Thanksgiving Wines for Less Than $20

Kyle MacLachlan is an actor by trade. He was the star of "Dune," "Blue Velvet," and "The Doors." He also has quite a television resume on shows, such as "Twin Peaks," "Sex and the City," and most recently, "Desperate Housewives."

Since he was in college, he has been a die-hard wine enthusiast and, a few years ago, with business partner Eric Dunham, he founded Pursued by Bear Wine in Washington State. MacLachlan was born in Yakima, Wash., and he and a small number of other vintners are leading the charge of making the Pacific Northwest the new Napa Valley. MacLachlan appeared on "The Early Show" with five different wines and one sparkling wine that he says are perfect matches for Thanksgiving dinner, which are all less than $20.

When, exactly, did MacLachlan first get passionate about wines?

"Passion for wines came from college. I didn't like beer, and I had to drink something," he said. "David Lynch was actually my first wine mentor, and wine mentors really help when you want to educate yourself. We had a wine exchange. David and I used to exchange wines every birthday. We have been doing that for years."

In fact, after his screen test for "Dune," he got his first bottle from Lynch.

"It was waiting in my hotel room waiting for me," he said.

Another mentor for MacLachlan was Ann Colgan, of Colgan Cellars.

"She was responsible for making me believe that I could make wine. And it was my friendship with Eric Dunham that led to making my own wine," he said. "So with the right people, my spark of interest really grew into a fire."

MacLachlan said any wine he could get his hands on was of interest to him. On weekends when he was living in Los Angeles, he said he would drive to Napa try everything he could.

So how did the actor go from this love of wines, to making his own?

MacLachlan said he got connected with Durham and began trying different combinations of wines and vintages. Then they started making their own. MacLachlan's company, Pursued by a Bear, makes 12 barrels a year.

"I don't worry too much about it as a profession. It's only about 280 cases. Eric (MacLachlan's partner) makes thousands of cases. It's amazing what he does. "

As for the name "Pursued by a Bear," MacLachlan said it originates with Shakespeare. In fact, it's a stage direction: "man exits, pursued by a bear."

"That always stuck with me as one of the odder stage directions," he said. "I tried it out, it sounded good, it has stuck."

MacLachlan was one of the first people who encouraged winemaking in the Pacific Northwest. But how did he know it would be good for making wines?

MacLachlan, a native of Washington State, said what's great about the state is that "there are two distinct climates, a marine climate and an Eastern side, which is dry and terrific for farmland."

"In the East you can control your water, which works well for grapes," he said. "(My partner) has been doing it for 15 years. And even Oregon has started getting in on the game. It's a great time for Pacific Northwest wines."

Wines seen on "The Early Show":

LaMarca Prosecco, Italy - $15.99

"The Early Show" gave MacLachlan a price cap of $20. He chose an Italian version of champagne, Prosecco, and he thought Italian was appropriate as well due to the fact that it was an Italian that first explored it. A delicate, well-balanced Prosecco, showing a good blend of baked apple, sour lemon and grapefruit, with a lightly creamy mineral texture on the palate. Medium froth, with some body and a pleasant lemon and mineral finish. According to MacLachlan, it's the best Prosecco out there at the moment. Drink now. It's nice because it is both fruity and dry.

Four Legged White, Dunham Cellars, Wash. - $16

This wine is made by MacLachlan's business partner, Eric Dunham. The price, MacLachlan said, is really reasonable, and it's a beautiful combination of riesling and chardonnay. It has great fruity characteristics with a mineral taste. It is rich and it cuts through heavy foods, working very well for Thanksgiving. It shows crisp, ripe green apple, lemon meringue and hints of coconut on the nose. A wonderfully rich yet refreshing mouth with apples, pineapple and pear notes with mango riding along. Left with a little bit of residual sugar, this wine makes a perfect complement to foods with spice.

Viridian Pinot Noir, Ore. - $16

MacLachlan loves this wine, partially because it is such a terrific value. Viridian Pinot noir is a deep, rich ruby color that makes it almost impossible to see through the glass. It exhibits an intense aroma of dark cherries and pomegranates that develop into a strong depth of flavor. It lingers on the tongue and finishes with a hint of spice in the background.

Cloudline Pinot Noir, Ore. - $20

Pinot Noir works very well for Thanksgiving, MacLachlan said, due to its hints of berries, which go well with cranberry sauce, turkey, you name it. This one has a lighter taste, with hints of blueberry. Forbes Magazine named this one of the 25 Great American Pinot noirs and said: "A wonderfully valued Pinot that knocks the socks off most California versions at twice the price, thanks to its fine balance of bright red-berry flavors and strong, soft tannins. It's fresh and lively now, but give it another six months and some of its sharper angles will have rounded out nicely."

Rosenblum Zinfandel, Calif. - $11

The only California wine on the list. MacLachlan really wanted to showcase the wines from the Pacific Northwest, but every wine list needs a California right? It's got a spicy zesty flavor, which will work well with turkey for the big day. The Baltimore Sun writes, "This full-bodied zinfandel with generous flavors of blackberry, plums, black pepper, chocolate and blueberry is one incredible value. For a humble red blend, rather than an expensive single-vineyard wine, this shows a great deal of complexity."

Three Legged Red, Dunham Cellers, Wash. - $19

MacLachlan likes this wine because it is acidic, but still bright and balanced. This is a great wine to go with foods. From the Wine Spectator magazine: "Open, generous style has a layer of floral flavors around the generous plum and berry fruit, all mingling nicely with toasty notes on the round finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Drink now through 2005."

One more wine of note, though it costs more than $20: Pursued by Bear
Cabarnet Sauvignon, produced by Kyle MacLachlan and his partner Eric Dunham in Washington State. It received a 91 point rating from Wine Spectator, and retails for $65.
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