Is it November already? Hard to believe another holiday season is already (almost) upon us, though the calendar, the sun’s position in the sky, and those unnervingly personalized internet pop-up ads are all by now playing The Most Wonderful Time of The Year’s entrance music. But as we prepare to once again squeeze a year’s worth of activity into less than two months of dwindling daylight, feel free to cross “picking out the wine” off the list of things to fret you’ll  forget to remember. Finding the right bottles is the easiest and most pleasurable of holiday responsibilities, and Thanksgiving, in particular, is the best occasion for making your oenophilia seem reasonable, useful even. Though some of the traditional elements of the meal are quite specific (turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce aren’t on a lot of menus the rest of the year), there are so many different possible preparations that the pairing options are almost endless. It is difficult to make a bad wine choice for Thanksgiving, and a thoughtful one is a relatively simple, uncontroversial and ingratiating way to contribute to the gathering. Our selections this month are both Italian -  a Schiava from the Alps and a Greco di Tufo from the South -  meaning they are pretty much purpose built to inhance and with-stand long meals with multiple courses and moods. They will complement a wide array of plates, fish, fowl, vegetable or Tofurky - and they are great additions to any holiday table, so feel free to save them for December if you’d like. Happy Thanksgiving and Bon Appetit! 

Starting at top: the Trentino-Alto Adige wine region, sits just below the Austrian border and is home to what is often referred to as “the most beautiful mountains in the world”, the snow-capped Dolomites, a collection of breath-taking peaks composed largely of porphyry rock walls. Also known also as Südtirol, due to its bicultural Italian-Austrian heritage, Trentino-Alto Adige, is an eclectic mix of Austrian accuracy and Italian spirit. Trento refers to the southern part of the region, and its capital is Trentino (the ancient Roman Tridentum), while Alto Adige identifies the northern territory that includes the higher (alto) part of the Adige River. The topography of the region’s winegrowing area is like a complex puzzle. Vineyards are planted with different exposures and varying elevations, have changing microclimates, and are composed of some of the most varied soil types ranging from volcanic porphyry, to weathered primitive rock soils composed of quartz and mica, to limestone and dolomite, to sandy marl. Much of the winemaking here is done via communes, and this month we are featuring a bottling from the youngest, Cascina Valle Isarco, which is located in the valley that runs alongside the river of the same name. Schiava, which means “slave” in Italian,  is the primary red grape in the area, and has many other names: it is also called  Vernatsch (which is a Tyrolean word derived from vernacular, meaning native or indigenous)  and also Trollilnger (which is a corruption of 'Tyrolinger,' meaning 'from the Tyrol’.) Light, fresh and aromatic, Schiava is characterized by notes of red berry, almond, violets and a delicate earth and minerality.  Very versatile with food, its piquant fruit and softly spicy finish will even enliven your leftovers. 

Nine hundred kilometers to the south lies Campania, the ‘shin' of Italy's boot, anchored by its capital, Naples. Its name comes from Campania felix, a Latin phrase roughly meaning 'happy land’ or ‘fertile countryside', and the region is indeed celebrated for its gastronomy, music and architecture. It is also ancient enough to  encompass some of the world’s most famous ruins at Pompeii, Herculaneum, Paestum, and Veli. The wine culture is one of Italy’s oldest as well; Campania has many indigenous grapes almost unknown elsewhere, and our white selection this month is one such varietal, Greco di Tufo. It is grown in Irpinia, the most renowned wine-producing area in the region, which is the historical name of the province of Avellino. The best versions, like Guido Marsella’s evince great orchard fruit and white flowers notes with a hint of smoke and mineral backbone. It spends an unusually long time aging on the lees and in bottle before release, which gives it the weight and texture to support, but not overwhelm, pretty much anything on your plate this holiday. 


The PlumpJack Wine and Spirits Team 

Guido Marsella Greco di Tufo 

Region / Country of Origin: Campania, Italy 

About the winery: Guido Marsella founded the winery that bears his name in 1995, after a previous career in his family’s construction in the Campania area. His initial intent was to produce truly world class white wines from the local Fiano grape. Today Guido is considered one of the pioneers of the rediscovery and development of the Fiano grape, and has expanded his operations to elevate the quality of other local varietals.  In 2007, he began working a parcel of land called Poggi Reali, located near Beneventano in the Greco di Tufo DOCG. The vines there are 20-30 years old, grown over Tuffa Clay and planted in high density at 500 meters above sea level.  He produces Falanghina and Greco di Tufo bottlings from this vineyard. 

About the winemaking:   All farming is done with organic practices, both on his estate owned vineyards and those that he farms just north east of his estate in the Greco di Tufo DOCG. Harvesting typically takes place a bit later here than at many other estates in the region, because Guido prefers the fruit to be at the peak of ripeness and in some cases borderline overripe. All harvests are carried out by hand to ensure only high quality fruit is being brought back to the winery. All of Guido’s wines are fermented and aged entirely in stainless steel containers, with some fine lees contact. The wine spends 12 months in tank before being bottled and then aged a further year in bottle at the winery before release.

Tasting Notes: Yellow apple and white flower on nose, with a great smoke-wreathed saline minerality. Richly textured and wonderful depth of flavor.

Winemaker: Guido Marsella 

Price: $27 btl/$291.60 case

Suggested Food Pairing: 

Green beans and tomatoes, Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

Cantina Valle Isarco Schiava Alto Adige DOC 2020

Region / Country of Origin: Valle Isarco, Alto Adige, Italy 

About the Winery: The youngest winery of note in Alto Adige, Cantina Valle Isarco was founded in 1961 at Maso Reinthaler. Unfortunately the initial winery burnt down in 1962 and was then replaced by a new modern winery in 1975. The 135 members benefit from altitudes ranging from 300m – 1000m, excellent soils and climate for producing expressive wines with wonderful individual varietal character. For the most part, as a result of the steep slopes on which the vineyards lie, picking is almost entirely done by hand. 

About the winemaking:  Grown on very deep alluvial soils with porphyritic sediment. Traditional maceration on the skins in controlled temperature conditions, malolactic fermentation and aging on fine lees in stainless steel vat. 

Tasting Notes: Aromas of red berries with notes of almonds, herbs and violets are followed by flavors of raspberry, strawberry and cherry, leading to a refreshing bitter almond – and sometimes slightly spicy – finish. 

Winemaker: Hannes Munter

Price: $22 bottle / $237.60 case

Suggested Food Pairing: 

Turkey, cranberry sauce, carrots and green beans, but also shrimp, tofu and spicy Asian cuisine. 

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