Our blog was created to help make the world of wine and beer easier to understand and fun to navigate. There are a million things to know in this industry, we just want to help you understand the latest news and trends from around the globe. So sit back with your favorite sip and let's go on an adventure.
Trousseau is somewhat of a mystery to many wine drinkers. Indigenous to the Jura region of France, in the town of Montigny-les-Arsures, the dark-skinned grape varietal has quite the history in Europe and is known to have been cultivated for at least 200 years under a variety of names. Curiously, until recently it has most widely been known in Portugal as Bastardo where it is made into dry red table wines as well as their most famous exports, Porto and Madeira. In Spain, it can be found under other names, Merenzao and Verdejo Negro, where it is used both alone and in red blends.
The most compelling Trousseau are those that can be coaxed into a subtle and balanced expression of tart red fruit, minerality and mossy earth. Trousseau can easily become a high-octane wine, due to the naturally abundant sugars in the grape varietal. Due to this, it can be considered fully ripe and ready to pick when at a lower sugar level than other varietals, thus producing a wine that is higher in acid with less alcohol.
I first discovered Trousseau while “palate trouncing” through the wines of the Jura in my first years in the restaurant world. I was instantly taken by these unusual and rustic wines, at times confused by their strangeness and curious as to what made them so much different than the polished New and Old-World wines to which I’d become so accustomed. The initial rawness and brutality impressed but intimidated me. I was confused but not put off. As I began to dig deeper into the world of Jura wine, I discovered there existed a subtlety and odd grace to these wines that I had never had the opportunity of tasting. Odd grace – like an elephant on ice skates.
Let’s not beat around the bush: I have fallen for Trousseau. I am drawn to varietals with strange minerality and evocative dark forest matter, bright and light fruit piercing through the undergrowth to create a truly compelling wine. It can take on notes of light and bright sour cherries, ripe red fruit and expiring green matter or, depending on vinification technique, become a pungent, alcohol-driven, red fruit beast in need of a good chill. It is the forgotten street poet of grapes – full of nuance, easily irritable (thus “Bastardo”), and waiting for recognition of its subtle, easily-overlooked beauty.
New World winemakers are clearly catching on to the appeal of the varietal and Trousseau plantings are popping up with established producers’ names attached throughout the West Coast of the U.S., notably in regions where Pinot Noir, Gamay, and other Burgundian varietals have shown a success.
For the wine drinker who appreciates Pinot Noir and Gamay, these wines should easily appeal. This is food wine: gracefully footed with delightful acid and bright, pungent fruit expression, offering excellent pairing opportunities.
Pair Trousseau with: Game birds, smoked pork, berry reduction sauces, paté, or hard cow’s milk cheese (Morbier, e.g.).
“Bring in the bottled lightning, a clean tumbler, and a corkscrew.” - Dickens
It’s that time of year again: the day when we get to see old friends, family, and stuff ourselves until we cannot move. That’s right, Thanksgiving - the sweet and delectable Turkey Day. I personally love this day, getting to share two completely different feasts with my and my wife’s families. It has always been one of my favorite meals to prepare and to share as we sit around and talk about all we have to be thankful for that year. This uniquely American holiday’s history has given us a fairly good idea of what to eat (or not…I’m looking at you, Neil), but the question becomes: what should we drink?
Let’s start by saying, there is no “right” or “wrong” paring when it comes to sharing a wine or beer with your family and friends. There is, however, a nice selection of wines that might just make the perfect pairing to send your taste buds to the moon. So, where do we start?
I have always heard the fun “rule” for pairing wine and food is “if it grows together, it goes together.” The idea being that wines and food from the same regional cuisine have evolved together and usually play nice when served at the dinner table. This idea is great in concept and relatively easy to apply to most dishes, but all of the flavors of Thanksgiving make it a bit more of a complicated process. That being said, I’m here to share a few of my favorite wines and beers that pair delightfully with Thanksgiving and that we currently have in stock at The Thief.
If it’s a red wine that you’re after, you can rely on a relatively new wine to myself but an old standby to the Gamay Gal, Emily Riley! Beaujolais wines produced from the gamay grape in the far southern reaches of Burgundy are a near perfect match for all of your Turkey Day fixings. Lighter in body and softer on the palate than something like a Cabernet or Merlot, Beaujolais is a plush wine, with notes of cherries, and red berries that carry acidity. This makes it a wine that can cut through the fatty, light flavors of Thanksgiving. If you want to try my personal favorite, ask for Marcel Lapierre’s Raisins Gaulois Vin de France 2017 - $21.
For whites, a fuller-bodied wine will stand up nicely to the rich dishes on your dining room table. That, to me, means a nice Chardonnay or Viognier-based wine with some acidity to cut through the multitude of flavors. One of my personal favorites for holiday meals is Les Heritiers des Comte Lafon Macon-Villages 2017 - $32. This particular wine is from a biodynamic estate and has a Chablis-esque nerve with bread crust, lemon and apple flavors that can cut through the fattiest gravies.
Finally, if you are not a wine fan and looking for a beer that pairs with the foods of the season, look no further than a recent festival held in Germany - Oktoberfest! The traditional Oktoberfest lager from Germany is often a bit maltier and has a heavier body than a more traditional light pilsner or lager. But this hint of more roasty and malty flavors augments nearly every dish that might make it to the Thanksgiving Day dinner table. My personal favorite is the Ayinger Oktoberfest - $5. It is probably partly the nostalgia of visiting the brewery during a freak hailstorm last summer that makes me love this brewery, but this is a critics’ choice beer and one that will bring a smile to even the most discerning palate.
In the end, Thanksgiving is about celebrating our blessings, so whatever beverage ends up on your table, raise your glass and toast to the things that make you most thankful!
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