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Wine of the Week

A Thanksgiving Red from Oregon

Thanksgiving is only a week away—do you know what wine you are going to serve? Do you even know what color wine you’re going to serve, white or red?

In fact, this second question is the easy one, because the answer is: It doesn’t matter. Either will do. Turkey is white meat, but it is so rich it works well with red wine, too. If you prefer white, last week’s column had a wonderful suggestion, so this week I am taking a look at the red wine options.

Turkey is not steak or venison, so you want to steer clear of big assertive reds, like, say, Australian Shiraz. No, something with plenty of depth but a bit more refinement than offered by those bruisers. So I’m thinking Pinot Noir, that exemplar of subtle power and polished elegance. Perfect for the turkey.

Burgundy, the spiritual home of Pinot Noir, is tricky. Besides, it requires time to age and is eye-wateringly expensive these days, so I have chosen as this week’s Wine of the (Thanksgiving) Week the Siduri Pinot Noir 2009 ($30) from Oregon.

Siduri make Pinots from purchased grapes up and down California as well as Oregon, but its aim is to make each of these wines reflect the region from which they come. As Adam Lee, who, along with his wife Dianna, are both Siduri’s winemakers and proprietors, explained to me: “That’s our goal. It’s to try and make something not Californian or Burgundian, it’s to make Oregon Pinot that we believe tastes like very good Oregon Pinot.”

The secret of good Oregon Pinot—in fact, of all good Pinot—is a cool climate and the freshness it brings to the wine. As if to reinforce the cool-climate character of their wines, Lee tells me that “all the fruit we get comes from the far northern end of the Willamette Valley, from the Chehalem Mountains [American Viticultural Area], the coolest AVA in the Valley, and we’ve chosen that deliberately, because it tends to have a liveliness to it, more of a red-fruit character.”

This is what gives the Siduri Pinot its wonderfully light, rose-petal freshness. Do not be fooled, however, by its pretty pale hue—the wine’s vibrant intensity and rich red-fruit quality will work brilliantly with the holiday bird.

To find this wine near you try Wine Searcher.


When to Drink: Now and for the next 5 years

Breathing/Decanting: An hour’s breathing is essential

Food Pairing: Turkey; as well as pork and hard cheeses

Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir

Appellation: Chehalem Mountains

Region: Oregon

Country: USA

Price: $29

Availability: Moderate


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Nick Passmore is an independent wine writer and consultant based in New York. For five years he contributed a widely read monthly wine column to, in addition to which his work has appeared in such publications as Forbes, Discover, Town & Country, the Robb Report, Wine Enthusiast, Saveur, Sky, and Golf Connoisseur. He is currently artisanal editor for Four Seasons magazine and contributes a twice monthly column to He is also a judge at the annual Critics’ Challenge wine competition.

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