Traditional Thanksgiving Day wine pairings usually suggest a light-bodied red wine like a young French beaujolais or perhaps a gamay. But, hello! This is America’s most homegrown holiday so why not give thanks with a fantastic pinot noir grown right here in the PNW? Part One of my Turkey Day wine suggestions features Willamette Valley pinots best known for cherry pie and earthy forest floor undertones.
Knudsen Vineyards Pinot Noir 2014
(Dundee Hills; $55)
Established in 1971, Knudsen Vineyard is one of the valley’s oldest grape growing sites producing top quality fruit for many acclaimed winemakers in the region. In 2014, Knudsen released its first wine label in 25 years (a 2012 pinot noir by winemaker Nate Klostermann). The 2014 vintage gives off that distinctive cherry pie aroma with notes of cranberry (a perfect holiday pairing!) and baking spices. The finish is long and elegant, velvety on the palate. There is both history and forward progress in this wine.
Torii Mor La Colina Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014
(Dundee Hills; $60)
The winery’s name is derived from a Japanese Torii gate on the property combined with the Scandinavian word for “earth” expressing the unique way pinot noir grapes convey terrior. Sustainability is the name of the game at Torri Mor where the vineyards are LIVE certified and the winery is LEED certified. This garnet-colored wine is heady and seductive from the first whiff of dark candied cherries and chocolate. Though the nose promises syrup, the taste is in no way cloying, but rather possesses prodigious acidity across the tongue and silky, fruity finish. For a lighter touch, try the Torii Mor Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($28), a blend of 12 vineyards across the valley. It has a very light touch, with blackberry and shroomy notes.
Adelsheim Breaking Ground Pinot Noir 2014
(Chehalem Mountains; $45)
In keeping with its pioneer spirit as one of the founding wineries in the valley, Adelsheim released Breaking Ground – made from 100% LIVE-certified Chehalem-grown fruit representing all three soil types found in the AVA. The vineyard and winemaking maturity seep into the aromas of black raspberry and floral spice. The alluring acidity creeps around the back of the tongue delivering soft flavors of cocoa and dark cherry.
Fullerton Five FACES Pinot Noir 2014
(Willamette Valley; $33)
A blend of three vineyards planted in three soil types, Five FACES (an acronym for the five Fullerton family members) smells of plum, cloves, and forest floor – sort of a spiced fruit compote aroma. Not a typical “cherry bomb,” Five FACES tastes of caramel and roasted coffee in an Old World nod to winemaking. This wine would pair well with mushroom risotto and vegetarian dishes as well as with the turkey.