Aspen Times Weekly: Giving Thanks — local wine experts share their picks for your holiday feast |

Aspen Times Weekly: Giving Thanks — local wine experts share their picks for your holiday feast

Stocked chock full for a busy weekend, The Wine Cellar at Carl's Pharmacy carries various liquers, sprits, beers and wines to suit any discerning palate. Aspen Times photo/Devon Meyers.

Buy it

Sopris Liquor and Wine

1026 Colorado 133, Carbondale 970.963.5880

Four Dogs Fine Wines & Spirits

Reed Street in Willits, Basalt 970.927.2002

Daly Bottle Shop

45 Village Run Circle Snowmass Village 970.923.4100

The Wine Cellar at Carl’s Pharmacy

306 E. Main St, Aspen 970.925.3273

The Grog Shop

710 E. Durant Ave., Aspen 970.925.3000

Of Grape and Grain

319 E. Hopkins Ave., Aspen


Aspen Wine & Spirits

300 Puppy Smith St., Aspen,


It is the best of all the holidays. Thanksgiving gives us a chance to reflect on our good fortune, get together with family and friends, and chow down on the foods of the season. It also gives us an excuse to get some great juice.

Rather than give my picks for wines to pair with your Turkey Day repasts, for the next couple of weeks I thought we would ask the experts, the wine guys at some of our Valley’s outstanding wine shops, to make some suggestions for you.

We’ll start downvalley and end up in Aspen. I asked each pro to select two whites and two reds. And because this is the quintessential American holiday, I stipulated that the bottles had to be American. That brought a bit of groaning from the boys, but they got over it. Here are the recommendations:

Beginning in ‘Bonedale, Johnny at Sopris Liquor and Wine tells us which wines will grace his table on Thanksgiving.

The whites:

• Zocker Paragon Vineyards Edna Valley Riesling 2009: $20.99

“I love Riesling, but they tend to get a bad name because of their sweetness. This Edna Valley Riesling is delicious, great minerality, dry, crisp and exotic.”

• Alexana Willamette Valley Pinot Gris 2012: $28.99

“Pinot Gris is always one of my go-to white wines. This wine from the Willamette Valley is rich and well balanced. One of the best domestic Pinot Gris I have tasted.”

And the reds:

• Cristom Mt. Jefferson Cuvee Pinot Noir 2011: $34.99

“We all love Pinot Noir, and this cuvee has always been a favorite in my glass. Pure Burgundy without the price.”

• Lang & Reed North Coast Cabernet Franc 2010: $27.99

“I will finish our main dish with this great example of Cabernet Franc. Absolutely delicious. All the wonderful vegetal characteristics you would find in a Loire wine, but from the North Coast of California. Trust your palate.”

Four Dogs Fine Wine and Spirits is the young pup in El Jebel and we asked Luke to make a few suggestions from his impressive collection of vino.

• Tangent Albarino 2012: $17.97

“From Edna Valley in California, this wine is crisp and refreshing, with tropical fruit flavors and good minerality.”

• Prisoner Blindfold 2012: $38.27

“From the Napa Valley, winemaker Jen Beloz and her team sought out interesting Rhône and aromatic varietals that would nicely complement a classic Chardonnay base.”

For his red fix, Luke went to Mendocino first, and then Lodi, in California:

• Organic Girasole Pinot Noir 2011: $17.97

“Flavors of cherry pie, mixed red fruit compote and spice flow seamlessly across your palate. Mendocino minerality and nice acids lend to a long and rich finish.”

Klinker Brick Zinfandel 2011: $18.27

“On the nose, aromatics black raspberry, cedar shavings are paired with pepper and spice. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, with berries and dark cherry flavors, balanced with firm structure and a silky texture.”

Up on the Village Mall in Snowmass, we asked Andy at the Daly Bottle Shop (yes, it is Daly, like the mountain) what he wanted for Thanksgiving. These are what he chose:

• Phoenix Ranch Viognier, 2010, Napa Valley: $39

“Tropical fruit and citrus zest dominate the nose, while a crisp finish makes it a lively pair for rich Thanksgiving flavors.”

• Appely Brut NV, Aeppeltreow Winery Wisconsin: $18

“Not a wine, obviously, but this dry hard cider presents an intriguing turkey table pairing. It’s produced with the Champagne technique from a blend of apple varieties.”

For his reds, Andy wants you to try:

• Chime Pinot Noir 2011, North Coast: $16

“Cranberry comes to mind in this elegant fruit-forward selection. Pass the sauce anyone?

• Tolosa Merlot, 2010, Central Coast: $19

“This rich selection finishes with balanced tannin and offers a welcomed contrast to buttery mashed potatoes and silky gravy.”

