I hope you are all doing well and have a wonderful holiday season with lots of food and beautiful wines with your loved ones and friends. I enjoy drinking food friendly wines that don’t take away from all the hard work that is done in the kitchen during this holiday, which I must confess will not be done by me! That is why I pick wines that are good in their own right, but that compliments the food and don’t steal the show. So what to drink? Well, it is not a time for big wines or wines that take lots of thought, it is more about simple wines that add to the whole that don’t steal the show. That means no blockbuster Bordeaux, Napa Cabernet or bold Shiraz during dinner, save those for after or a special occasion, instead I ‘d go with a fresh and medium weight wine, there are some old standards like Cru Beaujolais and Gewurztraminer from Alsace, though nice and fun I rather have something a bit more interesting. I like Champagne with any meal anytime and everyday, so make sure that it is always an option, one of my picks is a small Champagne house Pierre Peters, I really like their lovely Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs, but a good sparkling wine with do, like Roederer Estate from Mendocino. Beyond that I have put together a small list of my favorites below. Thanks for all your support and have a great holiday!
2005 Adanti “Nispero” Rosso dell’ Umbria (Sangiovese) Italy.
This Umbrian red is round and lush with classic Sangiovese character with fresh cherry, strawberry and plum fruit with hints of cedar, dried flowers and mountain herbs. Clean flavors and soft textures cut the natural acidity, plus there is some Merlot in the blend that adds complexity and depth as well as body. This is a super value and an off the beaten path wine that delivers good rich layers and remains true to its heritage and terroir. ($20 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
2006 Joguet Chinon Les Petite Roche, Loire Valley, France (Cabernet Franc)
Charles Joguet winery is a master of making lovely and textured Cabernet Franc in Chinon in the Loire Valley of France and this vintage is just beautiful. Kermit Lynch imports this little gem and Joguet’s other wines as well, so it can be found pretty easily, though it is a small production. This Chinon is everything it should be and just that little bit more that sets it apart from others from this area, with lush body and spicy, sweet perfume and dark color. This richness and depth are fantastic and it drinks great now, so drink up! There are lots of layers of flavors and clean focus with cherry, blackberry, plum and currant fruit all delivered brightly and fresh, which almost makes you, think of Pinot Noir. The tangy fruits are livelier than you’d find in a Bordeaux style Franc and much more fun! ($26 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2006 Nicholas Rossignol Bourgogne Rouge (Pinot Noir) Red Burgundy
Here is a classy and rich Burgundy that is a super value and reminds you why it is the holy grail of Pinot Noir, Burgundy that is. This winery is tapped to be a superstar in Burgundy and I would have to agree, as I have tried his upper level wines as well and found them amazing, though I am very fond of this little Bourgogne for its class and depth. I believe this wine is all or mostly from Premier Cru vineyards, and I must say it tastes like it with full classic flavors. Rossignol is based in Volnay, and I think they specialize in Beaune vineyard sites which character this wine shows. There is a hint of game and truffle behind the nose of wild flowers and red berries, before moving to soft cherry and cranberry fruits on the palate with touches of smoke, baking spices and a full plum note. This is a rich and savory Pinot Noir that is a killer deal, though it maybe hard to find, so ask your local merchant to dig around as it is worth your time. ($29 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
2004 Allegrini “La Grola” Veronese Red, Veneto, Italy
Allegrini is one of the great wineries of the world, let alone Italy, with many great wines coming from their cellar especially their Amarone. They seem to have the magic touch with the native Veronese grape Corvina of which they use to great effect in this wine. The “La Grola” is an IGT and a vineyard terroir wine from the hills above Verona and is truly a wine of the place with intensity and unique characteristics that make it a one of a kind red and one you really should try. This wine is always one that I get a few of each vintage and I am a huge fan of the winery, of that I will make not secret of! This vintage was a blockbuster and near perfect conditions gave both beautiful ripeness and good acidity. The 2003 had too much heat, so I was really happy with the classic style of the 2004 and it is really coming together nicely with bright intense red berry, earthy plum and spiced cherry fruits that explode on the palate. This wine has mineral, acidity and cedar notes that add complexity and it really finishes long and savory. ($36 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2005 La Spinetta Barbera “Ca’ di Pian” Barbera d’ Asti, Piedmonte, Italy
Whenever you read about Piedmonte and hear about the great reds of the region you hear of La Spinetta and its leader Giorgio Rivetti, who renowned for his famed Barbarescos and Barolo, just pick up Wine Spectator (Dec. 15, 2008 issue) to see his face and get his scores, this is top quality wine in the same league as Angelo Gaja or Bruno Giacosa! But, I love his Barbera and always get at least a case every year, especially the Ca d’ Pian Barbera d’ Asti. This is another favorite of mine, and a wine I can drink anytime without quilt, as it is a great wine and a super value. This vintage is big and lush, but has nice bright flavors and balance with pure Barbera flavors and ease of use! There are lots of fresh grapey layers with blackberry and plumy fruit, mineral and hints of cranberry with a full body and smooth tannins. ($29 Est.) 92-93 Points, grapelive