THE LOW DOWN: This release is loaded with big name, hundred dollar-plus wines. I tasted most of them – felt like being in a boardroom. Lots of power. But there’s wasn’t a wine I’d want to splurge on, or invite to dinner.
My picks include some fabulous Holiday wines and a few others for Winter drinking.
Oysters or any seafood
GROTTA DEL SOLE 09 Falanghina, Campania, Italy
Crisp, pure and refreshing. Not unlike a $25 Chablis. Perfect seafood partner. Falanghina is an underrated native Italian white grape.
KURT DARTING 08 Riesling Spatlese, Pfalz, Germany
Honeyed flavours combined with lemony freshness. Super light with a suggestion of sweetness. Semi sweet but also feels dry. Exotic/sexy but also pure as snow. Welcome to the German Spatlese (late harvest) experience. Gorgeous anytime sipper. Or partner for the big bird.
ERRAZURIZ 10 Pinot Noir ‘Wild Ferment’, Chile
Gamey, raunchy Pinot – strictly for the fan. Drier and more real than most New World Pinots. Needs well seasoned meats, and company. Fermented with natural yeasts – the old fashioned way.
Almost rich red – for almost any situation.
LA FERME DU MONT 09 Cotes du Rhone ‘Le Ponnant’ France
Tasty fruit/spice/earthy flavours. And great vitality. Lovely combination of wine character and sense of fun. Guaranteed to please.
DUCA DI SALAPARUTA 08 Nero d’Avola, ‘Passo delle Mule’, Sicily
If the French grew Nero d’Avola it would be poured at every Bistro in that country. A gutsy red with bright flavours and a drink-lots feeling. Works with just about any food.
FATTORIA VALIANO 06 Chianti Classico ‘Poggio Teo’ Tuscany, Italy
Mature Chianti with a warmhearted, fireside feeling. Soulful too. Best with grilled meats. Sure to appeal to your Italian spirit.
FLAGSTONE 09 Pinotage ‘Writer’s Block’, South Africa
Think Baco on steroids. Red wine with intense gamey, backwoods character. Wild and really good at it. A novel experience for a winter night.
STRATUS 07 Merlot, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake
Not the usual flamboyant Merlot, but one crafted the very dry, Bordeaux style. Concentrated and earthy with a traditional/formal dinner party feeling. Deep at first, becoming delicious later. Needs big glassware and a primo roast of beef or lamb. Impressive gift.
Exotic Aussie Port
GRANT BURGE 10-Year-Old Tawny, Barossa, Australia
Feels warm, exotic and powerful. Somewhere between Tawny Port and a liqueur. Lots of Pow! Sip after dinner, or with all the Christmas candy!
ST-GERMAIN Elderflower Liqueur ‘Delice de Sureau’, France
The delicate and hard-to-describe flavours in this liqueur put a lovely spin on just about any cocktail. Shake it up with vodka/gin or add to sparkling wine. Stylish Art Nouveau bottle.