Pinot Noir at Thanksgiving Makes Me Happy

Last week, I showed you my love for Pinot Noir and what to look for.  Thanksgiving is next week (the time is flying by) and it’s one of the wines that I always focus on showcasing.  Yes, I do love Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (Ok I like all wines) but I think they are too big for a typical Thanksgiving meal.  Let’s remember that a perfect pairing is when you taste the food, and you taste the wine, and both elevate or get better.  That’s what makes wine pairing fun.

I can’t wait to show you the two wines that I’ve focused on for this week as suggestions.  These are going to come as a big surprise to you.  Before I get into that, thanks everyone for the great feedback on Lambrusco.  Yes, you can have this wine at Thanksgiving as well.  I would just be careful with the sweetness level of the wine.  Something too sweet will not pair well with the meat you are serving.  However, with candied yams, casseroles, etc. it will work as the acidity will be refreshing.  To be honest, I normally have a glass of this during the day while I’m cooking on Thanksgiving 😊

Loudenotte  Pinot Noir 2022

In order to be trendy (OK – Cheap), I’ve been shopping at Trader Joe’s recently diving deeper into their wine selection.  If you have never done it, you may want to go and take a look.  They do have some great deals on some of the wines.  I’m not sure why but this one kind of jumped out at me so I decided to pick up a bottle. 

Over the years, I always have my favorites and that’s what I tend to stick to.  However, life is about growing and trying new things.  Hence let’s dive into this one to see what it’s like.

Brian- is it Good?

I love this question.  It’s simple and powerful.  When I used to work in the wine shops, I’d make a few suggestions for customers, and they would always ask “ Is it good?”  I really wanted to tell them that no, not really but I have to sell the 10 cases of this in the back. 

My first comment is always this:

  • If I don’t like it, why would I sell it to you? That will just make you mad, along with never coming back to get a suggestion from me along with no repeat business.

I always want to do right by my customers (who I call friends).  Why do I call them this?  I gave a talk last week to a group about dining room service and told them that conversations WITH people is the best aspect of life.  I want to pick out something for you that will pair with food, at your price point so you are happy.  Then you come back, and we have another conversation.  That to me is the essence of life and exceptionally fun and fantastic.

Yes, I’m getting to the review.  This wine is great.  Not because of the price but because it’s really good.  Pinot Noir, like I said in last week’s article, is about unripe fruit with earthy tones, low tannins, some acidity and lighter on your palate.  I want to drink a glass of this and chill and not feel full.  Heavier red wines are stronger and filling.  I’m saving room for the 4th plate at Thanksgiving. 

This wine showed all of that and was easy to drink.


  • Unripe strawberry, red plums with great tones of mushrooms and dried meat.
  • It had notes of toasted oak, cinnamon and cloves, dried thyme and just that small, pleasant amount of mustiness.
  • Now this one had a bit of green bell pepper to it at the end. This normally indicates that the grapes were picked a bit underripe.  However, in this case, it was not overpowering and a very nice touch as it will help to pair with foods.


  • Dominating the blend is unripe red cherry, strawberry and cranberries that gave it the impression of a hint of sourness.
  • This was followed by some oak, white pepper, and nutmeg. The mushroom was still there tied in with the dried meat and touch of raisins.
  • Overall, I liked the flavor combination as it was unique to a wine that shows green bell pepper in the aroma. Normally, if I smell this, the flavors would not be as developed.

Sweetness – It’s between dry and off dry.  It has enough residual sugar to counter the sour tones in the flavors.

Acidity – It presents great acidity between medium and medium plus.

Tannins – The grape tannins in this are medium with some oak tannin in the mix to balance.

Mouthfeel – This had a smooth texture, almost silky and light.

Body – This wine did show some structure with a medium weight to it.

My opinion – I plan to pick up another bottle of this next week from Trader Joe’s and I suggest you do the same.  I paid $6.99 for this.  The wine itself is great but the price is a winner.

Benton Lane Willamette Valley 2021

I found this one recently on my travels and danced a bit in the store.  Yes, I dance when I see a good bottle for one reason:

  • It reminds me of when I consumed it the last time, who I was with and the fun we had.

This wine is one of my benchmarks for the area.  Why?  This is a winery that does it right.  I’ve been to the winery and had many of their selections over the years.  I cannot tell you how many bottles from them I’ve recommended as it always is a winner.  If you look up reviews, it always gets a minimum score of 89 points.

Brian- is it Good?

Well………????   I have to be delicate when I say this but there was something wrong with the bottle.  There had to be something wrong with it, but I cannot figure it out.  Here’s the scenario.

I opened the bottle and checked the cork.  Cork was great, intact, wet on the bottom and showing no seepage up the side.  Awesome.  I poured a sample into my Riedel Pinot Noir glass and the color was a bit washed out (thin looking) but still had the black cherry Kool Aid appearance to it.  That’s fine.  I gave it my first sniff before swirling it to capture its first notes and:

  • Nothing.  As in, it had no aroma at all.  None.

I let it warm up for a few seconds and gave it a swirl.  Same thing.  Not one aroma (like water).  I saw a bit of sheeting in the glass (which is an indicator of maybe soap residue).  OK, that could mess it up, so I went and picked out another glass.  Same thing.  I picked out two more different glasses and finally on the last one, some aroma started to appear.

Anyone that knows me knows I’m meticulous with my glassware.  Almost to the point of being over the top.  The reason why?  I failed my Sommelier tasting practical since two glasses out of 23 were not clean.  I either handwash or use my Bosch dishwasher that I bought specifically for glassware.  For four glasses of different types to be dirty never happens.

And before you start to write, I poured the wine into the glass that Loudenotte was in (after dumping it) and was the same thing.  Practically no aroma.  In almost 15 years, this has never happened. Therefore, I’m going to give you my notes because if you really focused, you could evaluate the wine.


  • Unripe strawberry and deep red plum were the main notes.
  • This was followed by some oak, violets, mushrooms, and a hint of musty books.
  • As mentioned above, these aromas were faint in the multiple glasses


  • As this started to open up, it showed unripe red cherry, red currants, cranberries, strawberries, and black plums with a deep tone of cremini mushrooms.
  • It also showed some toasted oak, raisins, nutmeg, violets, and dried meats
  • However, it appears a bit watered down or washed out.

Sweetness – It’s between dry and off dry. 

Acidity – it shows a medium plus acid that rinses your palate clean.

Tannins – both the grape tannins and oak tannins are balanced at medium – levels.

Mouthfeel – Its soft on the palate but hard to detect anything else.

Body – This is medium in body so it should stand up when paired.

My opinionI Want to love this wine as I have in the past.  Yes, I need to give it another sampling but there is no more available where I purchased it.  I will look around for another bottle to give you a follow-up review.  My suggestion is:

  • If you can find it, I’d try it and I honestly believe you will love it. 

Again, it’s a benchmark Pinot Noir that always shows well.  It’s priced between $25 and 30 but do not let that throw your opinion either way.  I know this is a great bottle from a great producer.

Final Thoughts

I’m disappointed that I could not bring you two perfect reviews but welcome to the life of a Sommelier.  Somedays, the bottles just are not perfect.  However, the best part about wine is the learning.  BTW, I was travelling last week and picked up a bottle of Bread and Butter 2022 Pinot Noir.  That was a fantastic bottle that was full of life and paired well with Carbonara and Mushrooms.  There are so many options out there, you can’t go wrong.

I hope that you try Pinot Noir.  Get with a sales rep and get them to pick one out for Thanksgiving to enjoy.

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