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October 26, 2009

Unconventional Thanksgiving Wines

I've just turned in a Creators Syndicate column on the joys of eclectic or non-traditional wines for that most traditional of American holidays -- Thanksgiving.

When we think of Thanksgiving wines the conventional wisdom leans toward Beaujolais, red and white Burgundy, domestic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and sometimes Pinot Gris.

Nothing wrong with those choices. Wines of that ilk will certainly be the backbone of my major Thanksgiving wine piece. But for argument's sake, and to encourage exploration, I suggest in this week's Creators column (available at Whitley On Wine) domestic Gewurztraminer, Barbera, Cabernet Franc and a couple of sparkling red wines.

One of these, the bubbly Rosa Regale, will appeal to those who wish to imbibe on lower-alcohol wines throughout the Thanksgiving Day feast. Not to mention the fact this Italian delight is delicious.

I recommend a number of dry Gewurztraminer's, but I have to say the Dutton Goldfield Dutton Ranch is my personal favorite. I'm fond, too, of another Sonoma County wine that I suggest with a slew of Cab Franc options, and that's the Raymond Burr Cabernet Franc.

And finally, I single out a number of domestic and Italian Barberas, but don't believe there's a better value in the bunch than the $12 Michele Chiarlo Barbera d'Asti Le Orme. It's not only cheap, but a superb food wine to boot!

Posted by Robert Whitley at 11:39 AM

October 19, 2009

Myers, Beaulac Aboard for Winemaker Challenge

I never dreamed when I set out to round up judges for the first Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition that I would end up with such an accomplished group.

For one thing, I knew the dates in late January might pose a schedule conflict for many of the winemakers I wanted. It's at that time of the year, just after the holidays and while the vineyards are dormant, that winemakers hit the road for all-important visits to far-flung markets.

I missed out on Eileen Crane of Domaine Carneros and Christian Roguenant of Baileyana for just that reason. Still, I persevered, and last week just about put the finishing touches on the cast of winemakers for Winemaker Challenge, a wine competition in which all of the judges are winemakers.

To the stellar group already assembled we added Janet Myers and Michael Beaulac, two of the brightest stars in the Napa Valley. Janet makes the wines at Mount Veeder Vineyards and Franciscan, and Michael only last April took the reins at Pine Ridge following stints at St. Supery, Markham and Murphy-Goode.

More winemakers could be added as the competition nears, but for now I feel very good about the number of judges and the extraordinary level of winemaking talent we've assembled. Click here to view the complete list of winemakers for the 2010 Winemaker Challenge.

My goal with the Challenge series of wine competitions, and this includes the Critics Challenge and Sommelier Challenge, is to provide impeccable wine evaluations from credible professionals -- and thus, wine judgings that are second to none.

I firmly believe we're almost there!

Posted by Robert Whitley at 1:12 PM