In Aspen this week the buzz, as has been the case for 47 years, is the annual wine sale at The Wine Cellar at Carl’s Pharmacy. Fritz — who is thankful this year for the healthy arrival of his 2-month-old baby girl Elle, David’s little sister — is working hard satiating the throngs in the store. Still, the happy father took the time to suggest the following wines

• Stags Leap Wine Cellars Napa Valley Karia 2011 Chardonnay: $24.49

“A classic. Butter in a glass”

• Elk Cove Vineyards 2012 Pinot Gris Willamette Valley: $14.59

“This is a vintage that is described as ‘stunning, amazing and epic,’ the wine has sweet and unctuous aromatics while showing crispness on the palate with vibrant citrus and grapefruit.”

Knowing how much we like Pinot Noir with our turkey, Fritz picked a couple of perfect pairings from California.

• Etude Carneros Pinot Noir 2010: $25.49

“These guys make their wine in the vineyard and this wine is sourced from a great place, the Grace Benoist vineyard. Yum.”

• Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2010: $38.69

“The Anderson Valley is the hot cool-climate region right now and the Duckhorn folks are making incredible wine at their Goldeneye property.” (More on them in a future column.)

Roger Carlsen at the Grog Shop loves to sell wine. To engage a customer, find out what they like, show them a few bottles, explain where they came from and who made the wine…. “And then they end up saying, “I’ll take some Scotch,’” he laughs. (And by the way, McCallan is the best-selling Scotch at the Grog Shop .)

But for this Thanksgiving, Roger would like to turn you onto the following:

• Klickitat Pinot Gris 2011 $18.99

Doug Margerum makes great wines in the hills outside of Santa Barbara but this Pinot Gris is sourced from both California and Washington state fruit. Soft on the palate, it is a lean, crisp wine that will pair great with the stuffing and the sprouts and potatoes. Not to mention the white meat.

• Wente Chardonnay 2012 $18.99

Big, rich, voluptuous. This is the kind of wine that people who don’t like California Chardonnay use as an example of why they don’t like it. But for the millions of folks who get it, the Wente Chard is a perfect wine for Thanksgiving.

• A to Z Pinot Noir 2011 $25.99

A lighter style Pinot from Oregon’s Willamette Valle this wine won’t overwhelm the turkey and has that beautiful, cherry-rose nose.

• Clos Du Bois Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $22.99

2011 is known as a difficult vintage but in some pockets, particularly the Alexander Valley, the fruit was sensational. This is a big wine for those who want something to chew on. Fine tannins will only enhance the meal.

Jason and Gary at Of Grape & Grain are looking at the store’s 37th (or is it 38th?) year of impressing the Thanksgiving après-ski wine crowd. Together they suggested these four favorites. But don’t be surprised if they trade out as the day goes along.

• Eleven unplugged 2011 Santa Ynez Valley $16

All steel fermentation is used by the Andrew Murray Winery in making the blend of blancs, Chenin and Sauvignon, so it is the fruit that will make its appearance at the table.

• Kung Fu Girl, Riesling $11.99

The wine that made Washington Riesling sippable and made winemaker Charles Smith rich. A perfect wine for before dinner when the crowd comes a callin’.

• Alakai Joel Gott 2011 $18

This red GSM+ blend (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre with a splash of Carignane) is the proverbial basket of fruit in a glass. Named after Sarah Gott’s dog, the Alakai is a fun wine and a bargain bottle.

• Neyers 2011 Zinfandel Vista Lune Borden Ranch $26

While most folks say “Pinot” when talking turkey, I say Zinfandel. Especially great big fruity Zinfandel from the Sirra Foothills. The Neyers are wonderful folks who make great wines. This is no exception.

Down by the Post Office, Bill Reilly at Aspen Wine & Spirits didn’t need much coaxing to share his wine picks. Like the others, he will likely spend the day on the slopes before returning to his happy staff mid-afternoon to sell some wine before dinner and, of course, watch football

• AtoZ Pinot Gris 2012 $16.99

Like Roger, Bill likes the alphabet-inspired wines from Oregon; only he selected the Pinot Gris rather that Pinot Noir. Lighter instyle unoaked, crisp and not too bitey (acidic).

• Joel Gott Chardonnay 2012 $16.99

Staying pure, another unoaked version, but aged sur-lies (a process where the wine rests on the “lees,” or residual yeast, to add complexity) for a creamy finish on the tongue and in the mouth.

• Maysara Pinot Noir “Asha”$44.99

“This is what I’m drinking on Thanksgiving,” Bill said. “A beautiful organic wine from 100% pommard Clones, like liquid velvet, smooth…”

• Stelzner Claret 19.99

From a classic Stags Leap District property (now home to Odette, which was featured in this column recently) this blend of Cab, Merlot, Cab Franc and Petite Verdot is a complex wine for a not-so-complex meal. Multilayerd and smooth.

Thirsty yet? I am. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving and be sure to toast the ones you love.

Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be-designated appellation of Old Snowmass with his wife, Linda, and a black Lab named Vino. He can be reached at