Well, here we are again --Thanksgiving is upon us and we haven't bought wine yet. The good thing is that all wine stores are open and bulging at the seams with good values at good prices. Another good thing is that the Beaujolais Nouveau hype seems to be mostly behind us. All the stories were mainly arranged for television, which truly buys into hype in a big way, as long as there are pictures to accompany it. But tales of fast planes like the Concorde and speedboats and such, getting the bottles to the restaurants just before midnight, were so much malarkey. The wine has been around for several weeks being distributed to retailers and bars.
There's less of that these days, and wine shops are carrying less of it. Some local outlets have only one or two different winemakers.
Beaujolais Nouveau, by the way, is from the 2009 vintage, so it has no aging of any sort except a few weeks in the bottle. It is made in the Beaujolais region, which borders on Burgundy, and is made from Gamay grapes, or is supposed to be. It is light of body, easy to drink and will not improve with age. Drink it by New Year's Eve, or certainly by George Washington's birthday, or mine, which occurs earlier in the same month. It does go well with turkey, and it is inexpensive. But you probably can get a better wine for the same amount of money.
But for the sake of continuity, I did sample a few. A couple arrived on my doorstep a week before the magic day (the Thursday before Thanksgiving).
Georges Duboeuf makes a Beaujolais Nouveau and a Beaujolais Villages Nouveau, which is a little better and a dollar more expensive ($11 against $10). The Villages has good flavor and balance, pleasant flavor and is a worthy drink. Its cousin has a floral nose, a flavor of strawberry and a short finish.
Joseph Drouhin, a veteran winemaker like Duboeuf, offers a $10 Nouveau that is more reminiscent of cherries than strawberries. It shows medium body, not much finish and some tannins that are not very well balanced. Laboure-Roi, another long-time producer ($11) brings an aroma and a flavor of cherry jello and was sweet on the palate.
All right, so what would I recommend for the Thanksgiving table? My first recommendation is to visit your wine-seller, tell him (or her) how much you want to spent and ask for a French Gamay or a California (or Oregon) Pinot Noir that's on the lighter side. You'll end up with a wine that will be excellent with your meal, and a tab of less than $15.
Something more specific? Well, I tasted an excellent Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir recently, though it did cost $24, and for the white wine fancier, a Mondavi Fume Blanc ($18) that is superior with fowl. A pair of value wines from Bogle, each $11, included a 2007 Zinfandel and a 2006 Petite Sirah. Dry Creek Vineyard has a Sonoma County Heritage Zinfandel, at $18, that will be fine company on the dining room table.