Somehow, despite my well documented interests and habits, the 21st of November arrived and we had no wine appropriate for Thanksgiving dinner. Last year, we nipped this problem in the bud by hosting a kegger. But we'd committed to bringing something red and something bubbly this time around. So at 6:00pm on the day before Thanksgiving, Axel and I headed down to Lakeshore Avenue with a $50.00 budget.
This didn't necessarily mean that I was phoning it in. On the north side of Lakeshore Avenue, across the street from Blockbuster Video sits the shoe-box sized Buckingham Wine and Spirits. You can drop by there now and pick up a bottle of Opus One or Silver Oak, something from Praeger Port Works, or a bottle of Rosenblum's Rockpile Road Zinfandel. Until recently you could even pick up a few bottles of Williams Selyem Pinot. Someone seems to have rescued those from the dusty shelves opposite the beer cooler.
Still, I figured I should check out the wine aisle of the new Trader Joe's. During a recent hotel stay in Santa Rosa I'd grabbed a bottle of England-Shaw Vineyard Syrah there, and it was good enough that when I spilled the little plastic cup of it that I was drinking on a hotel patio I nearly wept.
The Lake Shore Trader Joe's opened on October 26. On weekdays in the half hour before nine, you can see people queueing up outside the front door. I've dropped by a couple of times to pick up 3.00 goat cheese and it is almost always busy.
The night before Thanksgiving, no fewer then 10 people were milling in the wine aisle. Someone had managed to get the attention of the "wine guy". As soon as he spoke, every prospective wine buyer in the store took a step toward him. As we walked toward the exit I could hear him saying, "Spicy? This one is the least spicy. This one is spicier, and this one is really spicy."
At Buckingham, the guy behind the counter tried to get Axel to wave at him. I took a while to browse, before deciding on a 1999 Anzivino Gattinara and a non-vintage Beaumont des Crayères Champagne. You never really know how its going to go there. If the 8 year old bottle of some obscure nebbiolo is gonna pan out. I wasn't sure even after Googling. Most pages described the wine as dry and complex, garnet tending toward orange. It was great with turkey, and the lightest of three reds we had. Considerably more austere than the Ici/La Bas Les Reveles pinot.