The Wine Evangelist’s 2017 Holi-Wine Guide
The holi-daze are here but I have recommendations that will make wine shopping for get-togethers and parties easier... and even a little educational! In true WINEDERLUST fashion I sought out wines representing a variety of regions, varietals, and styles. But I also ensured these finds are readily available at local retailers.
“Brut-Comté” Cremant du Jura (about $17 a bottle)
Cremant is a delicious Champagne-alternative to bring to gatherings or enjoy at home. Made in the traditional method, this bubbly has all the minerality and toasty aromas of a true Champagne but is easy on the wallet! Slightly creamy in texture and dry with notes of green apple, drink this as an aperitif, with appetizers, or alongside your holiday meal. You will love this 100% Chardonnay, food-friendly sparkler from the Jura region in eastern France.
Gruet Méthode Champenoise Brut Rosé (about $18 a bottle)
Another wonderful traditional-method bubbly hails from New Mexico where surprisingly ideal terroir for Pinot Noir results in a dry, full-bodied, and easily pairable sparkling rosé. The famed Gilbert Gruet’s Champagne house from Bethon, France has created a domestic crowd-pleaser with red fruit aromas and flavors. Gift these bubbles or drink it with hors d’oeuvres, a first courses, or shellfish entrée.
Ametzoi Getarioko Txakolina (about $18 a bottle)
Hardly pronounceable but delightfully drinkable, this lightly effervescent wine from Spain’s Basque region and made from the Hondarrabi Zuri grape flirts with your palate and charms you into sipping more. Pronounced “chock-o-leena,” this refreshing wine with green apple notes is ideal with seafood or tapas. Its zesty spritz results from residual carbon dioxide in the bottle—a signature characteristic of this region.
Luli Chardonnay (about $19)
Drink this Chardonnay all holiday! And why not? It’s not overly-oaked, dripping in butter, or too steely. From cooler vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands, this well-balanced wine aims for what California Chardonnay should be--freshly aromatic, dry, full-textured, and with minerality on the palate. No extreme oak use here, making it a perfect accompaniment to an array of cheeses, light entrees, and poultry.
Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Blanc (about $26)
The northern Rhone is mostly known for its reds, but this white from Marsanne grape vineyards surrounding the iconic Hermitage hill, is crisp, refreshing, and a terrific partner with appetizers, roasted vegetables, and poultry. A beautiful, full-textured wine with white blossoms on the nose and ripe stone fruits on the palate, its brilliant color will remind you of festive, golden fireworks. Joy to the Rhone!
Abbazia di Novacella Kerner (about $17)
The story behind this wine should be enough to convince you to drink it—it’s named after hippie German doctor Justinius Kerner who prescribed wine for his patients. But throw in its white peach character, bright acidity, and opulent texture, and you’ll be cured by its qualities regardless of etymology. A specialty from Italy’s northernmost region called the Alto Adige, pair it with pork, veal, roasted chicken, or swordfish. How’s that for merry medicine?
Lioco Indica Rosé (about $18)
Your lovely pink companion continues to deliver this season especially with this bone dry, lively wine from Mendocino County reminiscent of more typical, Provencale-style rosés. Aromas of watermelon and ginger smoothly transition to flavors of wild strawberry and rhubarb. Made from old-vine Carignan grapes, drink this wine chilled with all your savory courses at your Thanksgiving or holiday feast!
Eyrie Rosé of Pinot Noir (about $23)
Leave it to the pioneers of Oregon wine to take a new spin on traditional rosé winemaking. Most rosés only see steel, but this treasure from the most historic winery in the Willamette Valley was fermented in neutral oak and aged 6 months in a barrel. Elegant, refreshing, and savory, consider this more of a light Pinot Noir than a mere pink wine to compliment roasted vegetables, turkey, and pork tenderloin. Oregon is known for its wine rebels--let’s celebrate this rosé revolution!
Cambria Benchbreak Pinot Noir (about $20)
Did someone say (Pinot) party? As the most food-friendly of wines, Pinot Noir is always a safe bet for the holiday feast circuit. Medium-bodied, light and fresh on the palate, this Pinot stays true to its varietal characteristics but has plenty of red fruit, dark berry, and savory flavors to demonstrate the Santa Maria Valley vineyards from which it’s made. Pair this pretty Pinot with your turkey, roasted pork, and sides.
Antinori Peppoli Chianti Classico (about $24)
Chianti has made a comeback in rather substantial fashion, so display your Sangiovese savvy and bring this to your next gathering. Light-bodied yet aromatic with cherries, currants, and signature violet notes, this Chianti Classico is a solid representation of the central Italian region at a great price. Smoky with light tannins from oak aging, enjoy this wine with tomato-based entrees, roasted lamb, and rib-eye steaks.
Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz (about $21)
Que shiraz, shiraz! Australia’s Barossa Valley is home to some of the oldest shiraz-producing vines in the world. This wine, however, comes from more youthful vineyards in the region but displays many of its legacy characteristics for a holiday-friendly price point. Flamboyantly full-bodied, velvety, and well-balanced, it presents with black fruit and spice notes. Enjoy it with blue cheese, roasted meats, and grilled steaks. Also consider gifting this shiraz, also known as syrah, as it has a good deal of aging potential.
Stags’ Leap Winery Petit Sirah (about $33)
From the famed—but ususally pricey—Napa Valley comes this standout Petit Sirah that also makes a sensational gift. While the Stags Leap district is more known for its remarkable Cabernets, its Petit Sirahs are equally exceptional. This version exemplifies the core of dark berries, lavender, and spice for which the varietal is known. Unbelievably velvety and refreshing with restrained tannins, its oak aging compliments the natural spice character of the wine. This is no “petit” Petit Sirah. Drink this wine with your meat entrees now or challenge yourself to age it for holidays to come.
Did you find this holi-wine guide helpful? Have any wine wisdom you’d like to share with me? I may be the Wine Evangelist, but I’m just as happy receiving the good word of wine as I am preaching about it. Contact me and let’s chat about it!