The 12 Wines of Christmas

20 Dec

I thought I would offer some new finds for this holiday season.  All are reasonably priced and can be found at most supermarkets and wine shops in the area.  You couldn’t go wrong serving or bringing any of these wines to a holiday meal or party.

Mandolin 2009 Pinot Noir – The grapes for this wine were sourced from vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County, California.  The high winds, dry days and bay fogs create a cool and very long growing season; making an ideal climate for Pinot Noir grapes.  This longer growing season yields full flavor wines with great acid balance.  Mandolin Pinot Noir is rich and full flavored with a hint of spice.

Mandolin 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon – The grapes for this fruit forward Cabernet were sourced from vineyards in the California Central Coast region.  The first fermentation was in stainless steel which allowed for the full cherry and currant flavors to develop.  It then spent its next 14 months in French Oak which allowed for soft tannins to integrate into the wine resulting in a great balanced wine.

Cupcake Vineyards 2010 Shiraz – Winemaker Adam Richardson traveled to Barossa in Southern Australia to carefully select the grapes for this rich and spicy Barossa Shiraz.  He comments that, “it is reminiscent of a chocolate mocha and blackberry cupcake.”  Aged in oak, this smooth creamy and subtly tannic wine would pair very well with a spice encrusted holiday rib roast. 

Cupcake Vineyards 2011 Sauvignon Blanc – This decadent and flavorful Marlborough New Zealand white demonstrates why the Sauvignon Blanc grape is so renowned.  After a cool first fermentation in stainless steel, the wine undergoes an extended sur lies maturation process.  This process gives the wine an added freshness and creaminess improving its color and clarity.  In other words, it softens what otherwise would be a very tart citrusy wine.  Pair it with any seafood dish you might be serving.

Cupcake Vineyards NV Prosecco D.O.C. – This Prosecco is made from 100% Italian Glera grapes, the official grape of Prosecco.  Prosecco has become very popular in the past couple years.  I think in part because it has a much finer and softer effervescence than Champagne.  Nor does it have the yeasty aftertaste of Champagne.  Prosecco is produced using the Charmat method, which unlike Champagne, means the secondary fermentation takes place in steel tanks rather than the bottle.  This gives the wine that softer creamy finish.  I recommend serving it well chilled with appetizers or desert.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 – This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes sourced from California’s Central Coast including small amounts of Syrah, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc.  This artful blend has produced a smooth textured and slightly sweet Cabernet that can stand up against many of California’s finest Cabernet Sauvignons.  To soften the tannins and develop its complex flavor the wine was kept on the skins twelve extra days and then spent 12 months in American and French oak which added a subtle toasty note.  Enjoy this with wine with roast duck or goose or after dinner with hard cheeses.  A great value!

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir 2010 – This is a fruit forward Pinot Noir that is probably the most versatile when it comes to food this holiday season.  If you like red wine and are not sure what to serve with ham or turkey, this Pinot Noir is ideal; classic berry and spicy aromas with a silky texture and finish.  Given the price, a lot of wine making expertise and effort went into this wine.  Remember my motto; a wine doesn’t have to be expensive to be great.

Ravens Wood 2009 Vintners Blend Petite Sirah – If you like full bodied and concentrated fruit flavored wine, then you’ve found your holiday pick.  Of all the wines reviewed, this is probably the only one that could be aged for drinking later, so save a bottle for next year.  I would pair it up with ribs, hearty soup or chili.  A great wine to serve a Super Bowl party.

Ravens Wood 2009 Vintners Blend Zinfandel – This is my pick for pasta this season; enjoyed it with rigatoni in a marinara sauce with sweet Italian sausage.   A robust flavorful red wine and a bowl of red sauce pasta; now that’s comfort food!

Biltmore Reserve Viognier 2010 – This North Carolina wine is the surprise of the year! That’s right, North Carolina, the Biltmore Estate Vineyards.  Nice mouth feel, hint of honey, strawberry and lime and a tiny touch of acidity.  I served it with Chinese food and Sushi; paired perfectly.  It is a little more expensive but still under $20 and worth every penny. Biltmore Reserve Viognier 2010 is on my gift wish list.

Biltmore Estate Blanc de Blancs – Brut – Here is the new standard for New Year’s Eve bubbly.   Produced using 100% Russian River Valley Chardonnay grapes by the Methode Champenoise. The grapes were harvested at a high acidity and fermented at a low temperature.  The secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle for a full 18 to 24 months.  This lengthy process results in a refreshing and balanced sparkling wine with tiny bubbles and floral, lemony, apricot taste.  If you are serving seafood for New Year’s Eve, this would be my recommendation.

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