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THANKSGIVING: THE MAIN EVENT | WINES OF THE WEEK

What pairs perfectly with this menu? Not one bottle but a trio

November 19, 2003|S. Irene Virbila | Times Staff Writer

The typical Thanksgiving meal encompasses such a range of tastes -- from sweet to tart, from rich to bland -- that finding a wine, just one wine, to go with all of it is like asking a singer to cover three octaves. Our menu concentrates things at the vividly spicy end of the scale. To match it, we've picked Italy's top sparkling wine to ring in the celebration, and, for the feast itself, a delicious Cortese from Piedmont and sterling Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Bellavista NV Franciacorta Cuvee Brut

The package itself is impressive enough, but this elegant, very dry sparkler from Bellavista in Franciacorta, northern Italy's premiere sparkling-wine region, isn't just getting by on its good looks. This methode Champenoise cuvee is a blend of more than 30 selections of Chardonnay with 10% Pinot Bianco and Pinot Nero. The scent is tangerine zest and a touch of vanilla. The taste is lively and fresh, and the mousse of fine bubbles lingers in the glass. Break open a bottle to toast turkey day, or, if you lay in enough, you could conceivably drink this Bellavista brut all through the meal.

Price: About $25

Where you find it: Du Vin in West Hollywood, (310) 855-1161; Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, (949) 650-8463; Wine Exchange in Orange, (714) 974-1454, (800) 76WINEX; Wine Expo in Santa Monica (310) 828-4428; the Wine House in Los Angeles, (310) 479-3731.

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2002 Icardi L'Aurora Cortese

Turkey can be matched with a white wine, and this menu needs one that's full-bodied yet lean. A Chardonnay would be overwhelmed, but this beauty from Piedmont can hold its own. Bone-dry and minerally, it's a Cortese from Icardi with a lilt of citrus and grass that plays well with the bird and spicy cornmeal and andouille stuffing. It drinks well with hard cheeses too. I even like it with mortadella and cured meats. And it's one of the few whites that can stand up to a Caesar salad.

Price: About $10

Where you find it: Fine wine shops and retailers

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2001 Patrick Lesec Chateauneuf-du-Pape Marquis

This was a great year in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and negociant Patrick Lesec has managed to make a stunning Chateauneuf Marquis that not only has plenty of character and finesse, but is a relative bargain. Deep in color, ripe and full-bodied, it tastes like red plums and blackberries, with something wild and fierce that keeps you coming back to the glass, intrigued. A Chateauneuf like this is beautiful with game, so it shouldn't have any trouble taking on our spice-laden Thanksgiving turkey and fixings.

Price: About $26

Where you find it: Red Carpet in Glendale, (818) 247-5544; Vintage Wines Limited in San Diego, (858) 549-2112; the Wine Club in Santa Ana, (714) 835-6485; Wine Exchange in Orange, (714) 974-1454; (800) 76WINEX.

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