I know there are only four days ’till Xmas, but some folks out there might still need to stock up on some wine for the holiday season. So here is my Holiday Wine List for 2010 — the best of what’s available in the BC Government Specialty Liquor stores right now.
Best Bargains (less than $15)
2009 Syrah – Finca Los Primos (Argentina/$10.44) – Can’t imagine getting more fruit for your dollar than in this wine; literally exploding with black cherries, along with a touch of oak and herbs.
2010 Sauvignon Blanc – Two Oceans (South Africa/$8.99) – This is just a stupid bargain, all crisp citrus and little or no oak to be found.
Best of B.C.
2009 Pinot Noir – Nk Mip ($19.95) – This is always a good wine by the First Nations winery in the Okanagan, but something special happened here; really ripe, but not jammy, with a bit of earthiness and full body that reminds me of a $30+ wine.
2008 Chardonnay – Township 7 ($20.01) – This has been the best — and best value — white wine from BC since it landed in the stores earlier this year. Golden yellow, vanilla/butter/citrus on the nose, and so, so lush, with a touch of butterscotch. Reminds me of Beringer’s wines from California for a third of the price.
Best Mid-Price Wines ($15 – $25)
2009 Cotes du Ventoux – Chateau Pesquie (France/$18.99) Year in, year out, this wine is stuffed with earthy Provencal fruit and flavour, making many of its Cotes du Rhone brothers look thin in comparison. I sense a bit more Syrah in the mix this year, with wonderful peppery black fruit and no tannins.
2009 Conundrum – Caymus (U.S.A./California/$24.99) “Fruit cocktail” were the words the popped into my head after trying the latest vintage of this wine. Literally a smorgasbord of fruit flavours, really ripe, but not sweet at all. And with the price down from $32, it is a great value.
Best Expensive Wines ($25 – $40)
2007 Chateauneuf du Pape – Vieux Lazaret (France/$38.93) This baby I bought for my cellar based on Parker’s recommendation (91, I believe). You don’t find many CHPs under $40 anymore, and with this being a classic vintage, it is supposed to keep for 15 – 20 years. I love nothing better than old CHP!
2008 Chablis 1er Cru Montmains – Brocard (France/$39.99) I became a fan of Chablis again this year for two reasons — it can age and, for Burgundy, it offers tremendous value (where many wines are in the $50 + range and, frankly, are pretty insipid). Again, a great vintage and another 90+ Parker wine that will sit in the cellar for 8 years or so before I try it.
Best Splurges (> $40)
2004 Brunello di Montalcino – Castelgiocondo (Italy/$54.99) Hey, I’m part Italian…what can I say? I can’t afford Brunello any more (same with most Barolo and Barbaresco from Piedmonte), but if I could this would be for me. A value by Brunello standards (where most wines are $70 +), it is yet another 90 + Parker wine that will develop for at least 10 years in the cellar. It is also sometimes available in 375 ml bottles, so look for that as well.
2008 Riesling Spatlese Trocken – Muller-Catoir (Germany/$57.99) I had a lot of trouble finding a “splurge white” this year in the store. Lots of expensive California and Burgundy wines, but the quality didn’t seem to be there. I settled on this wine, again by a Parker recommendation. Riesling is the “Rodney Dangerfield” of white wines, but this baby will age for years as well.
Best Sparkling & Sweet
NV Cava Brut – Pares Balta (Spain/$19.99) I decided to give the regular Segura Viudas a break this year (although still a great value) and go with this Cava from Spain. Classic green apples, crisp and dry with nice bubbles, it tastes like a wine worth $10 more. Not champagne, but sure to impress your guests!
2001 Malvedos Vintage Port – Graham’s (Portugal/$31.95 ) Vintage Port — like some many other wines these days — is out of my “snack bracket”, even in half bottles, but these single Quintas can provide amazing value and enjoyment. This one has been in the stores for a while and gives those wonderful chocolatey raisins that have picked up complexity from almost ten years of aging.
Well, that’s it for this year. I wish all my readers a Merry Xmas and Happy Holiday season! And lets look forward to more wine in 2011!