Terrific wines to accompany the turkey

VINTAGE POINT

November 22, 1992|By Michael Dresser

There are hundreds of wines that fit into the four general categories of wine I recommend for Thanksgiving turkey. These happen to be the ones I tried that worked:

Alsace pinot gris

* 1989 Kuentz-Bas Tokay Pinot Gris, Cuvee Tradition ($16). Full, rich, loaded with peach, spice, apricot, coconut, banana and other fruit flavors. The concentration and grip are exceptional.

* 1990 Schoffit Tokay Pinot Gris, Harth ($14). This classic, creamy wine has a soft texture but a backbone of steel. It's full of apricot, spice, banana, pear and even mild cheese nuances, with a dab of orange and almond just to keep things interesting.

NOTE: If you are unable to find a pinot gris from these producers, your chances will be good with 1989s or 1990s from Lucien Albrecht, Marcel Deiss, Hugel, Josmeyer, Albert Mann, Schlumberger, Piere Sparr, Trimbach, Domaine Weinbach and Zind-Humbrecht.

Burgundy and pinot noir

* 1990 Jadot Santenay "Clos de Malte," ($18.59). Structured, medium-bodied, delicate. Needs a few hours of breathing if served this year. A very pure, structured Burgundy with a nice touch of cherry and light tannin.

* 1989 Domaine Michel Lafarge Bourgogne ($17). A big, ripe, forward wine, far beyond the usual quality of regional Bourgognes. It has a lot of chunky, grapey charm. It's not complex, but there are no rough edges and it matches up quite well with a roasted bird. Drink this year or next.

* 1980 Saintsbury Carneros Pinot Noir ($15). This precisely focused wine aims a laser beam of black cherry flavor at the palate and fires. You could call it one-dimensional, but that single dimension is a total delight.

* 1990 Sanford Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County ($17.69). An enticing, floral nose is followed by a blast of flavor. This wine needs several hours of breathing to loosen up; in fact, it tasted better 24 hours after being opened and recorked. There's lots of cherry, black raspberry and spice happening here.

Zinfandel

* 1990 Rosenblum Cellars Zinfandel, Sonoma County ($12). Rich, ripe, lush and intense. This peppery, berry-flavored wine seems at first sip to be too much to go with poultry, but somehow it works beautifully with a roasted bird.

* 1990 Mazocco Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley ($14). This is one excep-tional zinfandel. It just jumps out at you with raspberry, chocolate and sweet American oak flavors. Great intensity, formidable complexity. A gripping zinfandel that tastes like a cross between a great Cote Rotie from the Rhone and a Torres Coronas Black Label.

NOTE: You need the right kind of zinfandel, one that's chunky, rounded and lush rather than one that's elegant and claret-like. Some good choices: Ravenswood, Coturri, Lytton Springs, Dry Creek Old Vines, Cline, Frey, Rafanelli, Trentadue. I love Ridge, but it's not right for turkey.

German spatlese riesling

* 1990 Wachenheimer Rechbachel Riesling Spatlese, Dr. Burklin-Wolf ($14, Rheinpfalz). Wow! This is precisely the right note to go with turkey. Lush, spicy, lightly sweet but with a dry, serious soul. This wine just works on so many levels. It's mouth-filling and sensual but also complex. There's a bready, toasty quality reminiscent of Champagne, but also exotic flavors of honey, apple and orange rind. Bravo!

* 1989 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese, Willi Schaefer ($12, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer). Apple, slate, honey, almond and chestnut flavors interplay entrancingly in this complex, intense, classic Mosel.

* 1989 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spatlese, Fuder No. 9 ($12). Lots of zip and mineral flavor in this crisp wine. It's leaner than the Schaefer, but perhaps more cunning with food. It has a long finish and loads of class.

NOTE: These specific German wines might be hard to find, but expert wine salespeople should be able to recommend something comparable from Terry Theise Selections.

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