Thanksgiving Pairing: Donavon Frankenreiter + Malbec

This past week I went to see one of my favorite little hippie acoustic guitar players, Donavon Frankenreiter.  A Hawaiian native born to surf, play guitar and woo the ladies, has always been one of my favorite ‘kick back’ musicians.  It’s truly no wonder that he’s at the top of my playlist, as one of his best pals, Jack Johnson, was the first to give Donavon his first shot in the biz when he started Brushfire Productions.

While his music is not for everyone, you really do have to admit that if you’re a chick and into sweet, yet dark and romantic tunes that start and begin with some of the best ‘chilled out’ strings of an acoustic guitar, that he’s the one for you when you lay listening under his spell.  Similar as to having some of the same background as Jack, pro-surfer, lover of life, his wife, kids and the beach – Donavon produces some great ‘baby makin’ music!

And so, when the opp came up for me to see him this past week at the Varsity Theater in DinkyTown, I couldn’t resist.  A girlfriend of mine and I geared up and set out for a mellow eve of Donavon’s sounds.  As the crowd meandered in, I suddenly felt like the oldest fan there.  Girls half my age singing to the tunes off of Donavon’s most recent album, GLOW, yet I couldn’t wait to hear some of the songs from his first album, self titled ‘Donavon’.  Songs like ‘It don’t matter’, ‘Free’ and ‘Call me Papa’ were some of favs when I first started listening from my home in Durango, Co.  (At the time, a bit of a crazy lil’ hippie, myself.)  All of which were played and songs that are truly meant to set your soul free!

Because I am constantly thinking about feeling my music, food and drink – I couldn’t resist asking my concert pal, Bu, what she’d drink with this concert – knowing that the conversation would turn into a WINE and DONAVON Blog for the Crush Pad later in the week.  Without hesitation she said “Malbec”.  “Interesting,” I said.  “Why Malbec?”  She went on to tell me that it was smooth, a bit rough around the edges but just ‘you know’ drinkable.  I laughed, but then agreed with her decision to a tee.  So here it is, Malbec.  The perfect pairing to Donavon Frankenreiter’s smooovvvveee easy sounds, yet also turns out, is a PERFECT compliment to this week’s upcoming holiday dinner:  Thanksgiving.

Malbec, we should remember, is a grape born of France.  Known really as one of the original characters in Bordeaux, used to add color and tannin to the original blended Bordeaux concoction, the grape is now most known in France from its south west regions.  And just as every other grape on the planet was sent around the globe for planting, so was Malbec.  Now, it is most popularly known on most retail shelves from its region in Argentina.

Styles of Malbec can range from a blue fruited Oompa Loompa kool-aid style to a down right rustic dried cow patty style.  Just as one should consider when drinking ANY grape, the style of any one particular grape ranges in taste profile with consideration of the climate its grown.  IE:  A Malbec from Cahors, France – a much cooler climate – produces an almost tannic, tough, raw dirty juice while some Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina can be dark, juicy, jammy and chocolatey in length and alcohol.  Keep in mind that these are ‘blanket statements’, painting a very broad picture, each Malbec is stylistically its own from winery to winemaker, region to country.  And with all that said – MALBEC seems to pair, almost perfectly, to the slippery, chocolatey sounds of Mr. Frankenreiter to the raw, intense passion that comes from his routes like the Malbecs of France.  I love it.

And from music to your Thanksgiving Day Table – Malbec is a gorgeous grape for this year’s occasion. I wouldn’t necessarily pair it to a Roasted Turkey, but I would of it’s Grilled, Smoked or Deep Fried Versions.  Why?  Roasted notes love roasted notes.  IE:  Roasted birds can take on softer roasty wines – like a Sonoma Pinot or a soft, luxurious Napa Chard.  When you GRILL, SMOKE or DEEP FRY, you are picking up the dark, charred flavors of the turkey skin and meat.  Yes, the meat is still (for the most part) white, BUT the outstanding elements of your bird are really those dark, oompa loompa flavors that come from these other cooking methods.  Remember, it isn’t always the COLOR of your MEAT, yet the way that you prepare the dish that should dictate your wine pairing! (IE: Spices, cooking methods and sauces)  More on that in other blogs.

With that, here are a few that I’d recommend as you make your way to the retail shelf this week:

Diseno (Medoza, Argentina) – approx $15 on the shelf – blue fruited, silky and drinks like candy

Layer Cake Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina) – approx $14 – a very dark, rich style probably best as you head towards the end of your meal and into dessert, especially if you’re having chocolate

Bodega Catena Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina) – approx $17 – one with a bit more dirt, a very famous family known for its Argentinian Malbecs

Punto Final Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina) – approx $13 – has a bit of minerality, but a fairly nice drinker

Chateau de Cenac (Cahors, France) – - Dark with minerality, very dark fruit and really very well balanced

Enrique Foster Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina) – approx $28 – I really like this winery, well made dark berried Malbecs

Famiglia Meschini Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina) – approx $15 – our hometown pals, Eugenio & Teresa Meschini, make a great portfolio of Malbecs from Eugenion’s homeland of Argentina

Chateau la Reyne (Cahors, France) – approx $18- spicy, a little sultry with some red fruit that sneaks thru and really quite nice

Jules (Cahors, France) – approx $14- dark fruit with some spice, wet leaf and dirt to it,tannins are quite tight

If you can’t find them on the shelves of your particular bottle shop floor, ask your retailer how or where to find them in the Twin Cities.

Good Luck and Drink Well this Thanksgiving Season!

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