30 Second Wine Advisor: Thanksgiving and good wine books

Black Friday Means Red for YOU!

For every holiday gift you send today, The California Wine Club will send you a $35 bottle of Gamble Family Vineyards 2009 Napa Valley "Heritage Sites" Red Wine. Aged 5 years, this big red is drinking beautifully now.
Use Coupon Code BLACK14 when ordering to secure your bottle(s) of this delicious wine.
Hurry! Offer expires at 11:59 p.m. PST, Nov. 29, 2014.
Minimum 2-month gift purchase required to qualify for gift bottle. Offer cannot be combined with any other promotion or discount nor applied to previously placed orders.
Click to See Holiday Gifts

Thanksgiving and good wine books

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day, and we spent a lovely day with friends, taking in two festive dinners. Wine was on the table at both events (you'll find some Pinot notes below). Still, even as a longtime wine lover who writes about the stuff, I enjoyed paying more attention to friends, community and holiday spirit than geeking out over fermented grape juice. Who's with me on this?

Now it's Black Friday, and I'm staying home. The mall rush is not my style, although if you're out there and having a good time, enjoy yourself! I'm all in for Small Business Saturday, though. And I can't deny that I'm a fan of shopping online.

With the holiday season coming up, I'd like to recommend a few standard wine reference books that I admire and can wholeheartedly recommend as gifts, year in and year out. Even in an age when digital media might make books on paper seem a bit old-fashioned, these are books that I feel good about taking from the shelf, opening, and enjoying the sensory pleasures of a real book, with a real glass of wine alongside.

(If you use any of these links to click and buy any of the books or posters, we'll earn a tiny commission that helps us pay the bills for WineLoversPage.com and The 30 Second Wine Advisor, and for that I'm truly thankful.)

World Atlas of WineThe World Atlas of Wine, by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, is a must-have resource if the geography of wine, knowing the land and the vineyard, is as important to you as it is to me. This oversize book contains beautiful photos, maps that show you the shape of the land and the vineyards, all illuminated by Johnson's and Robinson's clear prose.
Click here to buy it now from Amazon.com for $36.77, 33 percent off the $55 retail price.

Oxford Companion to WineThe Oxford Companion to Wine, 3rd Edition, by Jancis Robinson. Robinson, with Johnson, ranks as perhaps my favorite wine writer over all the years I've been putting down words about this favorite beverage. This massive one-volume encyclopedia, her magnum opus, is something like Google-on-paper for wine information alone, but with no bad links, only lucky hits on every wine-related subject you can imagine. Great for learning, great for browsing; it can be yours as easily as clicking this link to buy it now for $40.90, 37 percent off the $65 list price.

Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book 2015Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book 2015. You've viewed two big books. Now here is Johnson again, with a mini- encyclopedia so chock-full of information that you won't believe it all fits in a pocket. It's only a little larger than my iPhone 6+! Hugh has been updating this volume every year since the 1970s, and it just keeps getting better and better. Click to buy it now from Amazon.com for $13.09, 23% off the $16.99 list price.
It's also available in a Kindle edition for $8.99. Click here to buy it now.

Wine Grape Varietal Table I've been recommending my friends Steve and Deborah De Long's Wine Grape Varietal Table for years. One of the most innovative wine-enthusiast notions I've seen yet, it mimics the familiar periodic table of the elements to categorize a world of wine grape varieties. A wine reference disguised as a fine-art print," it's a great gift for a wine-loving friend - or yourself - and makes a fun wall display for cellar or study or tasting room.

The De Longs also produce stunning, quality poster-size wine maps of France, Italy and other regions for $14.95 to $29.95. Click here to view and order any of the De Long wine maps.

Today's Sponsor

Black Friday Means Red for YOU!

California Wine ClubFor every holiday gift you send today, The California Wine Club will send you a $35 bottle of Gamble Family Vineyards 2009 Napa Valley "Heritage Sites" Red Wine. Aged 5 years, this big red is drinking beautifully now.
Use Coupon Code BLACK14 when ordering to secure your bottle(s) of this delicious wine.
Hurry! Offer expires at 11:59 p.m. PST, Nov. 29, 2014.

