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The Twelve Days of Christmas
By Linda Murphy
Dec 8, 2009
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On the first day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
A 3-liter of Screaming Eagle, praise be!

(Which I hope to sell, when the economy recovers, for thousands of dollars, to be used as a down payment on a used car, to replace my really, really used car.  Or perhaps I’ll use the proceeds to pay for a few months of health insurance premiums.  Decisions, decisions …)
 
On the second day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Two EuroCaves
And a 3-liter of Screagle, thank ye!

(If I hold onto the Screaming Eagle Cabernet long enough, keeping it safe and sound in one of the temperature- and humidity-controlled EuroCaves, I could later sell it for even more money, and get both the new used car and the health insurance.  I might even be able to pay the electric bill that keeps the EuroCaves running.)

On the third day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Three Burgundies
Two EuroCaves
And a 3-liter of Screaming Eagle, whoopie!

(Honey, could those Burgundies please be from Domaine de la Romanee Conti?  Any vintage will do.  If you really loved me …)

On the fourth day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Four Cobb Pinots
Three Burgundies
Two EuroCaves
And a mag of Screaming Eagle, wee hee!

(As much as I covet DRC, California Pinot Noir deserves equal time, and the one that wowed me the most in 2009 was the 2006 Cobb Wines Coastlands Vineyard Diane Cobb Block from the chilly, “true” Sonoma Coast.  It’s gorgeous, with floral, black pepper and savory underbrush aromas and perfectly ripe fruit flavors. There is an ethereal quality to the wine – supple and palate-caressing, yet mouthwateringly refreshing, too, and with just 13.5 percent alcohol.  The Diane Cobb Block Pinot isn’t cheap at $72, and is produced in small quantities -- which is exactly why it’s on my Christmas list.)

On the fifth day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Five golden Rieslings
Four Cobb Pinots
Three Burgundies
Two EuroCaves
And cult-like Screaming Eagle, wowie!

(I adore Riesling, especially the dry, nervy ones.  Several wine competitions at which I judged in 2009 led me to five gold-medal-winning Rieslings, any one of which would be a fine gift, yet why stop there?  Collect them all!  On the crisp, racy side are the 2006 Tierce Dry Riesling and 2008 Anthony Road Semi-Dry Riesling from New York’s Finger Lakes region; 2008 Black Star Farms Arcturos Dry Riesling from Michigan, and the 2008 Eroica Riesling from Washington state’s Columbia Valley, a partnership between Chateau Ste. Michelle and Ernst Loosen.  In the dessert wine category, the 2007 Navarro Cluster Select Late-Harvest Riesling from Anderson Valley in Mendocino County is a stunner, rich and succulent.)

On the sixth day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Six Cabs from Oh-Six
Five gold Rieslings
Four Cobb Pinots
Three Burgundies
Two EuroCaves
And that culty Screaming Eagle, for me!

(Of the California Cabernet Sauvignons I tasted this year, six from 2006 stood out: the powerful Dominus Napa Valley; the suave, modern Staglin Rutherford Napa Valley; Chappellet’s Signature Napa Valley, the epitome of balance and at a reasonable (for Napa) price; the age-worthy Corison Napa Valley; the deep yet fresh-tasting Ramey Annum Napa Valley; and the intense Justin Isoceles from Paso Robles.)

On the seventh day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Seven SBs a-swimming
Six Cabs from Oh-Six
Five gold Rieslings
Four Cobb Pinots
Three Burgundies
Two EuroCaves
And a Screaming Eagle wine, whoo-wee!

(OK, so Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t swim, but it floats my boat and refreshes as efficiently as a dip in the pool.  The varietal is bashed by some critics, yet it’s a great quaff and a fine accompaniment to many foods, including salads, vegetable dishes and seafood.  Seven Cali brands to count on: Brander, Capture, Geyser Peak, Kelley & Young, Merry Edwards, Rancho Zabaco Reserve and St. Supery).

