By Robert Patla, Sommelier at The Samling

The challenge of matching the immensity of the occasion is as daunting as the task of considering the complexity of all the flavours of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. America’s most famous celebratory meal deserves an equally rich and succulent wine to complement the variety of flavors in this traditional feast.

Considering ceremony, significance, and flavor, I have whittled the choice down to Altura, from Vina Casa Silva, one of the greatest names and most respected reputations in the world of wine.

Now run by the three Silva brothers, their unwavering pursuit of perfection is backed by dedicated research informing innovation in their winemaking – with spectacular results. Particularly in their development and treatment of the Chilean Carménère grape.

Carménère is a grape which originated in the Bordeaux region of France. When vines were first exported, and for many years after, Carménère was thought to be Merlot due to its very similar appearance and ripening times. It was only painstaking research, with Casa Silva at the forefront, which separated the two varieties, and in 1998 Chile officially recognized Carménère as a distinct grape varietal. Subsequently, it has become the talismanic grape for both Chile and the Silva family. Altura is therefore the signature wine of the Silva family, proudly displaying all of the knowledge, quality and passion the family have amassed over five generations of winemaking.

Altura is created from the very best grapes of the estate. Three varieties are used. Around 50% of the blend is Carmenere, 35% is Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% is Petit Verdot. The wines are fermented separately, the family then decide on the precise blending “assemblage”. The wine is aged for 14 months in new French oak barrels and subsequently for four years in bottle before release. There is only a limited production of this magnificent wine but it is well worth searching out for its rich, intense power, with ripe flavorsome fruits. If one word sums up this superb wine I would say “harmonious”, both for itself and its ability to work with all the components of your Thanksgiving meal.

For maximum enjoyment please consider decanting the wine an hour or two before consuming.

Pumpkin Pie - a rich, sweet, creamy end to the classic Thanksgiving meal. And a wine challenge of significant enormity!

However, on this wine selection I have chosen something which will complement your pie and even, dare I say, become the star of the show.

Ice Wine, Vidal from Inniskillin on the Niagara Peninsula in Canada is sublime in conjunction with the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in the pie; taking both the pie and the wine to an intricately nuanced level of taste and enjoyment.

Vidal is a grape with a thick skin. This is necessary to withstand the freezing temperatures at which the grapes must be harvested to qualify for the title “Ice Wine”, a method of wine making from Roman Times.

Picked under the light of the full moon the frozen berries contain the perfect combination of sugars and natural acidity. Immediately transported to the winery, and pressed before the grapes thaw, only a few drops of concentrated syrupy juice can be extracted from each bunch. The resulting wine is sensational. Think texture not just sweetness. Tropical fruits such as mango and orange with more nuanced hints of peach and nectarine finished with a glorious lick of crisp, lively acidity.

Personally however, I might pass on the pumpkin pie to make room for another glass of Ice Wine! Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

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