This holiday season, share the passion of artisan wineries and give delicious deliveries of award-winning, handcrafted wine. It's a holiday wine club gift that can't be found in local stores. Every wine is hand-selected from a real, working artisan winery.
Minimum 2-month gift purchase required to qualify for gift bottle. Offer cannot be combined with any other promotion or discount nor applied to previously placed orders.
Click to See Holiday Gifts

About The California Wine Club
There are thousands of small family wineries handcrafting extraordinary wine in quantities too limited to be found in local stores or shops. In 1990 wine club founders Bruce and Pam Boring discovered that these winemaking families were the most passionate in the wine world and that their wines were the hidden gems of wine country! Together Bruce and Pam embarked on a journey to help these artisan wineries introduce their exquisite wines to the world. Learn more!
www.cawineclub.com 1-800-777-4443

Today's Tasting Reports

Gérard Bertrand 2012 "Reserve Speciale" Pinot Noir Pays d'Oc ($13.99)

Gerard Bertrand

Clear, dark ruby, almost inky at the core, transparent purple at the edge. Delicious cherry-berry aroma, pure fruit but not over the top. Dry red fruit comes through on the palate, laced up with subtle whiffs of warm spice, food-friendly acidity, and a distinct but palatable edge of astringent tannins. First-rate food wine; its 13% alcohol is ideal for table use or even sipping as an aperitif. U.S.importer: USA Wine West LLC, Sausalito, Calif. (Nov. 22, 2014)

FOOD MATCH: Pinot Noir's versatility makes it a match with a wide range of fare, from rare beef to Thanksgiving turkey. It's also a natural match with mushrooms. It went beautifully for us with a deeply flavored mushroom risotto made with brown crimini mushrooms and reconstituted dried porcinis.

WHEN TO DRINK: It will certainly hold up for a year or two, but it might be wiser to enjoy it over the next year or so while its fresh, simple fruit is so delicious, rather than waiting out the acceptable astringency in hope of a less certain future. Nah. Drink up and enjoy. And buy the next and following vintages.

VALUE: Wine-Searcher.com reports a $13 U.S. average retail price, with retailers reporting a range from $10.99 to $15.94. It's really a good buy anywhere in the lower to middle teens.

The tiny QR code on the back of the bottle will lead you to this informative page about the winery and its wines.

I picked up this wine at the Whole Foods Wine Shop. You can also check prices and find vendors for Gerard Bertrand Pinot Noir on Wine-Searcher.com.

Oyster Bay 2012 Marlborough Pinot Noir ($14.99)

Oyster Bay

Garnet with a clear edge. Good Pinot aromas, red berry and "tomato skin." Bright, fresh fruit flavor shaped by zippy acidity and soft but perceptible tannins. A moderate 13% alcohol level makes it a natural at the dinner table, where it enhances the dining experience without overwhelming the fare. Like most New Zealand wines, it's packaged with a sturdy modern screw cap to keep it fresh. U.S. importer: Oyster Bay Wines USA Inc, NYC. (Nov. 27, 2014)

FOOD MATCH: Did I mention that Pinot Noir is versatile with food? I can hardly imagine a better choice with Thanksgiving or any traditional winter holiday banquet. The Oyster Bay worked and played well with everything on a lavish Thanksgiving buffet table, from light and dark turkey meat to dressing, vegetable dishes, a curry, even an old-school green bean casserole.

WHEN TO DRINK: Fresh and clean, fruity and straightforward, this will keep well under its screw cap, but I wouldn't cellar it or expect it to evolve. Drink up and enjoy!

VALUE: My local $15 retail price is in line with Wine-Searcher.com's reported $16 average retail. Dozens of venues offer it around $15, so it may be worth shopping online if your local shops can't match this price.

This page on the winery website sets up a collection of 53 reviews of Oyster Bay Pinot Noir for you to browse.

Locate vendors and check prices for Oyster Bay Marlborough Pinot Noir on Wine-Searcher.com. My bottle came from the local Whole Foods Wine Shop.

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