Thanksgiving Pinot Noir & Riesling
When we think about wine for Thanksgiving dinner, two varietals stand out - Pinot Noir and Riesling. Generally, they both have what it takes to pair with the variety of flavors on the plate. Balanced in profile, with fine acids and vibrant fruit, they allow the food to shine. Light in body, they won’t overpower the turkey. Complex in character, they are suited to fine dining moments.
With this in mind, we are super excited about a new producer that we’re bringing in from New Zealand, Tongue in Groove. They make only only three wines - a Pinot Noir, a Riesling and a orange wine called “Little Stomper.” The labels, which are funky and fun, reflect the spirit of the brand, while the outstanding juice inside expresses the experience and passion of the team. Not only do their wines pair perfectly with the food on the Thanksgiving plate, but they also add an element of playfulness and personality.
The winery is located on a farm in the Waipara Valley in North Canterbury, where this permaculture property sets the standards for organic agriculture and local sustainability. In this serene valley, just east of the Southern Alps on New Zealand’s South Island, the climate is relatively cool and the soils are extremely well draining. This ideal confluence of soil and climate is producing wines with concentrated flavors and expressive varietal character. Already known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Waipara is quickly building a reputation for its stunning Rieslings as well.
Brought together by their love of wine and food, the owners of Tongue in Groove are a group of six people who have known each other for years. Lynette Hudson, the Winemaker, and Nick Gill, the “vine tender,” are steeped in pedigree and have worked decades in other highly esteemed wineries throughout New Zealand. Tongue in Groove is a passion project for them, which generally bodes well for those of us enjoying the wines. The result is an extremely expressive and exciting Pinot Noir and Riesling.
The Pinot Noir comes from the Cabal Vineyard on the north slopes of the Waipara Valley, where vines are planted in nutrient-poor and well-draining clay and limestone. This vine “struggle” contributes to the linear, driven profile and abundant structure and spice in the wine. In the winery, 40-percent of the grapes are kept whole cluster to capture the generous dark fruit character and fine tannins. After fermentation, it is aged for 16 months in French oak barrels, adding balance and elegance. The resulting wine has a seductive, savory character with exotic spices, ripe plum and black cherries.
The Riesling is from the Bedford Vineyard, which grows on a north-facing, free-draining terrace cut by glaciers. After the grapes were gently pressed, the juice remained on the lees for 5 to 6 days to intensify the distinctive mandarin aromas of the Waipara Valley. A slow, cool fermentation progressed naturally, finishing just shy of dryness. This small amount of residual sugar lends balance and fullness to the grape’s inherently bright acids. The wine has a rich, long palate loaded with passionfruit, orange peel and honey. The finish is bright and clean, primed for food (or the next sip).
If you set these bottles out on the Thanksgiving table this year, you will not be dissapointed. They are small production wines made by a quirky, passion-fueled team and the result is delicious and bursting with personality. These are a direct import for us, so you won’t find them elsewhere, which adds another interesting find to your holiday table as well.