Count Alfonso Romero: “What time will the guest arrive?”
Butler: “Oh, well, no one arrives first, Sir. They all come in last.”
We were planning on having thirty guests for Thanksgiving, which I don’t know about you, but for us, it was a matter of logistics. We were planning on using the dining room, the living room, the breakfast nook and if need be, the library, after we stopped cooking with one of the roasters in there, we were also using a roaster in the family room, which could be commandeered for more seating, as we also had to make room for a dog cage in there as well, while some were watching the traditional Detroit Lions attempt to play football on Thanksgiving.
And so, it is. We told everyone to come between two and three for appetizers. Nothing fancy, we had several hard cheeses and a Baked Brie topped with Onion Jam for a savory finish. And some others added to the cheese selection, like a twelve-year-old Cheddar and a ten-year-old Gouda. We also started with a Liver Mousse with Truffles. I also told my Bride to start the cooking a little later, and it was still chaos. The majority showed up three hours later, and as far as I am concerned, it was in very poor taste and was disrespectful. We started out with a couple of white wines, and I always like to have something a little interesting. The safe white for the evening was Bonterra Vineyards Chardonnay California 2020, here is a wine where the fruit has been harvested from different regions in the state. Seventy percent of the juice is aged in a mix of French and American Oak and only fifteen percent is new, the other thirty is aged in Stainless Steel. When all that juice is blended together there is a delicious bottle of Chardonnay that shows some of the creaminess without hitting you over the head with it. The wine also delivers some crispness, and a touch of minerality and for the price, I think it is a great bargain, especially for crowds. The more daring and interesting wine I thought was the Cline Family Cellars “Seven Ranchlands” Viognier North Coast 2021. Cline Family Cellars is a producer based in Carneros and known for Zinfandel and Rhone varieties and established in 1982 in Oakley. Fred Cline is one of the original Rhone Rangers of California. The “Seven Ranchlands” is a way of honoring both the seven children of the Cline family, and the seven vineyard ranches. The fruit for this wine is from the Catapult Ranch Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap, and the balance is from the Diamond Pile Vineyard at the base of the Wild Cat Mountain. The grapes are handpicked at night, where they are destemmed and pressed, and allowed to settle for forty-eight hours before racking. The Catapult portion was inoculated with wild yeast, while the Diamond Pile portion was allowed to ferment naturally in barrels. After fermentation, the wine was aged in neutral French Oak for six months before blending and bottling. This was a very soft colored white wine with notes of mango, guava and pineapple. On the palate tones of dried apricots, pears and banana in a full-bodied wine with nice acidity and a nice finish.
For main dinner, we were making two turkeys, that is why we had two roasters set up in the house, because we could not a twenty plus pound turkey, so we had to settle for a couple of smaller ones. Also, one of our guests brought us an eighteen-pound Standing Rib Roast, or if you prefer Prime Rib. They made it easy for us, as their butcher had cradled it and tied it, and the night before they had applied a rub. We had the meat dishes covered, we also had Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic and Parmesan, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Balsamic, Armenian Pilaf, Stuffing (there has to be stuffing with Turkey), and Mashed Potatoes. I always knew that I had several interesting wines in the cellar, but I recently had a wine at my local wine shop, that I thought was a real winner, especially with the Standing Rib Roast and I could make it work with the turkey as well. We had Beaucanon Estate Cuvee Louis Cabernet Franc Napa Valley 2012. Beaucanon Estate is located on the historic Longwood Ranch, that originally was part of land that belonged to the founder of Sonoma. It became the Longwood Ranch around 1860, and it was sixty acres owned by a dairyman, in the 1970’s Chardonnay was planted there. It is now ninety-four acres planted with classic Bordeaux grapes with sustainable and organic farming practices. The first winery was built in 1987 and production was for thirty-thousand cases; seven years later that created a state-of-the-art facility to produce twelve-thousand cases. The de Coninck family started this winery in 1987, and the family is a nine-generation wine merchant from the Right Bank of Bordeaux going back to 1740. Louis de Coninck joined his father in Napa Valley after training in Saint Emilion. This wine undergoes fermentation and maceration in open barrel and concrete with skin contact for four to five weeks, followed by fourteen months in a mix of French and American Oak, with thirty percent new. A nice deep ruby/garnet wine with notes of red and black fruit, candied cherries and spice. On the palate black fruit dominates with some cocoa, the tannins were very smooth and elegant, with nice acidity and a finish of terroir. My Bride was very happy with the wine and food, but not with the behavior of the guests.