As we grapple with the latest 2020 has offered up to us, many of us are finding our holiday plans altered or even canceled. Even if your family gathering may not be quite the same as it has been in past years, it can still be a time for celebration, gratitude, good food, and of course, great wine. Here is a small list of special and unique wines, perhaps a little more expensive than your typical Saturday night wine, to make your holiday shining and bright.
Our first wine is from an appellation or small region called Saumur in the Loire River Valley in France and is a beautiful presentation of the Chenin Blanc (also called Saumur Blanc) varietal. This particular Saumur Blanc is from wine maker Brendan Stater and would be a perfect wine for your Thanksgiving table. Bright acidity, with notes of stone fruit and hints of Granny Smith apple, this wine can cut the carb heavy and salty components we often enjoy with turkey or ham while elevating the subtle notes of mushroom, sage, and cream so often woven in and out of beloved Thanksgiving dishes. This wine can be found at boutique wine shops and retails around $53. The 2017 is still pretty young, so consider decanting this wine to allow it to open up and really relax.
Our second white wine is from a familiar region but may be an unfamiliar varietal. Hailing from Burgundy, Aligoté is the third varietal grown in the region but is often overshadowed by the two others, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. A cousin of Chardonnay, you can consider Aligoté as a happy medium between your Chard and Sauv Blanc wine drinkers. Winery Clos du Roy’s Aligoté is certified organic and uses biodynamic production methods, with minimal sulfites, which is great for folks who suffer from sulfite triggered headaches. This wine has notes of lemon, peach, and apple blossom with a hint of saline on the finish. The salt water notes make it perfect if you enjoy oyster stuffing or any shellfish on your holiday table. The bright acidity makes it another perfect choice for the carb heavy foods yet allows your bird (turkey, chicken, or duck) to really be the star of your meal. This wine will run you around $55 and can be found at most wine focused liquor stores.
Our first red wine is from the same region as our Aligoté, Burgundy. As with all red wines from Burgundy, this Pinot Noir has delicate tannins and a velvety smooth finish. Subtle notes of black cherry and anis, this wine will not over power turkey, will cut the salt of ham, and will make lamb sing! The earthiness will highlight the herbs in most stuffing and potato dishes and is just damn good by itself. Price points can range (this particular Premier Cru averages about $58-70).
We head over to the Piedmont of Italy for our second red wine, the 2012 Manzone Barolo. This 100% Nebbiolo wine from northern Italy is an amazing wine for prime rib or rack of lamb…notable, but not overpowering, tannins with licorice, cherry, and rose notes, this gorgeous wine is one of the reasons I love the Piedmont. Nebbiolo, which means “little fog,” is one of my top 5 varietals and I consider an aged Barolo a death bed wine. While this wine is on the young side for Barolos (ideally, I look for at least 10 years of age) this one does not disappoint. Because of it’s youth, it is a steal when it comes to this genre of Italian wines. While this wine would be too much for most poultry, it is supple enough that duck would pair nicely if you are not choosing beef, pork, or lamb for your protein. Most specialty wine shops will offer this wine in the $50-60 range.
What are holiday celebrations without some bubbles? We head back over to France with a classic Brut Rosé from A. Margaine in Champagne. Baking spice and red fruit with buttery, pastry cream notes, is the perfect accompaniment to oysters on the half shell or, if you are really splurging, lobster or caviar. My personal favorite pairing with this GORGEOUS wine is fresh French baguette with a schmear of quality unsalted butter topped with the decadent Brillat-Savarin Brie cheese. If you are eyeing this for the dessert course, pair this with cheesecake and fresh berries (just avoid pairing it with anything too sweet…save our last wine for that.)
Our final wine is the Oremus Late Harvest Tokaji (pronounced “toe-hi”.) The most famous wine region in Hungary, Tokaji can be found either dry or dessert/sweet in form. Late Harvest indicates these grapes were allowed to stay on the vine and enter into what is known as “Noble Rot,” or Boytritis Cinerea. When noble rot is allowed to set in on grapes, the sugar skyrockets and thus these wines do not have all of the sugar consumed during the fermentation process, hence the thicker viscosity and sweeter finish. In this Tokaji, the golden nectar takes on an ambrosia quality with Mandarin oranges, lemon zest, and apricot jam notes. Perfect for a dessert course, I recommend enjoying this wine with your favorite blue cheese or as dessert itself.
Finally, Mandy asked me to find some suggestions that you might find at your local Costco. Believe it or not, Costco’s own name brand, Kirkland, actually has some decent wines at really good prices. But, if you are looking for quality wines at decent prices, here are a few I would recommend you try:
Please be sure to check out the wine tasting on 850 KOA under Mandy’s podcast (or tune in live at 2PM!)
UPDATE: The cheeses we enjoyed…
All of the these cheeses can be found and ordered from Springside Cheese Shop in Pueblo (they also ship throughout the US, so consider giving the gift of cheese for Christmas!)
Marin Petite Truffle (Triple Cream Brie)
Red Barn Cupola