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Bird Up!

Nelms Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 WA State
$20.99/$16.80 by the case
Here's a "best buy" on a rock-solid Washington Cabernet made by one of the legends. Rick Small started Woodward Canyon way back in 1981 and has been making some of Washington's best Cab ever since. Nelms Road has been a Woody second label since 1998; the same winemaking team uses younger vine fruit and declassified juice from the premium bottlings to create a delicious approachable wine, ready to drink tonight. No big surprise considering the quality of the vintage, this 2012 is really good. Dark and juicy with a rollicking mouthfeel, it's rich and full-flavored but its lively cut and complexity keep the flavors bouncing about the palate. Black currant, berry and plum roll along with shades of toasty oak, cocoa and a graphite-tinged earthiness leading to gentle tannins on the finish. Normally $25, it's a good time to take advantage of this holiday deal.

Walter Scott Pinot Noir La Combe Verte Willamette Valley 2013
$22.99/$18.40 by the case
With so much focus on the excellent 2012 vintage it is easy to overlook the early 2013 releases but this is one not to miss. Ken's wines sell out quickly thanks to small production, high quality and a loyal following; Ken always wants his wines, especially the basic Pinot and Chardonnay, to over-deliver quality for the price and he certainly achieved that here. This drinks more like a single vineyard wine, complex and layered and here's why: much of it is declassified single vineyard wine. All of Clos des Oiseaux is in here as well as portions of Freedom Hill, Beezy and Dumb Ox. The result is a smorgasbord of flavors and textures that shift as it opens. Tight at first, ten minutes of air reveals a distinct blackberry profile with clove and peppery spice hanging on its broad round frame. More time in the glass brings out deep red cherry fruit with a perfumed intensity bordering on kirsch, while notes of tobacco leaf and underbrush linger in the background. Fresh yet powerful with lots of flavor embedded in its sinewy frame, this has a raspy excitability that kept me reaching for glass after glass.

Domaine Paul Autard Côtes du Rhône 2012
$13.50/$10.80 by the case
One of my favorite Thanksgiving wines is Châteauneuf du Pape; its savory herbes de Provence notes and robust smoky red fruit flavors go great with roasted Turkey and the typical array of autumnal dishes. That said, popping for a choice Châteauneuf is not always a reasonable option. Enter this old favorite; made by a highly regarded Châteauneuf winery, this boasts a muscularity and intensity that belies its modest price. With violets and roses on the nose, the fruit runs red on the palate from deep raspberry to big cherry while subtle notes of licorice, pepper and oregano weave in and out. The dense layers of fruit and wet earth beefiness on the finish show this to be a nicely serious wine; give it some air and watch the flavors expand.

Syncline Subduction Red Columbia Valley 2012
$19.99/$15.99 by the case
We tasted this again recently and boy is it drinking nicely. Although we sang its praises before, it seemed to us a very Thanksgiving wine: the bounty of the local harvest, a small family winery and packed with the flavors we love at Thanksgiving. Rare for a northwest blend, the dominant varietal here is Mourvèdre and it's exciting to taste how this burly red expresses itself transplanted to the Columbia Valley. Opening with bass-note aromatics of dark plum and dusty peppery spice, the fruit is saturated and inky dark, the texture creamy and layered. Sweet snappy marionberry and blackberry pie notes alternate with a cured salumi meatiness while dried fruits and exotic spices ride out the muscular finish.

Hexamer Riesling Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg "Quartzit" 2011
$18.99/$15.20 by the case
Riesling isn't mandatory in November but 'tis the season and we've tasted some really good ones lately. This one really jumped out. Really as in the aromatics jumped from the glass and simply screamed Riesling. Blessed with an irresistible combination of explosive aromatics, sappy succulent fruit and a dry incisive finish, this had us all nodding in agreement: delicious! Hexamer is a young producer in Germany's Nahe region; many of his wines are dominated by red slate soils but this bottling comes from a parcel of the vineyard that is almost pure quartzite which gives this a striking minerally cut. A citrusy blast of lime and grapefruit upfront turns to ripe pear and fleshy peach on the palate and then bam! the electric acidity kicks in bringing a rush of stony floral notes and hints of red fruits that echo on the finish. A wine in three parts that's so refreshing and fascinating, it was hard to stop at one glass.

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