances. On the palate, the wine has great fruit with nuances of tropical fruit, peach and citrus and a faint underlying candied quality. It is lush, soft and rounded but with a lovely dry, crisp finish – a great contrast of yin and yang – Outstanding Plus. 3-n-half-yellow-stars

2004 Charles Melton Rose of Virginia.

What a shame. I thought I had a few bottles of this rosé left, but alas this is the very last bottle of any vintage that I have left. And, since it is no longer imported here I do not know when I may come across it again. (To read my article on this click here [6].) But, for now, this was a lovely swan song in its 7th year. I only wish I had more! Pale red in color with and amber tone and amber edge, the wine has a great perfume of cassis and raspberry with a faint floral undertone. It is intensely fruity with hints of cherry and raspberry and a lovely pomegranate kick on the finish – Outstanding. 3-yellow-stars

2003 Marcel Lapierre Morgon.

This is a gorgeous Cru Beaujolais now 8 years of age. It drinks beautifully at the moment and should keep for many more years. Light in color with a faint amber tone and an amber edge, the wine has a gorgeous complex perfume with hints of spice and green olive and earthy, foresty nuances. On the palate, it is lush and supple yet with a good underlying backbone. The flavors suggest earth, spice, and forest with a faint exotic faintly candied nuance followed by gorgeous tart cherry finish. This is a stunning Beaujolais that is intriguing, flavorful and complex with a great yin and yang quality – Outstanding Plus. 3-n-half-yellow-stars

1995 Ridge Vineyards Geyserville.

WOW! What a stunning wine. Made with a field blend consisting of 62% Zinfandel, 18% Petite Sirah, 15% Carignane, and 5% Mataro, the balance, complexity and flavors here nothing short of extraordinary. Ridge Geyserville is one of my favorite wines. It is amazingly consistent, but certainly this has to be one of the greatest Geyservilles ever. The perfume is amazing with intense mulberry fruit and briary, spice undertones. Round and lush, it has the structure of a great claret, but with a different flavor profile. Again, there is intense mulberry fruit, spice, a hint of cedar and a faint underlying briary nuance. The balance and complex flavors in the wine are matched with an equally impressive long, lingering finish. A real pleasure to drink now, but should hold well for many years – Exceptional. 4-yellow-stars

All four of these wines were delicious with our Thanksgiving feast. The rosés were lovely and a great counterpoint to the savory flavors of the vegetables and meat. The two reds were different, to be sure, but gorgeous complements to everything on the table.



turkey money shot








1977 Ridge Vineyards Zinfandel Monte Bello.

In our first post Thanksgiving Day dinner we had the great fortune to start with another WOW wine. I never suspected that the wine could be this good. But, guess what? It was mind boggling and left every one with a smile and a sense of awe and amazement after the first taste. This is one of the very greatest moments in wine and food. It is a time of great joy and appreciation to know that you are enjoying something that defies all expectations. Made from the second drought year in a row with yields of under 3/4 ton per acre, less than 500 cases were made. There cannot be much of it left on the planet. This bottle and one other have been in my cellar since release over 30 years ago. And who said that Zinfandel does not age? The wine consists of 100% Zinfandel grapes sourced from two great vineyards on Monte Bello Ridge, Jimsomare and Picchetti. The fruit was very similar from both vineyards so it was combined from the very beginning. The wine was described early on as having deep fruit and firm acidity. The alcohol was 12.8%. Paul Draper, in his very understated way, commented at bottling in April, 1979 that the wine would “open within six months and improve with 3-4 years bottle age.” The aging ability and tremendous quality of this wine surely is something that no one could have predicted. So, with that in mind, this wine gets my vote as the best old “Under The Radar” red wine of all time. With a deep color showing a faint amber tone and an amber edge, the wine has a simply fabulous perfume that is intense and complex with floral and spice nuances and a faint cedar, forest, and exotic berry undertone. The flavors are intense, complex and balanced with subtle floral, spice, foresty, and dark cherry nuances. Supple, lush, and rounded the finish goes on and on and has a gorgeous underlying crispness that carries the wine beautifully. This wine defies comparison, but I would say it is more Burgundian than anything else. And, as great as the wine is now, it shows absolutely no sign of fatigue – Extraordinary. 4-yellow-stars






1994 Ridge Vineyards Geyserville.

As I was pulling the 1995 Ridge Geyserville out of the cellar I noticed this 1994 so I took it as well. Here the field blend is slightly different (as it most always is), with 68% Zinfandel, 20% Carignane, 8% Petite Sirah, and 4% Mataro. This too is a lovely wine with great balance. It has a deep color and a lovely perfume with floral, spicy, briary nuances. The flavors show a complexity of fruits with plum and raspberry accented with a touch of spice and a faint briary3-yellow-stars quality – Outstanding



1977 Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon California.

The Mayacamas Cabernets take a long time to come around and this one is just hitting its stride. It has a dark color with a faint amber tone and amber edge. The perfume is gorgeous showing plum, cedar and spice. Now lush and rounded with a great intensity of fruit with a cedary, spice tinged complexity there is no hurry to drink this wine. Drink it now or for another decade or more – Outstanding Plus. 3-n-half-yellow-stars



1977 Mt. Veeder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford, Napa Valley Niebaum Coppola Vineyards.

Oh my! What a wine this is! It is a stunning example of the potential for this historic vineyard. The great old Inglenooks from the 1930s to the early 1960s are some of the greatest California Cabernets ever. Sadly, they have been in a long slumber since. But, then there is this absolutely great wine that is a match for some of the old Inglenooks. And, while it is absolutely delicious it is still a baby with a long life ahead. Dark in color there is only a faint hint of amber at the edge. The perfume is fantastic showing cassis and cedar with a touch of spice and a faint dustiness. It is very rich and flavorful with great balance. The flavors again show cassis and cedar with an underlying spicy, foresty, faintly earthy undertone. Very long on the palate, this is a fabulous wine for the ages – Extraordinary. 4-yellow-stars


So there you have it. The other wines we enjoyed over several nights after the Thanksgiving Day wines were finished. Again, they were great matches with our food.

And, what a treat to find such a treasure trove right here at home. Happy Holidays!

Thanksgiving Panorama night