With that statement from a friendly customer a few days ago I knew it was here. As it quickly approaches the holiday season is once again sneaking up on us. From dead of summer to Halloween POW! it’s time for; Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day and New Years Eve just to name a few.
Recently I was asked to act as Interim Store Director for our Winn Dixie liquor store; thus begins my first holiday season in retail. Fortunately sales of wine and spirits are through the roof with daily sales increases in the high double and even triple digits compared to last year. Thank you wine buyers!
With the holidays upon us and family parties to help plan and take part in I have given a lot of thought to what wines to bring, gift, recommend and most importantly partake of. Luckily 2012 has exposed me to many good wines, most of them affordable and easily accessible. So upon much review I hereby offer what I hope will be a list of good value very drinkable wines that I have discovered throughout the year. Wines meant to be shared with family and friends. My official: 2012 Whine and Cheers for Wine Holiday List. For additional information on each just click on the links provided below.
Old Vine Zinfandel– After many tastings this year of this varietal, and I might add not really a stinker in the bunch, I ended up with an almost tie between Project Paso and Four Vines. The winner, FourVines which I have now had about three times in the last month. For the value it cannot be beat. Usually priced in the $12.00 range it can be found on sale now for $7-10.00.
Pinot Noir– Again it came down to two: Chile’s The Show and California’s Concannon. The winner is the Concannon 2010 Selected Vineyards Pinot Noir. Price range: $8-12.00.
Red Blend– I lucked out with blends this year and the two that automatically come to mind would be; Argentina’s Amado Sur [$11-13.00] by Trivento and the Dream Tree Crush by rocker Dave Matthews and Steve Reeder [$15-18.00]. If you are looking for a bolder taste I’d choose the Malbec, Bonarda, Syrah blended Amado Sur. For smooth and light I’d suggest the Dream Tree Crush.
Côtes-du-Rhône- LES HALOS DE JUPITER 2009. A mostly Grenache Rhone that yes even goes excellently with corned beef. Price range; under $15.00.
White Bordeaux/Sauvignon Blanc- Chateau Montet at $8.99 vs. Chateau Tour de Bonnet Blanc $14.99. Both very good wines and values. That said if I were having a holiday party serving a large group; my “go to” wine would be the Chateau Montet. Everyone will be pleased.
Champagne/Sparkling Wine– One choice automatically jumps to the forefront: Champagne De Magerie A Bouzy Grand Cru [$35-40.00]. At this price, for me at least, it is not an everyday wine but a great special occasion choice. Domaine Ste. Michelle [$15.00] has been our house sparkler for years but since I am writing about 2012 discoveries Piper Sonoma Sparkling Brut at $12.99 gets my vote.
Riesling- Chateau Ste. Michelle out of Washington State can do no wrong by me with their many worthy wines. Their Riesling and Sweet Harvest Riesling [$10.00] are affordable, dependable good wines. An easy choice. A new discovery for me this year was the Dr Loosen “Dr. L” Riesling. At $11.99 also delicious and dependable.
Merlot Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards from Washington State’s Columbia Valley is my clear winner. Their 2007 vintage was so memorable that 8 months later I am still thinking about it. Priced in the $18-22.00 range it is worthy of the investment.
Malbec- For me all roads lead to Argentina’s LAMADRID. From their baseline Malbec [$10.00] to the RESERVE [$18.00] to their GRAN RESERVE [$28-35.00], which I recently finally tried after sitting on the bottle for 2 years, all are worthy. Beautiful wines of which I wholeheartedly approve for vintages; 2008, 2009, 2010.
Chardonnay– Over the summer I discovered a delicious Chardonnay; Hess Select from California’s Monterey region [$8-15.00]. More recently we have enjoyed Sonoma County’s Sebastiani [$8-12.00]. Both are rich and very well-balanced. For a non-California style Chardonnay [i.e. little or no wood] I suggest Fat Bastard [$7-12.00] out of France. Sourced from all over the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Those accustomed to oaky California Chardonnay’s may think they are drinking a completely different varietal. It is smooth yet dry.
Cabernet Sauvignon- This category for me turned out to be the most varied in pricing. We lucked out; great Cab’s ranging from $10.00 to over $50.00. In the lower priced range Cycles Gladiator was a great find. One that our store now easily goes through a case a week. In the mid-$20.00 range Sonoma’s Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve was a wonderful treat, also one I’d like to revisit. And at the higher end of the spectrum the delicious and exciting Stag’s Leap Artemis comes to mind; complex, full-bodied and powerful.
Sauternes- To complete our holiday meal or any special occasion I always think of Sauternes, although you can also enjoy this sweet french wine at the start of your evening as an apéritif. Our 2012 discovery was the 2008 Chateau Doisy-Védrines. Not inexpensive at $30.00 for a 375ml [half] bottle, but it is always worthy of a special occasion shared with worthy family and friends.
Here we are at the end of our first ever 2012 Whine and Cheers for Wine Holiday List. As 2012 starts to wind down I’d like to take this opportunity to be thankful. Very thankful to all my supporters and followers, some that I have had the honor of communicating with and getting to know throughout the year. All your visits and comments have meant the world to me. Thanks to all of you, 2012 will always be my year of Whine and Cheers for Wine!
- Thanksgiving Wine: Top Picks from Sommeliers (drinks.seriouseats.com)
- How to Pick the Perfect Bottle of Wine for Thanksgiving (brit.co)