For me the holidays are prefect opportunities to drink the really good bottles I’ve been aging for special occasions. I also seek out extraordinary wines that fulfill my commitment to environmental sustainability and social responsibility. So, for this festive time of entertaining and gift giving, drink well and shop for wines that are responsibly made. These are my wine suggestions for the end of year celebrations -- all sustainably produced, certified biodynamic or organic, and most have social commitments to their workers and communities. These wines pair well with holiday recipes and also make great gifts for hostesses, hosts and wine enthusiasts.
So many different foods make up a holiday feast, whether it’s fish and seafood for an Italian -- American style Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes -- or traditional holiday meals of baked turkey, honey-glazed ham, prime rib, cranberry relish, sweet potatoes and black eye peas for New Year’s Day. Of course, no single wine -- white or red--will pair well with all of these. With that in mind, here are some great choices:
Louis Latour -- Montagny 1er Cru La Grande Roche 2015, Côte Chalonnaise, Burgundy, France (Chardonnay)
J. Lohr Arroyo Vista Chardonnay 2013, Monterey County, California, has pineapple, pear and stone fruit aromas and flavors with roasted coffee and vanilla notes.
Food matches for Chardonnay include:
Japanese-style pork belly
Roast chicken with honey-sesame carrots
Mashed potatoes with butter and cream
An oaked Chardonnay like Robert Mondavi Private Selection Central Coast Chardonnay 2015 pairs well with richer fish dishes, herbed pork rib roast and anything in a cream sauce.
Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc from South Africa is ideal with crayfish or prawns and can be served with full flavored fish; foie gras; charcuterie; pecans and cranberries.
Chateau Ste. Michelle “Eroica” Riesling 2011 from Washington State, a “New World” Riesling, gifted in minerality and stone fruit flavors, can handle everything from salty appetizers to a maple-y glaze on the turkey and varied spicy dishes. Its high acidity will balance all the richness, plus a touch of sweetness to go with the sweet potatoes and cranberry relish.
Grace Estate Winery Viognier 2015 and Cooper Vineyards Viognier 2016, both come from Virginia, where Viognier is the official grape variety of the state. These have classic aromas of honeysuckle and peach with a citrusy finish and pairs well with creamy polenta, but complements mashed or sweet potatoes as well.
And for the Seafood Feast I recommend one of these extraordinary white wines from Sicily, both organic, that pair wonderfully with seafood: COS Zibibbo 2016 or SP68 Bianco 2016. Zibibbo, also known as Muscat of Alexandria, is a white grape variety member of the Muscat family thought to originate from Egypt, specifically from the city of Alexandria (hence the name), and widely planted in the Mediterranean basin, from Spain to Egypt and in Italy grown mainly in Sicily and its islands. The SP68, by Arianna Occhipinti, is composed of Zibibbo and Albanello, another native Sicilian varietal.
Pinot Noir is a traditional favorite for the holidays. Its subtle earthy undertones and fruit features go well with the traditional flavors of turkey and stuffing. The wine’s intense cherry fruit layers nicely with the plummy sweetness of holiday flavors like cranberry, while the wine’s racy acidity and pillowy tannins enrich the intense spices of your menu.
Try These Pinots:
Erath Willamette Valley Estate Selection Pinot Noir 2014
Adelsheim Vineyard Willamette Valley 2015
Maysara Winery Asha Pinot Noir 2012 can pair with dishes that utilize slow braised meats and have complex layers of spices and caramelization, as the mid-palate is overwhelmed with lively acidity. Fruit sourced from Demeter Certified Biodynamic Momtazi Vineyard with low-impact, holistic farming methods, this wine captures the true essence of the soil and the unique accent of the terroir. This philosophy is carried into the cellar, where Demeter Certified Biodynamic winemaking practices produce wines with intensity, sophistication and elegance while maintaining a purity of both fruit and earth. The name of this wine Asha is an ancient Persian word describing one who has a clean conscience for good thoughts, words, and deeds with pure demeanor and performance.
Flowers Sonoma Coast 2015
Seasmoke “Southing” 2015, Santa Barbara, California (biodynamic)
Other reds for your holiday entertaining:
Bodega Colomé Estate Malbec 2014, Argentina (biodynamic), The wines are grown in the highest vineyards in the world (7218-10,207 feet above sea level). The high elevation contributes to the tension in the wines. Tannic, massive and powerful.
Tenuta di Valgiano 30% Sangiovese, 30% Merlot, 30% Syrah and 10% local varieties, Tuscany, Italy (biodynamic) is a fine pairing for Spiced Leg of Lamb with Olives, Apricots and Lemons
Frogs Leap Zinfandel 2013 (organic) Napa Valley, California
Southern Right Pinotage 2017, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, South Africa
Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. These can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes, playing equally well with beef, pork, lamb or game. Grilled steak or sausages, roasted pork and squab are all fine pairings for these:
Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas 2015, Paso Robles, California (Biodynamic)
Domaine du Gour de Chaule Gigondas Cuvée Tradition 2013, Southern Rhône, France (organic). Gigondas is a predominantly Grenache based wine, with Syrah and Mourvèdre
Delas Frères Haute Pierre Châteauneuf du Pape 2009, Rhône, France
Te Mata Bullnose, Syrah 2016, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Chateau Guiraud, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France (organic), 65% Sémillon and 35% Sauvignon Blanc, a dessert wine, also pairs well with Blue Cheese.
Taittinger “Nocturne” Sec, Champagne, France (organic), a change from dry champagne, half Chardonnay and the rest Pinot Noir and Meunier grapes, is fortified with 17 grams of cane sugar, making it smooth and creamy with raisin-y fruit syrup flavors.
WINES FOR NEW YEAR’S CELEBRATIONS
According to popular folklore in the southern US, if these foods are eaten on New Year's Day, they guarantee good luck throughout the year. I believe that pairing with the right wine portends well for a happy and socially responsible new year!
Black-eyed peas represent coins and bring good luck and prosperity. Greens resemble paper money, so collard greens or kale ensure good fortune for the coming year. Pork is considered a sign of positive motion.
For this “good luck” meal enjoy the following wines:
An herbaceous, citrusy glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc will pair with the collard greens. It can handle the spice, and also has a nice grassy, leafy characteristic that will be a nice touch to the earthy collards. Kim Crawford Small Parcels Spitfire Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, can also complement the with Hoppin’ John Salad, made with black eyed peas.
Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs, Carneros, California, pairs well with roasted pork, quail, foie gras, semi-sweet desserts and sweet and savory flavor combinations such as Bourbon pecan pie, buttery sweet potato casserole. Predominantly made from Pinot Noir grapes, a portion of the Pinot Noir is left for 24 hours in contact with the grape skins, producing a light rosé color with enhanced Pinot Noir flavors of red berry, floral notes and light vanilla silkiness. Vin Gris is then added to this lightly Pinot Noir tinted blend to achieve the creamy palate and rosy hue dominant in this wine.
--Simonnet-Febvre Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé, Burgundy, France
--Champagne Fleury, Champagne, France (Biodynamic)
--Jacques Lassaigne Les Vignes De Montgueux Brut Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, France, 100% Chardonnay (Organic)
--Berlucchi Franciacorta Cuvée Brut, Lombardy, Italy (Organic)
--Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace, Blanc de Blancs 100% Pinot Blanc, Alsace, France (Organic).
--Domaine Carneros Brut or Blanc de Blancs, Carneros, California (Organic)
Cheers and the best of luck for a happy and prosperous 2019!!