Late autumn brings a moody beauty, as the evenings close in on our light. Cozying up to our holiday season, we might do well to pause, cherish the little moments of joy, and simply connect with good folk, good food, and certainly good wine. This year’s Thanksgiving lineup offers splendor in the glass, wines of grace and verve, with a selection of North Shore retailer picks from around the globe.
The backdrop of rolling hills in Amesbury reminds us, for a quick moment, of driving through France. Appropriately, RMA Craft Beer and Wine owner Aaron Cunningham selects a trio of honorary French wines. A double nod to Burgundy showcases a Cremant de Bourgogne, from one of the oldest cooperatives in that region. A sparkling blend of Aligoté, Pinot Noir, and Gamay is harmonious with stone fruit and white flower, a vibrant effervescence, and a hint of brioche. Marie-Pierre Manciat offers a lovely expression of unoaked Chardonnay from the Maçonnais. Medium-bodied, warm, and stone-fruit–forward, it’s aged in stainless steel, and has a soft yet persistent acidity. From Anjou in the Loire Valley, Cabernet Franc takes the lead, and Domaine de Clayou produces wines of quiet pedigree and depth, showcasing purity. It’s lovingly food friendly, with slight tannins, soft, plush red fruit, ample acidity.
RMA Craft Beer and Wine, Amesbury, rmacraftbeer.com;
At the cozy Common Crow Natural Market in Gloucester, wine buyer and co-owner Kate Noonan, with partner Pat Towler, offers a perfectly sized, rotating selection of wines. A fresh, Spanish Albariño from Fento Winery, not far from the ocean in Rías Baixas, is flinty and blessed with the scent of citrus and white peach, and with its coastal influence, a divine, salty minerality. Indigenous Greek varietal Xinomavro bears an uncanny resemblance to a young, earthy and perfumed Nebbiolo, with its forest floor, after-the-rain rusticity, and husky red fruit aromas. Winery Vaeni is located in Naoussa, and this is a wine lithe of color, dry with light tannins, and a hint of spice. As Portuguese wines are becoming more readily available and refined, Bergamota, from Gota Wines, is a lovely discovery, a red blend from the Dâo, fresh, with dark fruits and highly seductive aromatics of tangerines and violets, and a hint of Earl Grey tea.
The Common Crow Natural Market, Gloucester, commoncrow.com;
Pamplemousse of Salem sits nestled on a quaint and bustling brick-trellised side street. It owes its intimate selection of wines to manager Nate Townsend, who selects a classic German Riesling from Dr. Loosen in the Mosel. The “Ürzugwer Würzgarten” slope is one of the steepest, with soil rich in minerals from the dense, red slate soil. The result is a vibrant, fruit-driven Riesling, with nervy acidity, a match made in heaven. Folias de Baco’s Uivo Curtido Branco, from the Duoro in Portugal, is an unrefined and unfiltered orange wine made with Moscatel Galego. With its amber hue, due to extended skin contact during fermentation, expect the quixotic, and the scent of fresh-cut herbs, alongside a touch of tropical fruits. And on to Beaujolais, for where would we be without this chameleon jewel come November? One entry is from Jean Foillard in the eponymous region where Gamay grows brilliantly in granitic soil. Ferrous, aromatic, fruity, and taut.
Pamplemousse, Salem and Reading,pmousse.com;
John Miller, who owns with his wife, Samantha, Middleton’s warm and welcoming Vinum Wine Shop, “the boutique wineshop without boutique prices,” takes us to Cape Town, South Africa, with Babylonstoren’s charming Chenin Blanc from the Western Cape. Crisp, juicy, and with great acidity, this is a lively delight, with hints of apple, pear, and melon. Pinot Noir is a high contender at Vinum, as well an autumnal requisite, and as it’s a favorite of John’s, he suggests two from California. First up is Folly of the Beast, a medium-bodied, floral, and easy-drinking red, with notes of cedar and pink peppercorn. It takes its name from the great Moby Dick quote and hails from the Central Coast. Bloodroot’s Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is a lovely contrast, offering a bolder style, with restrained, taut fruit and a fragrant nose, thanks to the proximity of the Pacific Ocean, and great grip from structured tannins.
Vinum Wine Shop, Middleton, vinumwineshop.com