Oh the Holidays are here.  To most people this means a time of culinary delights, festive parties, and family.  Yea that all sounds fantastic. To me and people in all retail or service it is a time of crowded stores, long hours, little sleep and in general high blood pressure.  But, the constant fast pace, and in my case, all that great wine I get to recomend and really interesting people who are looking for the perfect treat to compliment the Holiday table, it can be alot of fun. (How was that for a looong run on sentence). 

So that brings me to the number one question I am asked, “What wine should I serve with…..?”.    Now mind you the vast majority of people already have an idea of what they want, they just want an affirmation.  But, when people do seriously have no idea what to serve the standard go to is Pinot Noir, Burgundy, or Riesling and because it is that time of year I must throw in Beaujolais Nouveau. These wines usually pair very well with turkey or ham and are usually easy drinking and will satisfy a majority.  There are those you can never please, and to those I say NEVER INVITE THEM BACK.  After all they are getting free wine.  

Just  a few basics for some of the most popular varietals.  

Pinot Noir

One of the lightest red wines.  It is usually fruity, strawberry, raspberry and light cherry with light tannins.  Burgundian styles are usually earthy, and fuller bodied.  Some can even develop that barnyardy style, but don’t let that fool you the flavor is fantastic.  

Some of the best areas are in Califofrnia, Carneros and RRV,  Oregon, the Willamette valley and in New Zealand.  And of course France, the Burgundy region.  

A  favorite from the Willamette Valley. 

Riesling

Often thought of as a sweet wine there are many great dry Rieslings.  German Rieslings come in 5 sweetness categories; Kabinett- dry to off dry, Spatlese- sweet, Auslese-sweeter, Beerenauslese- very sweet, and Trockenbeerenauslese- super sweet.  Alsace wines tend to be more dry to off dry.  In the states Rieslings are more to the off dry with the exception of course of the LHR the sweet dessert wines.  Washington State offers some of the best choices fro domestic wines, with New York state, and South Africa producing some very nice choices.  

Sweet Rieslings have a nutty, honey flavor.  A pepper or spice finish is common, and they are of course sweet.  Dry Rieslings are crisp, light and elegant.   They go great with turkey or ham and work well with vegetarian meals too. (Not that I would know, GIVE ME THE MEAT).  Below is one of my favorites, an off dry from Germany, Dr. Heideman’s. 

Beaujolais Nouveau is “The first wine of the harvest”. A Southern burgundy wine ( it was expelled from Northern Burgundy as an inferior grape).  Made from Gamay it is light and fruity.  It is not too sophisticated, but it can be quite good.  Gewurtztraminer is another favorite.  It is also dry, off dry and sweet.  Hailing from Germany, Austria, Alsace and from California and becoming more common around the world. It is very aromatic and tastes of honey and a spice finish.  

What it really comes down too is choosing what you like.  Enjoying your family and friends and giving thanks for all your blessings.  What ever wine you choose – count your blessings and be Thankful. 

Happy Thanksgiving 

  • Enjoy 

Altra cabernet hails from Atlas Peak, Napa.  It is the “child” of Margo Culcasi and Gerry Moffit, a fitting tribute to a long lasting friendship.  Gerry is the winemaker and is also associated with Kapcsandy, Blankiet and Grace Family.  These wines are of course some of the premier wines of California. So my expectations were high going into this.

Whoa, the nose just about rips through your soul.  The smell of freshly pressed fruit erupts through the air making the nostrils quiver.

Once you pour the juice into your mouth, the rich depth and complexity overloads the senses.  The mouth is watering uncontrollably.  So much is going on.  The taste of cherry, casis, chocolate with hints of wood (cedar) all explode in the mouth.  You would expect big bold tannins that make you pucker.  Instead you have these soft, lovely elegant tannins  that are just beautiful to the mouth.  And, all of these flavors very gradually recede…over like a month.  This is been one of life’s most pleasant experiences.

Enjoy

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Every  now and then you come across something that really blow your mind.  The wines of the Barton family are such.  Leoville- Barton a second-growth and it’s sister, Langoa-Barton a third growth are just supreme wines.  The Barton family has owned the vineyards since the mid 19th century.

Tonight I offer the 2006 Langoa-Barton, Wine Spectator gave it at 91.  A score like that and it is considered a third growth (not if I were alive in 1855). The beautiful dark raven color shines in the glass.  Like rubies sparkling in the light.  The nose erupts from the uncorked bottle.  Violets, roses, fresh very ripe fruit.  A plentiful basket beckoning.

Loosening the liquid into the mouth your body immediately knows it is being allowed to sample something special.  The full rich fruit coats your mouth and tongue.  Cherry, blackberry, plum and currant.  Soft, elegant tannins linger in the finish.  Balanced, structured, complex….you come up with your own adjectives. Get this while you can not many are left.