On the eighth day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Eight Merlots a-smoking
Seven SBs a-swimming
Six Cabs from Oh-Six
Five gold Rieslings
Four Cobb Pinots
Three Burgundies
Two EuroCaves
And a Screaming Eagle Cab, tee hee!

(Merlot has had a rough go since that Pinot Noir-centric film came out a few years ago.  True, there were too many unripe, weedy, trend-chasing Merlots made in the United States in the early 2000s, yet today, the strong have survived, the weak have turned to selling cheap, hollow Pinot Noir, and the best producers continue to bottle supple Merlots that anyone can love.  Amuse Bouche, Duckhorn, Pride Mountain and Twomey in Napa Valley; Leonetti, Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills in Washington state, and Fox Run Vineyards in New York’s Finger Lakes region, are among the wineries whose Merlots offer a slightly softer side of the Bordeaux red-grape world.) 

On the ninth day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Nine Chards so charming
Eight Merlots a-smoking
Seven SBs a-swimming
Six Cabs from Oh-Six
Five gold Rieslings
Four Cobb Pinots
Three Burgundies
Two EuroCaves
And Screaming Eagle Cab, oui, oui!

(I’m finicky about California Chardonnay -- not a fan of unoaked versions, which taste simple and hollow, nor of over-oaked, buttery monsters.  I’m Goldilocks in brown hair, seeking Chardonnay that is just right -- balanced in ripe fruit, leesy complexity, oak spice, mouth-filling texture and bracing acidity, without overt toastiness and soft malolactic butter character.  Nine Chards I would be honored to receive this Christmas include: Alma Rosa El Jabali Santa Rita Hills; Benovia Russian River Valley; Carmel Road Arroyo Seco; Dutton-Goldfield Rued Vineyard Russian River Valley; Freestone Vineyards Pastorale Sonoma Coast; Gargiulo Vineyards Wood Ranch Rutherford; Pelligrini Olivet Lane Vineyard Russian River Valley; Ramey Hyde Vineyard Carneros; and Sbragia Home Ranch Dry Creek Valley.)

On the 10th day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Ten corks a-popping
Nine Chards so charming
Eight Merlots a-smoking
Seven SBs a-swimming
Six Cabs from Oh-Six
Five gold Rieslings
Four Cobb Pinots
Three Burgundies
Two EuroCaves
And Screaming Eagle Cab, who, me?

(I love Champagne but hate paying so much for it -- and I wouldn’t want my true love spending money on French fizz when he could be saving for that 3-liter of Screaming Eagle.  Serious sparklers costing far less than Champagne include: Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, Mumm Napa Brut Prestige and Domaine Carneros Cuvee de la Pompadour Brut Rosé from Napa Valley; Roederer Estate Brut and Scharffenberger Brut Rosé from Anderson Valley; Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blancs and Korbel Brut Rosé from Sonoma County; Domaine St. Michelle Blanc de Blancs from Washington state; Greg Norman Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay from Australia; and from Virginia, Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay.  All are worth a search.)

On the 11th day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Eleven pipers piping
Ten corks a-popping
Nine Chards so charming
Eight Merlots a-smoking
Seven SBs a-swimming
Six Cabs from Oh-Six
Five gold Rieslings
Four Cobb Pinots
Three Burgundies
Two EuroCaves
And a Screaming Eagle Cab, chi-chi

(I‘m of Scottish decent, as well as Irish and Native American. My mother, her parents, and their parents are/were Scotch drinkers, so pipers and kilts are as much a part of our holiday celebrations as is wine.  Collectively, we’ve progressed over the years, from Cutty Sark, Chivas Regal, Dewar’s and Famous Grouse, to single-malts, including Aberfeldy, Dalmore, Dalwhinnie, Glenlivet, Glenmorangie, Highland Park, and my favorite, Macallan, at any age … though older is better, depending on who is buying).

On the 12th day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
A mixed case of wines, sans Scream
While I won’t get a new car
Or health insurance comfy,
I get to drink great wine, lucky me...