November’s Shamrock Selections

Shamrock Selections is a monthly subscription service that brings you the best wines from around the world. Each month’s selection is carefully chosen by sommelier Keegan Sparks and his team. He keeps a keen eye out for wines that are unique, rare, and new to our market. Shamrock Selections is ideal for enthusiasts and explorers who delight in finding hidden gems and trying new, exclusive vintages. Each month, you can join us on a journey of sampling and learning about some of the greatest wines in the world. Each selection of wine comes with detailed tasting notes and food pairing suggestions from our team.


 

What did you do for Thanksgiving last year? And what about the year before that? What about Thanksgiving ten years ago? A lot can happen in a year’s time, but ten years? That’s enough time for almost everything to change.
When you drink this month’s wine, I want you to think about time. You don’t have to ponder the mysteries of the universe, but I would like you to think about where you’ve been and how you’ve changed over the lives of these wines.

Sometimes, especially as someone who works with wine on a daily basis, it can be so easy to forget that these bottles are time capsules that show us not only how the land or the grape can change, but also when we drink how we’ve changed.

That’s become one of my favorite things about old wine, not so much the wine itself but my relationship to it. What was I doing when it was made? How much has the world outside the bottle changed since the cork was closed? Asking these questions doesn’t tell us anything new about the wine, per se, but I think it can reveal a lot about the person drinking it.

It’s my hope that you’ll share these wines with your loved ones this holiday season, and that they’ll at least spark a conversation, and just maybe a little bit more.

2007 Domaine de la Voûte des Crozes Côte-de-Brouilly

A lot can happen in ten years. Certainly, I’ve changed a lot from the 19-year-old college sophomore I was in 2007, and so has the wine. Made in 2007, this Beaujolais has been resting in its bottle, just waiting for you to pull the cork.

It was made by Nicole Chanrion who began making wine in 1970, a time when a female winemaker was all but unheard of in France. She took over her family’s estate in 1988 and works the 16-acre property by herself each year.

Nichole has garnered the nickname “La Patronne de la Côte,” or the “Boss of the Cote,” referring to the appellation in which she plays so prominent a role. The Côte-de-Brouilly appellation sits on the hillsides of Mont Brouilly, a prehistoric volcano that left blue schist stones and volcanic rock along its slopes. These stones yield structured wines with pronounced minerality and great aging potential. After her formal training at the viticultural school in Beaune, Nicole had a brief internship in the Napa Valley which allowed her to gain a deeper appreciation of the traditional winemaking techniques of Beaujolais: hand harvesting, whole cluster fermentation, aging the wines in large oak foudres for at least nine months and bottling unfiltered. The resulting wines are powerful, with loads of pure fruit character and floral aromas.

I can only imagine what this wine would have tasted like in its youth*: a supple tannin, coarse acidity, ripe flavors of raspberry and plum. In its present state, the first thing you’ll notice is its rich, garnet color and surprising clarity. In the sun, it looks like a liquid gemstone. A majority of the overt fruitiness has been worn away by time, but what is left – an air of dried strawberry, raspberry, and even cranberry – is balanced by a surprising note of black pepper on the finish. The acidity is still lively, a key to what’s allowed this wine to age so well. I’ll admit that this was my first time trying aged Beaujolais and I was surprised and very happy with the result.

It’s our hope that you’ll open this with your loved one this holiday season, either as part of a meal or even on its own. While the wine pairings here are endless, the only one that matters is that you drink it with someone you care about.

2015 The Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Gris

It’s no secret that Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times of the year for grocery stores and the same is true for wine shops as well. As it turns out, people drink a lot over the holiday and everyone wants to know what will pair best with the turkey and dressing (or stuffing if you’re into that). And while we all have our own takes on what pairs best, the thing they all have in common is a strong backbone of acidity that can cut through the heavy, high-fat foods that we all love so much. It’s that naturally high acidity that makes pinot gris a workhorse wine during the holidays, and this one from Oregon is no different.

The Eyrie Vineyards began on a rented plot of land on the outskirts of Corvallis in February of 1965. Founder Davis Lett planted three grape varietals: Pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot gris. These were the first ever chardonnay and pinot noir vines ever planted in Oregon and the first ever pinot gris plantings in North America. Eventually, David would relocate his winery further north in the heart of the Dundee Hills just south of Portland where his reputation as an Oregon wine pioneer continued to grow. He took the name of his winery, “The Eyrie,” from a pair of hawks that began to nest on the edge of his first vineyard.

2015 was the warmest vintage in Oregon since record-keeping began. This lead to a very early bloom and higher than average grape yields. This picture perfect vintage resulted in a wine that is full of sparkly acidity and a full and fruity palate. There’s a wealth of green and yellow fruit notes here: Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples, bruised pears, and persimmon. There’s also a healthy dose of minerality and an almost fennel-like herbal note that I love.
Made from grapes grown in a certified organic vineyard, the wine was aged on its lees for an astonishing eleven months, almost triple the length of aging most pinot gris receives. The result is a lovely roundness of texture in the mouth, not so much a creaminess like one finds in chardonnay, but a fullness, as if the wine were exerting itself to be as lush as possible.

This is the perfect wine for the Thanksgiving table, pairing well with turkey, cranberry sauce, and the inevitable (and delicious) Friday afternoon turkey sandwiches. Give it a slight chill, but avoid the ice bucket – this is a wine that shows best at just below room temperature.

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