One of the hallmarks of Thanksgiving dinners is the coming together of family and friends. As you consider what wines to serve with the meal, you can continue the theme by serving chardonnay and pinot noir.
The two grapes long have been thought to be related, what with growing in the same region (Burgundy) for centuries and having vines with almost identical leaves. Conclusive evidence of familial connection never was established, but now, DNA fingerprinting suggests pinot noir (with gouais blanc) is chardonnay’s parent.
Consider sharing the following wine families with your family this Thanksgiving.
Cambria. Based in the Santa Maria Valley, this chardonnay and pinot moir specialist makes fruitful, appealing wines sustainably farmed and estate grown. Named after the founding Jackson family’s daughters: 2015 Chardonnay Katherine’s Vineyard ($22) and 2015 Pinot Noir Julia’s Vineyard ($25).
Cuvaison. Established in the Napa Valley in 1969, Cuvaison was an early adopter of the Carneros region. The cooling effects of San Pablo Bay and sustainable farming practices produce estate-bottled wines of vibrant, balanced character: 2016 Pinot Noir ($42) and 2016 Chardonnay ($26).
Davis Bynum. A pioneer of chardonnay and pinot noir in the Russian River Valley (with claim to the area’s first single-vineyard pinot noir in 1973), which is now acclaimed for those varieties: 2016 Pinot Noir Jane’s Vineyard ($35) and 2015 Chardonnay River West Vineyard ($25).
Dutton Ranch. The Dutton family has grown grapes in the Russian River Valley since 1964. Today, sons Joe and Steve also co-own their own wineries. Joe and Tracy Dutton established Dutton Estate in 1994. Their Sister’s Collection blends Dutton Ranch fruit from several estate vineyards: 2015 Pinot Noir Karmen Isabella ($46) and 2015 Chardonnay Kyndall’s Reserve ($42). Steve and Theresa Dutton founded Dutton-Goldfield winery in 1998 with winemaker Dan Goldfield. Their wines are distinguished by lively fruit and luscious textures: 2016 Pinot Noir ($44) and 2015 Chardonnay ($38).
Frank Family. Based in the historic (1884) Larkmead winery since 1992, Frank Family now produces more than a dozen lively, richly textured wines, such as the 2016 Pinot Noir Carneros ($38) and 2016 Chardonnay Carneros ($35).
La Crema. Another chardonnay and pinot noir specialist from the Jackson family, this time producing wines from multiple appellations. The Monterey (2016 Pinot Noir, $23, and 2016 Chardonnay, $20) and Sonoma Coast (2016 Pinot Noir, $25, and 2016 Chardonnay, $23) wines are especially good values. The Russian River Valley wines (2015 Pinot Noir, $40, and 2016 Chardonnay, $30) are stars.
Ladera. Midwesterners who traded ranching for vineyards in Napa later added the Pillow Road Vineyard in the Russian River Valley to produce vibrant, velvety pinot noirs and chardonnays (2015 vintage, $50).
Scheid. From one of Monterey’s largest growers and cool-climate, certified sustainable, estate vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands: 2016 Pinot Noir Doctor’s Vineyard ($75) and 2016 Chardonnay Escolle Vineyard ($45).
Sea Slopes. From Fort Ross Winery, the flavorful 2016 Pinot Noir ($35) and 2016 Chardonnay ($30) are excellent values intended as more approachable and elegant expressions of Sonoma Coast fruit than their Fort Ross tier.
Sea Smoke. This winery’s organic and biodynamic estate vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills are known for complex, full-bodied yet elegant wines: 2015 Pinot Noir Southing ($60), 2015 Pinot Noir Ten ($82) and 2015 Chardonnay ($60).