The holidays are upon us and as the year comes to an end here is a selection of wines worthy of gracing your table during this time of the year. All merit a seat at any holiday dinner. Representing a balance of many countries but most specifically the Americas.
Beginning in Italy with a Pinot Grigio from the Alto Adige area one finds a very refreshing perky crisp wine. The Peter Zemmer 2014 Pinot Grigio has is a bit of effervescence but on the whole this wine from the Italian Alps is one of the better Pinot Grigios. There is a freshness and quality to this wine that is not typical of this varietal. Perhaps it is due to the elevation. Overall one finds lemon, lime, peach and pear on the palate.
If Sauvignon Blanc strikes your fancy Rutini’s 2014 is quite impressive. Rutini’s roots are in Italy but relocating to Mendoza Argentina the family became one of the forerunners in the wine industry after establishing the winery in 1885. With subtle nuances this wine is not overly citrusy or grassy like some of its competitors. This is partially due to the fact that the wine is aged in 50% new oak and 50% 2-3 years old oak barrels. This is not typical of Sauvignon Blanc as most are aged in stainless steel. The wine has crisp bright aromas that have mild hints of grass and flavors of peach, citrus and white flower. The oak imparts more viscosity, texture and depth into the wine. There is a quality very much in style like Viognier that makes this wine outstanding.
From France there is the Le Vignes de Bila-Haut Rouge Du Roussillon Villages. The wine has fresh blueberries and hints of clove and pepper on the palate. This Rhone blend of mainly Syrah combined with Grenache and Carignan is a light medium bodied wine. It is very elegant and appealing. What is interesting about Domaine Bila-Haut is that there is Braille on the label. The story behind this is a friend of winemaker Michel Chapoutier, the well-known singer in France Gilbert Montagné, who is blind and a wine lover always needed assistance to fully understand the wines he wanted to purchase. To honor his friends needs and those of others with this handicap, Michel started placing Braille on all his wine labels. The Braille states the name of the wine, the producer, the vintage, vineyard and whether the wine is red, white or a Rosé. You might say this wine is ADA compliant.
On a visit to charming town of Carmel By The Sea, while staying at the Hofsas Hotel we were treated to a bottle of Ventana 2012 Pinot Noir Arroyo Seco/Monterey. For a wine especially a Pinot Noir priced under $20 this was is an outstanding wine. It is surprising how bright, together and balanced this medium bodied wine is. The flavors of cherries, raisins, currants and vanilla were very apparent. The aromas are very earthy with hints of tobacco.
Moving south again to Chili there are several wines from Concha Y Toro that would be a good bet for any holiday meal. Both wines are from the Gran Reserva Serie Riberas. Riberas means river in Spanish. Each of these single vineyard wines are situated in close proximity to one of Chile’s major rivers. The following characteristics exist in each area. Each has cool breezes that come in from the coast and travel along the river corridors. At the same time mountain winds from the Andes also play a role in the profile of the wine. The diurnal contrasts are caused by cold ocean air and warm air currents from the Central Valley meeting to produce cooling winds. Lastly the ancient riverbank soil is rich in minerals creating more complex wines. The 2013 Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Ribera Del Cachapeal Carmenere is from the D0 Peumo. The wine has aromas of dried fruit, dried herbs, mocha and tobacco. The flavors are of black fruit predominately deep cherry with mocha, tobacco, plum and cumin. The wine is smooth and balanced.
The 2013 Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Ribera del Tinguiririca Cabernet Sauvignon is located near the Tinguiririca River in the Do Region of Machiigue of the Colchagua Valley. This wine is very earthy with hints of green pepper. With its deep purple color the wine has a very herbal vegetable quality. There is also hints of mocha. As the wine sits it opens up to a marvelously fragrant wine that reveals dark and red fruit. It is smoothly balance and of all the wines sampled has the most holding power.
Finally at the holiday time one always needs a good Cabernet Sauvignon. When thinking of Paso Robles one often thinks of big fruit forward wines. One will be pleasantly surprised with Oso Libre’s 2011 Querida Cabernet Sauvignon. Querida is predominately Cabernet Sauvignon blended with 6% Merlot and the grapes come from the Adelaida AVA. This is a lighter Cabernet that is created more in the Bordeaux style. With its soft tannins this is an ideal wine to accompany turkey, which so often is not a match for Cabernet Sauvignon but in this case it works. The nose is very earthy accentuated with hints of baking spices. The flavors include cranberry, currant, leather, licorice and vanilla.
Querida means darling in Portuguese and sweetheart or lover in Spanish, therefore naming the most popular and favorite varietal Querida is perfect since it will definitely be a lover for all wine enthusiasts.
Perhaps to the wine lover; all outstanding wines are Querida and in this group any would merit this title and be an excellent addition to compliment any meal.