My blog is a mélange of wine and travel experiences, but sometimes we just need some wine recommendations for upcoming holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, or for everyday consumption. Below are some of the most current wines I have tasted this year, along with some of my favorites from throughout 2013, reviewed for my blog and Plum Deluxe. I hope you find something you enjoy!
Charles Gardet Brut Tradition Champagne, France, $53.00 (tasted at a wine dinner, originally published here)
For December’s holiday celebrations, such as Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, Charles Gardet Brut Tradition Champagne ($53) is the perfect choice. The wine is comprised of 45% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay, and 45% Pinot Meunier grapes. The predominantly red grape blend yields a creamy, rich mouthfeel, with good acidity and flavors of stone fruits, hazelnut, and toasted bread.
2012 Frank Family Vineyards Chardonnay, Carneros, Napa Valley, California, $34.75 (sample provided by Jarvis Communications)
If you enjoy a balance of fruit and oak from grapes fermented nine months in a mix of new, once, and twice-filled French oak, this Chardonnay is for you. It has a rich, buttery mouthfeel, with good acidity and aromas and flavors of butterscotch, stone fruits, tropical fruits, tree fruits and toast.
2011 Frank Family Vineyards Zinfandel, Napa Valley, California, $36.95 (sample provided by Jarvis Communications)
Zinfandel lovers, this one is for you! This Zinfandel spends 18 months in 35% new oak, 65% once and twice-filled French oak. The aromas are complicated and enticing: berries, pepper, and spices, while the flavors of baked black cherries and oak are intertwined on the palate.
2010 Garnet Vineyards Pinot Noir, Rodgers Creek Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, California, $29.99 (sample provided by the winery)
The grapes for this Pinot Noir come from a cool-climate, low-yield single vineyard on a ridge between Petaluma and Sonoma, where winemaker Alison Crowe and her team control production from vineyard to bottle. This Pinot Noir has a velvety mouthfeel and ample acidity, with concentrated aromas and flavors of rich black cherry, spices, and violets. Garnet Vineyards has made this wine easily available through the amazon.com wine portal.
2011 Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery Russian River Selection Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, California, $35.00 (sample provided by Folsom + Associates)
Another creamy, decadent Chardonnay thanks to seven months in 40% new French oak and extended time on lees during malolactic fermentation, this wine possesses aromas and flavors of citrus, honey, and stone fruits.
2010 Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery Russian River Selection Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, California, $42.00 (sample provided by Folsom + Associates)
This wine, whose grapes hail from the famous Rochioli and Hallberg vineyards in the Russian River Valley, sees eight months in 40% new French oak. Aromas and flavors include cola, dark berries, spices, tea, and violets, accompanied by nice acidity.
2012 Kings Ridge Riesling, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $12.00 (sample provided by Union Wine Company, originally published here)
The Riesling grapes for this wine are sourced from some of Oregon’s oldest vineyards, dating back to 1968. Like the Pinot Gris, the vineyard is located in a cooler area of the Willamette Valley with similar temperature swings. It is aged on lees in 100% stainless steel tanks to give it more texture and weight. When I tasted this wine, it was so reminiscent of the Rieslings I’ve tasted from the Finger Lakes. It had amazing acidity, which I love, along with succulent aromas and flavors of peach and tart green apple.
2012 Passaggio Wines New Generation Pinot Grigio, California, $19.00 (sample provided by the winery, originally published here)
This wine is sunshine in a glass, a gorgeous pale straw color, with very inviting floral and fruit aromas. On the palate, there’s a veritable burst of sweet, ripe melon, peaches, pears, and tropical fruits. I paired this wine with a combination veggie and meat pizza as sort of experiment, instead of going with an Italian red or Pinot Noir, and it worked perfectly. There was enough acidity to complement that of the tomato-based sauce and veggies, while the sweet fruit flavors were enhanced by the salty meats, such as pepperoni and sausage.
Schramsberg Vineyards Mirabelle Brut Rosé NV, North Coast, California, $25.00 (purchased for myself, originally published here)
This sparkling rosé is made of a blend of 51% Pinot Noir and 49% Chardonnay grapes from vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Marin counties. It is made in the méthode champenoise like wines from the Champagne AOC of France. It has floral, spicy, and yeasty aromas. On the palate, it has great acidity and a creamy mouthfeel, with flavors of apple, cherry, and citrus.
2009 Lion’s Drift Pinotage, Silkbush Mountain Vineyards, South Africa, $16.99 (sample provided by the winery)
I haven’t tasted many examples of Pinotage, which is a hybrid of Pinot Noir and Hermitage, but it seems that one either loves it or doesn’t. However, in this case, there’s a lot to love. This wine has aromas and flavors of dark and red berries, vanilla, spices, and a meaty, smoky quality. The wine is drinking well now, but has the potential to age for 10-20 years.
2012 Silkbush Mountain Vineyards Viognier, Breedekloof, Western Cape, South Africa, $16.99 (sample provided by the winery)
The cool mountain climate of the vineyards has allowed for the production of this lovely Viognier. It’s fermented in stainless steel, but spends some time on lees. It has a creamy mouthfeel, with aromas and flavors of honey, melon, stone fruits, and tropical fruits. Ready to drink now, it has the potential to age for up to five years.
2010 Willamette Valley Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $30.00 (tasted at Willamette Valley Vineyards)
As a follow-up to the 2013 Wine Tourism Conference in Portland, Oregon, I had the opportunity to participate in a four-course wine dinner at Willamette Valley Vineyards in their new tasting and event space. The winery was founded 30 years ago by Jim Bernau, who was in attendance along with the winemaker, Don Crank III, and Chef Eric Nelson. One of the courses, grilled Anderson Ranch lamb loin, was paired with the estate Pinot Noir. The wine was earthy and meaty, with aromas and flavors of herbs, truffles, red berries, spices, and tea, and paired perfectly with the lamb. It was one of my favorite pairings of the evening.
As part of my personal commitment to soul searching and finding my path, I plan to take a break from writing to enjoy the holidays and savor life’s deliciousness without note taking and photos. I want to thank everyone who has read my blog this year. It’s been another year of tremendous change and growth. I am eternally grateful for those of you who have continued to follow my both literal and figurative journeys. I wish you a wonderful holiday season filled with wine, food, family, friends, and of course, travel.
Wishing you love and happiness in 2014!