Is there a more appropriate or festive wine for holiday toasting than Champagne and sparkling wine? I think not. One does not have to mortgage the house to enjoy really fantastic sparklers.
NV Renardat-Fache Bugey Cerdon Méthode Ancestrale Rosé, $26. It is really hard to find a more crowd pleasing bubbly than this. A blend of Gamay and Poulsard grapes, this is delicious. Wine-Searcher.
2014 Château Petit Roubié Picpoul-de-Pinet. The wine is crafted from 100% Picpoul, a grape grown primarily in the Rhone Valley and Languedoc regions of France. The wine shows a gorgeous yellow hue in the glass and a peachy floral bouquet, while the medium-bodied palate displays a lovely citrus undertone. I also like the balance of acidity and minerality the wine imparts on the palate. If you like Pinot Grigio, you will love this and you will especially fall in love with the $15 price tag. Wine Legend, NJ; Wine-Searcher.
2014 Giovanni Almondo Roero Arneis Bricco delle Ciliegie. This is a fantastic white wine from the Roero region of Piedmont Italy. Produced from the Arneis grape, the wine is full-bodied with crisp ripe fruit and a lush minerality on the palate and a long, clean finish. One of the best Arneis wines I have ever had. $25. Amanti Vino, Montclair, NJ.
2013 Pattes Loup Chablis. This tiny estate located in Courgis, France (just outside Chablis) was started by Thomas Pico in 2005. He uses only indigenous yeasts and harvests and sorts his grapes by hand. This, his Villages level Chablis, is crafted from 55+-year-old vines, and is fermented in about 30-40% in concrete egg-shaped fermenters with the balance in stainless steel. His Premier Crus, from hillside vineyards between 25 and 50 years old, are all raised in older oak. This wine is a great example of not having to spend a lot of money for a top white Burgundy. The wine displays pristine purity with impeccable balance on the palate before finishing with elegance and finesse. $30. Wine-Searcher.
2014 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay. Founded in 1975 by Tim Hamilton Russell this estate is the most southerly wine estate in Africa. The estate specializes in producing terroir driven Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines that are very reminiscent of the wines of the Cote de Nuits region of Burgundy. The wine displays a rich, focused and elegantly textured palate with a great finish. You have to spend at least 3 times the $26 price to get comparable Chardonnay from Burgundy. Wine Legend, NJ; Wine-Searcher.
2009 G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe $36. This is the estate’s entry level Barolo but you would never know it. Situated in Vergne, the highest village in the Commune of Barolo, the estate was established in 1972. This under the radar producer of traditional Barolo makes some of the most consistently high quality and affordable wines produced anywhere. The wine possesses a beautiful translucent red hue, huge earthy bouquet, a completely seductive palate of complex, focused and balanced fruit and had a delicate and elegant 45 second finish. This is an amazing value. Wine-Searcher.
2002 Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses $36. 100% Cabernet Franc from the Chinon region of France’s Loire Valley, this is a formidable wine that brings smiles to the faces of all who drink it. The grapes are handpicked and fermented in stainless-steel. The wines are then aged in larger, neutral oak and sometimes chestnut - a traditional barrel wood in the region. The ‘Picasses’ spends two to three years in oak, to reduce the wine and soften the tannins, and is usually released about 4 years after the vintage. Give the wine 2+ hours of air and it will do a soft ballet on your palate with its superbly balanced fruit and acidity and finish with a lengthy and soft elegance. At the beginning of its drinking window this beauty will last for a couple more decades. Wine-Searcher.
2012 Fonterenza Rosso di Montalcino $40. This remarkable “baby Brunello” from the twin Padovani sisters must be tasted to appreciate. Mentored by the great Gianfranco Soldera, the elegance and balance of this wine is amazing. The wine is aged for 20 months, followed by another 8 months in barrel before it is released. The fruit is pure on a complex and focused palate and the finish has substantial length. Wine-Searcher.
2008 Cerbaiona Brunello di Montalcino $182. Feel like taking it up a couple of notches, the Brunellos of Diego Molinari will fit the bill nicely. These are simply elegant wines that dance on the palate in a harmonious balance of fruit, complexity and elegance. No riservas are made from the limited 1700 cases produced. Straightforward and traditional the grapes are harvested by hand and pressed in a vintage wood-sided press before fermenting in cement tanks. The wine ages for 4+ years in cask and at least 6 months in bottle before release. Nothing is added (no yeasts, no enzymes) and nothing is subtracted (no fining or filtration). This is world glass juice at a reasonable price considering the quality. Wine-Searcher.
1985 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano D’Abruzzo $220. At age 30 this wine is really in its peak drinking window and should remain there for another decade at least, if not longer. The wine soars from the glass with an enticing, earthy and complex bouquet and fruit and earth. The mid-palate shows substantial depth and brilliant focus. The finish seems to last forever. A very special wine and worth the indulgence at this time of year. Wine-Searcher. The 2000 vintage at around $145 would be a fantastic alternative to the 1985 or to drink side by side. Pepe's wines are the quintessential examples of old world wine making. It is his belief that Mother Nature is the best care-giver for the vines, thus his grapes are grown organically, hand-harvested, hand destemmed, naturally fermented and aged 18-24 months in glass-lined tanks. The wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered, without added SO2, and aged in their cellar, in bottle, for continued development. Before release, the wines are decanted by hand into new bottles, and then labeled.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all!