Thanksgiving pinots from Firesteed, Castle Rock, Mark West, Domaine Drouhin

Posted: November 20, 2011

Keep the fancy cult wines in your cellar for Thanksgiving because - honestly - the relatives (God bless 'em) rarely even care. You want mass appeal at fair prices on Big Thursday, but also (since you care) wines that speak to a feast of broad and divergent flavors. So this year, I'm mostly going with a pinot gallery from the West Coast. A pinot gris from Oregon's Firesteed (richer than "grigio," but still dry in the Alsatian style) is my fun alternative to ubiquitous chardonnay. But for my red, pinot noir is as safe as a bet can be, and there are some stellar values - Castle Rock's Central Coast is soft, fruity, and consistently balanced, while the slightly more expensive Mark West California has some earthiness and food-friendly edges. If you can't resist going big, Domaine Drouhin's 2007 Laurène shows what Oregon pinot can be. Meanwhile, Drouhin's Arthur is the kind of Euro-style chardonnay that will please wine enthusiasts and casual sippers alike.

- Craig LaBan

Firesteed Pinot Gris 2009 (code 3244), $14.99; Castle Rock Central Coast Pinot Noir 2008 (code 32252), $7.99; Mark West California Pinot Noir (code 7725), $12.99; Domaine Drouhin Laurène Pinot Noir 2007 (code 15097), $39.99; Domaine Drouhin Arthur Chardonnay 2009, (code 32352), $19.99.

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