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Wine of the Week

A Perfect (and Cheap) Thanksgiving Red

To find a drinkable, not to mention enjoyable, white wine within spitting distance of $10—spitting, of course, being the highly competitive, preferably noncontact sport practiced by wine professionals—is cause for celebration. To find a red that fits these demanding criteria is a true rarity.

So welcome the Palo Alto Reserve 2008 ($12), this week's wine of the week, a delightfully pleasing red blend from Chile that will make the perfect accompaniment to the Thanksgiving turkey. It's classy enough to satisfy the most discerning wine snob, as long as you don't show him the price, and inexpensive enough so you don't feel you are wasting your Cru Classé Bordeaux on Uncle John after he's fortified himself for the upcoming ordeal with three martinis.

Now, I am generally pretty skeptical about Chilean wines, as most of them—though not all, as we see here—are either pretty awful rubbish or overpriced, overextracted cola wines. Just when my prejudices are getting comfortably locked into place, however, along comes a stunner like this to upset the whole grape cart.

What I like about the Palo Alto is that there's real fruit in the wine, along with a spicy earthiness, thanks to the syrah in the blend, with both being nicely balanced by the elegant haughtiness of the cab and the rounding femininity of the carmenère. It also has real grip, which makes it eminently food friendly, while possessing both the weight and the lightness of touch to pair perfectly with the turkey.

When to Drink: Now

Breathing/Decanting: 30 minutes breathing is essential

Food Pairing: Turkey, of course

Grapes: 55 percent cabernet sauvignon, 30 percent carmenère, 15 percent syrah.

Appellation: Maule Valley

Region: Maule Valley

Country: Chile

Price: $12

Availability: Good

Web Site:

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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