Enjoy

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A totally unique blend.  Pinot Noir, Syrah, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay to top it off.
The nose gives off reminders of the holiday. Orange, nutmeg, pepper and spice. 
The wine hits your tongue and the complexity of flavors throws the mind into free fall.
Bright red fruit, cherry, strawberry and even a note of plum.   I know plum sometimes gives that note of stewed fruit…kinda like that cabernet from Paso Robles.
Perennial is best known for pinot blends.  I am not positive this blend works.   It is a decent wine, but for the price I wanted more.  I am not saying it is bad, and I would have it again, just not great.
$$$
Enjoy

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When  most think of cabernet, California comes to mind automatically, mainly Napa but sometimes Sonoma.  What about Washington state, or Idaho? Idaho are you kidding me?   No, pinot maybe,-noir or gris- but cab?

What if I were to tell you about a little winery in Columbia Valley that makes a phenomenal cab.  The winery is owned by Kimber Gates.  It is uniquely located in Coeur D Alene, Idaho, with vineyards in Washington state, mainly Columbia Valley.

The wines are SPECIAL!!!!! Very small production with a total commitment to quality.

I had the extra special pleasure of the 2010 Cabernet.  Pedigreed with cabernet grapes from the Bacchus vineyards, and cab franc from McKinley Springs Vineyard in Horse Heaven Hills.  Can  you imagine this lineage.

The wine is so deep and rich. Cherry and mocha notes right off the bat.  Wow, the wine is so supple and full.  Full bodied with long muscled tannins.  SUPREME!  Chocolate and cherry, who can resist.  Plain out damn good…

$$$

Enjoy

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The Chateau Cote Montpezat, located in the appellation Cotes de Castillon owned by the Bessineau family since 1989.  The history of the chateau goes back to the 16th century.  No doubt providing great wine since.  This 2010 vintage has achieved high ratings 90 or above from many reviewers.  The wine is majority merlot with remaining cab franc and cab sauvignon.

The fragrance of violets and ripe red fruits slowly lofts into the room after opening.  Pour the wine into the decanter and letting it sit for 30 minutes, leave the room and then come back.  The aroma overtakes you as you re-enter.  Starting out soft and easy then the power hits.

The mouth is coated with a soft velvety liquid.  The rich-ripe fruits caress your senses.  Your brain is reaching trying to distinguish all of the flavors.  Besides the dark cherry notes I distinguish a certain fig too.  Soft and elegant throughout.  A lingering spice that makes your mouth water continuously.  Concentrated and full bodied, oh the gorgeous drink.

Enjoy

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My love of Spanish wines continues.Today it is Vinsacro Cosecha (Valsacro) another wine from the Rioja region, and another must try.

Cosecha, (I had to look it up) means to harvest, gather or cultivate. So taking it from there, you get the idea that this wine is a gathering of grapes, cultivated and harvested, then brought together, to form this outstanding art to drink. Yes, I think of wine as an art form. Just like food is an art, or the ability to do so, food and wine are the final product of artists-hence artisans.

This purple colored wine is aged in oak for 16 months.  A blend of Tempranillo, Grenache and Mazuelo.

The nose has a wonderful fresh bouquet featuring violets, roses, hints of cedar and tobacco.

On the tongue the wine confuses you with so many different flavors bouncing throughout. Juicy, may be an overused term… but it does describe the feel of this wine in the mouth. Dark cherry, plum, blackberry, that cedar again.  Spice notes; pepper and cinnamon produce a medium finish. There are tannins but not too over productive to drink alone, though it would go great with cheese or roast.

The wine is easy drinking, friendly, approachable, call it what you want…it is very good. Structured and elegant – more of a medium body stand alone. Definitely a wine that could lay for awhile.

Enjoy $$

Vinsacro, Rioja 2011
Vinsacro, Rioja 2011

Portugal is probably best known for port or madeira.  But it also produces some fine red blends and vinho verde.  Tonight I bring you one of the finest.  Casaleiro Reserva from the Tejo region, formally known as Ribatejo.  The region is best known for its whites, but the reds are proving to be award winners.  This wine is a blend of Touriga-Nacional, Castelao  and Trincadeira.

A 90 point Wine Enthusiast rated and top 100 best buy.

Deep dark garnet color.  An aroma of ripe dark red fruits.  A soothing taste offering depth and appeal to just about every wine lover.  Delicious ripe fruit coats every inch of your mouth.  A long luxurious finish filled with rich fruit flavors and soft elegant tannins.

I pulled this wine off the shelf not ever having it before.  I can say that I was extremely pleased.  Definitely will have again.

Enjoy
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Oh and it went very well with my Italian hoagie.