My new sales strategy is to just put together lists of what I want to drink for each holiday and then use them as my feature wines. It's that kind of "you can't please everyone, so please yourself" mentality. So here's a list of the wines I'm really excited about with descriptions, food pairings, and ball park retail prices. I hope these are helpful.
Henry Varnay Blanc de
Blancs Brut NV $12.99
In my humble estimation
the Henry Varney Blanc de Blancs is one of the hands down best sparklers that costs
under $15. It has a classy, attractive
label and the wine inside is delicious, balanced, and easy to drink. It’s a blend of Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay
from the Loire. The wine has an inviting
aroma of white flowers, green apple, and a hint of toasted bread. The pallet is creamy, a slight bit toasty,
but smooth with a softly dry finish. I once
drank four bottles in the course of a night and can swear that the wine will
not give you a nasty hangover.
Fattoria La Rivolta
Falanghina DOC 2008 $21.99
Falanghina is quickly
becoming one of my favorite white wines, and this is among the most refined,
complex examples I’ve tasted. There are aromas
of lemon tart, a hint of grapefruit, and a bit honeyed. The pallet follows up with a full body and lush
mouth feel balanced with some great flinty minerality on the mid pallet. This wine pulls off being big and focused at
the same time. If you like un-oaked
Chardonnay, full bodied Pinot Grigio, or dry Vouvray this is a good white to
Domaine de L'Harmas
Cotes du Rhone 2005 $14.99
Domaine de L’Harmas is
a small family domaine in northern Chateauneuf, near Beaucastel. This Cotes du Rhone is a blend of old vines
Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre from a single 2.5 hectare vineyard. The grapes are fermented all together traditionally
and then aged in old neutral oak casks.
2005 was a great vintage and the wine has just improved from having time
in the bottle. This is full bodied,
complex wine with smoke, black pepper, autumn leaves, roasted meat, leather,
and cherry and cranberry fruit. Mature
tannins round out this approachable wine that’s really worthy of the moniker
“baby Chateaunuef du Pape”.
Bodegas Ostatu Rioja
This Rioja is one of
the biggest baddest in your face Riojas I’ve had, yet it’s still balanced! The fruit is ripe and juicy, but it’s not
jammy at all. There’s some earth to it,
some spice, and a hint of vanilla, but also some bright acidity and firm
tannins on the finish tying it together.
As it opens up it takes on some slightly woodsy qualities as well. This is a great wine for a big roast
beef! The acidity and fruit will work
well with beef and the tannins are strong enough to stand up, but not so harsh
as to clash.
Three Saints Syrah
Santa Ynez 2007 $20.99
I make no secret of the fact that I’ve got a
big crush on Santa Barbara Syrah. This
comes from the Starlane ranch in the extreme east of the county where the
grapes get riper and more powerful. It’s
inky and dark with serious brooding blackcherry fruit, lush expansive texture,
black pepper, and ripe mouth watering tannins.
It’s still balanced, no component is over the top, but it’s about as
sexy and hedonistic as wine comes. I look
forward to drinking this on some of the long cold nights this winter.
Star Lane Cabernet
Sauvignon Santa Ynez 2005 $55
Starlane Cabernet 2005
was named best new domestic Cabernet of the year by Food and Wine. I’m really fond of it because it’s a big old
school CA Cabernet. The wine is a blend
of Cabernet with small proportions of Petite Verdot, Merlot, and Cabernet
Franc. The vineyards are on sun baked
mountain sides so steep all the work has to be done by hand. I love the dense, tightly wound currant,
black cherry, character of it with touches of blueberry, graphite, and mocha
woven in. It’s got an alluring spicy
character of those dry baked hill sides up above the fog line that comes
through on the mid-pallet.
El Maestro Sierra
Pedro Ximenez Sherry 375 ml $18.99
raisins, Apple crumble with cinnamon, Hazelnut, and Butterscotch are all aromas
that leap from a glass of this Sherry. The
pallet is a great combination of rich raisinated fruit with balancing acidity
underlying it followed by a sweet, but not cloying mid-pallet and then a finish
of butterscotch and a long lingering hazel nut flavor. An excellent cold weather dessert wine.