For most, this year’s Thanksgiving will take a vastly different form. Gatherings of family and friends are facing tough concessions on smaller numbers, different venues, hosting remotely over Zoom or another online platform or cancellation entirely.
“It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving, but we still have a shot at Christmas,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week.
Given all of the uncertainty surrounding menu-planning and logistics for hosting a festive feast during a pandemic, let’s make wine selections be the least of your worries. These 10 wines have been singled out for their pleasurable character and (mostly) accessible price points.
And even if you’re forgoing a celebration, this week’s selections are enjoyable without turkey, stuffing or any foodstuff that’s an essential part of a Thanksgiving menu.
Best’s Great Western Riesling 2019 (Australia)
Conversation about Australian riesling tends to begin and end with those made in the Clare and Eden valleys of South Australia. This fresh and vibrant white wine from Victoria is a welcome reminder that terrific examples come from other parts of the country as well. Its zesty fruit intensity is nicely balanced by a slight sweetness on the palate that makes it really tasty right now, with impressive structure to age. Drink now to 2030. Available in Ontario.
Bodegas Beronia Tempranillo 2018 (Spain)
Beronia is owned by Gonzalez Byass, one of Spain’s best-known sherry producers. An expressive 100-per-cent tempranillo from Rioja, this medium-bodied dry red is nicely balanced and structured. It offers complexity and length for the price, with classic cherry and plum notes enhanced by vanilla and spice notes. Drink now to 2023. Available in Ontario at the above price ($11.95 until Oct. 11), $14.99 in Manitoba, $13.70 in Quebec.
Carmel Road Winery Chardonnay 2018 (United States)
This rich and ripe expression of chardonnay comes from Clark Ranch, located on the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains in Monterey County, Calif. It’s made in a fruity and flavourful style, with yellow apple, tropical and peach fruit flavours that carry through to a satisfying finish. Old oak barrels were used for a small portion of the blend to build richness and texture, without adding any of the obvious vanilla or spice notes commonly associated with oak-aged chardonnay. The majority was fermented and aged in a stainless-steel tank to preserve the fresh, fruity character. Drink now to 2023. Available at the above price in Ontario, $22.98 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $23.60 in Quebec, $32.99 in New Brunswick.
Cloudline Pinot Noir 2018 (United States)
An affordable brand created by Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Cloudline continues to be a ripe and enjoyable expression of Willamette Valley pinot. Its fresh acidity and gentle tannins nicely balance the ripe core of juicy fruit and attractive spice notes. The silky texture adds to its enjoyment and appeal. Drink now to 2024. Available at the above price in Ontario, various prices in Alberta, $25.85 in Quebec, $32.99 in New Brunswick.
Conundrum White 2018 (United States)
Made in a crowd-pleasing style, Conundrum continues to be an intensely floral, intensely spicy, intensely fruity white wine. You could say it’s intensely fragrant and flavourful. Fans of profoundly perfumed white wines, such as moscato or gewurztraminer, should take note of this exotic blend of chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, semillon, muscat canelli and viognier. This is the white wine that inspired the aromatic white blend category when it was launched in 1989. It’s evolved since then, with less sweetness and more freshness than before, but the same full-on personality. Drink now to 2022. Available at the above price in Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec, various prices in Alberta, $23.49 in Saskatchewan, $24.99 in Nova Scotia, $28.35 in Newfoundland, $24.99 in Prince Edward Island.
Don David Reserve Malbec 2018 (Argentina)
Don David is the entry-level range made by El Esteco in the Calchaqui Valley in northern Argentina. This is a robust red, with complex earthy, spice and floral notes alongside dark-fruit aromas and flavours. It’s a rich style of malbec that is flavourful enough to enjoy on its own or with your choice of roasted, barbecued or braised meat dishes. Drink now to 2025. Available in Ontario at the above price ($15 until Oct. 11), $16.99 in British Columbia and Saskatchewan ($14.99 until Oct. 3), various prices in Alberta, $15.95 in Manitoba, $16.79 in New Brunswick, $17.99 in Nova Scotia, $15.69 in Newfoundland, $17.99 in Prince Edward Island.
Fish Hoek Shiraz 2017 (South Africa)
Made in a pleasantly smooth and fruity yet dry style, this affordable medium-bodied South African syrah offers nice fruit and spice notes. A certified Fairtrade product, its farming and winemaking practices have been audited to ensure they’re not harming the environment or community. Drink now to 2022. Available in Ontario at the above price ($9 until Oct. 11).
Peter Lehmann Layers Red 2017 (Australia)
A unique red blend from the Barossa, Layers offers a blend of the expected – shiraz, grenache and mourvèdre – with a surprise guest appearance from tempranillo. The result is an easy-going red that’s fruity and enjoyable. Drink now to 2022. Available at the above price in Ontario, various prices in Alberta, $18.99 in Saskatchewan, $16.99 in Manitoba.
Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling 2018 (Australia)
A long-standing classic from Australia, Pewsey Vale produces a range of electric styles of riesling from one of the most celebrated vineyards in the Eden Valley. The 2018 offers a yin and yang of bright citrus fruit and ripe tropical and tree-fruit notes, with some herbal and floral accents that add complexity. The racy style makes it a brilliant wine to enjoy with a meal. Vegan friendly. Drink now to 2027. Available at the above price in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $24.99 in New Brunswick.
Speck Brothers Family Tree The Goat Lady Chardonnay 2019 (Canada)
This crowd-pleasing chardonnay comes from the Speck brothers, whose family owns and operates Henry of Pelham winery in Niagara. Its name refers to a goat-keeping neighbour from when the Specks were planting the vineyard in the 1980s. The style is ripe and creamy, with nicely integrated apple, lemon and oak spice flavours. Drink now to 2022. Available in Ontario at the above price ($14.95 until Oct. 11).
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