Wine of the Week
My recommendations for the second six wines for the twelve days of Christmas are listed below. Getting into the red wines, I have chosen wines from around the world
Starting with the seventh day of Christmas, I recommend that instead of drinking seven glasses of wine, you should consider inviting seven friends over and suggest that each of them bring a bottle. By the time the twelfth day rolls around, you will have either garnered numerous new friends or have gained the reputation as the biggest lush in the neighborhood.
Day 7: Antinori, Santa Christina, Italian: This wine is an excellent value, whether on the grocery shelf or in a restaurant. It is a blend of Sangiovese with a small amount of Merlot and exhibits cherry flavors with the leaner Italian style. I can drink it every night. $14.00
Day 8: Torres Coronas, Spain: Medium to full bodied, a beautiful silky wine made from the Tempranillo grape with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. It is very ripe with black fruit flavors and a smooth touch of spice. $11.00
Day 9: Alamos, Malbec, Argentina: Possibly one of the best wine values on the planet. Alamos is the value tier from the Catena family of wines. A recent vintage will have excellent fruit and balance with a dark purple color - an older bottle will express more earthy flavors, reminiscent of Bordeaux. If you like the Alamos, try the Catena or the Alta. They are exceptional. $13.00
Day 10: Marquis Phillips, The Scooter, Merlot, Australia: For folks looking for concentrated, full bodied, high alcohol wines with intense flavors, this is for you. This highly rated wine is still a relative secret. Be advised, it is not your easy going Merlot. Lamb chops or game will be your best match or bring to a party when you want to say, "my wine is more impressive than yours is". $22.00
Day 11: Ravenswood, Vintners Reserve, Zinfandel, CA; This wine is a really good example of Zinfandel done easy. Not too powerful, not too elegant. It is made in a style that goes with pizza, burgers, chili, meatloaf, etc. Probably the most recognized example of a varietal unique to the US. $11.00
Day 12: BV, Tapestry Napa Cab, CA; A really excellent wine that is underpriced for its quality. Several years ago, it sold for a much higher price, but because of a reported problem with cork taint, lost considerable value. This is an excellent California Meritage, with complex flavors. I recommend that you buy it. I do, as does my restaurant, Ruth's Chris Steak House. $28.00
The wines I have recommended are excellent values and I hope you will seek them out at your local wine/grocery store. I would really like to hear what you think.
I wish you the happiest of holidays.
My wine recommendations for the first six of the twelve days of Christmas are listed below. Some are from previous recommendations, others are recently tasted wines. Almost all are value-priced. By the way, as the big day approaches, the strength of the wines increase.
If you are buying by the case, split cases will still get you the "case discount". This usually amounts to a 10% discount if you buy 12.
Following the idea expressed in the "12 Days of Christmas" song, I recommend drinking one bottle on day-one, and two bottles on day-two. After that, switch to glasses.
Day 1: Gruet Sparkling Wine, from New Mexico; An excellent medium bodied sparkling wine with crisp flavors - fresh, tart and a great way to prepare for the upcoming holiday. About $13
Day 2: Louis Latour, Macon Villages; French Chardonnay with no oak. It's light to medium bodied, very refreshing, particularly good if eating seafood with butter or olive oil. About $13
Day 3: Big House White, CA; Bonny Doone makes this easy drinking wine with grape varieties you may never have heard of. Read the back of the bottle for the names. It's slightly sweet and great to drink alone or with a fruit salad or dishes with cream. It's very tasty and for the price, I buy it by the case. About $9
Day 4: Dr Loosen Riesling, Germany; This is a very good example of Riesling with a nice blend of sweetness and acid. Some will start drinking this wine as a cocktail and drink it all night. For those who still like White Zinfandel, this is an excellent substitute. About $11
Day 5: Trimbach Gewurztraminer; Easy for me to say! This is normally a sweet, spicy wine, but Trimbach makes it in a dry style. One of my favorites but it can have a bit too much earthiness for some. It's excellent if you are making food with Asian flavors or even spicy Mexican. About $15
Day 6: Conundrum, CA; This is one of the most popular off-dry wines in America. The blend of grapes is always a question, thus the conundrum. It is usually made from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat and other sweet grape varieties. An excellent upscale white wine that almost everyone will like. About $20
This is not your normal recommendation - this one was expensive but I wanted you to know how great it was.
For Thanksgiving, I told my wife Donna that because of the occasion, I wanted to share a very special wine. The wine was a 1999 Echezeaux produced by Domaine des Perdrix. The name Echezeaux indicates that the wine was French Burgundy from one of the most respected and highly regarded vineyard sites in the world. It's a Pinot Noir from the area of the world that produces the benchmark for the grape. It had been given to me as a gift years earlier and I know that it was very expensive, probably costing $150 or more when it was purchased.
So what was the result? The Echezeaux was one of the best bottles I have ever tasted. It had incredible flavors of allspice and black cherry. It was sublimely smooth with the perfect blend of fruit and tannin. It had an earthy- mineral component that could have only come from a great Burgundy. It even had some of the scents described as cigar box and saddle. My friends agreed with me that wine just doesn't get any better.
Excellent tart cherry fruit and blends, but does not overpower the great flavor of sauces. Should run you around $9 to $11.
Torress, Mas La Plana can also be known as the "Black Label" and it is made from Cabernet Sauvignon.
It has big dark fruit and roasted coffee flavors with structured tannins. This is a wine that will benefit from aging and priced at the top of the portfolio at about $55.
Well balanced wine with mackintosh apple flavors and a hint of vanilla. Not too sweet, but good body. Around $8.00 per glass or $35 per bottle.
Another wine from Torres.
"Blood of the Bull" is made from several traditional Mediterranean grapes including Garnacha. It is a bit heavier than the Coronas and pairs best with meat and cheese. This wine sells for about $17.
Torres red wines are quite excellent and most are crafted in a smooth easy drinking style.
Torres Coronas is the most widely known wine and is made from the Tempranillo grape. It's smooth and lush, medium bodied and velvety. For me, it is the wine that goes well with just about any type of food. Cost about $12
Nice tart herbal flavors with a bit of almond on the finish.
Good with grilled fish or fried fish with tartar sauce. Price should be around $7.50 per glass or $30 per bottle
Nice tangy taste with good pear and green apple fruit. Great with scallops or lemon caper chicken. $12 magnum.
Louis Latour, Ardeche Chardonnay is another grocery store wine. For those who don't normally buy French wine, and like the flavors of American Chardonnay, I highly recommend this.
Even though this wine is produced for the American pallet, there is a distinctive difference in flavor from either the American or Australian Chardonnay or the French White Burgundies (made from Chardonnay grapes). For me, it's outstanding for the price and comes pretty close to producing the flavors I look for in white wines- Beautiful, crisp, apple flavor with a moderate dose of oak. This wine would be great with roast chicken, grilled corn on the cob, and maybe some sautéed potatoes and onions. Just at $10
Big House White is a grocery store wine made from a lot of grapes you may never have heard of. They include Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Malvasia, Bianca, Muscat, and Marsanne among others.
The nose smells floral and leaves the impression of a very sweet wine. However the wine is refreshingly fruit forward without being very sweet at all. There is also a mineral quality with the wine that allows food matches with grilled chicken, simple seafood preparations - particularly with a little spice. Mostly, it's a backyard quaffer from a reputable producer (Bonny Doone) at a good price - about $9