Tasting Recap – An Eclectic Holiday Sampler

This past week’s tasting featured a variety of wines suitable for upcoming holiday celebrations. Whether white, red or rosé (we love bubbles, too!) the wines were certainly appreciated by those who dropped in for a few tastes. The holidays bring together all sorts of palates, so our selections were geared toward overall accessibility and food appropriate wines, whether for an intimate family gathering or a full-scale party. Ranging in price from the teens to a bit higher end, there was certainly something for everybody. We opened too many wines to recap them all, but here are a few highlights and crowd favorites:

Tollot-Beaut 2006 Bourgogne blanc ($18.95)

Known for a more modern, flashy style, the wines of Tollot-Beaut still hold true to their Burgundian home. This Chardonnay features a bit more new oak to balance out a bright acidity, lemon curd, spice and orchard fruit notes. The texture of this wine is fairly creamy, and as it is a bit aged it has integrated exceptionally well. With a vivid aroma jumping from the glass, this will please old or new world chardonnay drinkiers quite easily. This normally retails for a bit more, as well, making this one of the best values of the tasting.

Philippe Colin 2006 1er Cru “Morgeot” Chassagne-Montrachet ($49.95)

Also at a pretty stellar price, this wine is an absolute steal. To find 1er Cru Chassagne-Montrachet at this price makes us extremely excited, and we hope you take advantage! This wine isn’t as forward as the Tollot-Beaut, but demands a bit more patience as the layers of this wine reveal themselves with each sip. In a more classic Burgundian fashion, we find similar lemon curd and faint orchard fruit notes, less spice but far more mineral and complexity. The acidity and oak are very well integrated and the finish is persistent, taking its sweet time to fade until the next sip. This wine will certainly please any who drink it, and those who think it may not be their fancy may be surprised. One of our favorite additions to the shop.

Marquis Phillips 2008 “Holly’s Blend” Southeastern Australia ($9.95)

Primarily Verdelho (not Verdejo, to note) with a bit of Chardonnay, Riesling and Semillon, this blend is the ultimate winter white. A rich, creamy texture, and acidity that won’t quit and big flavors of stone fruit, dried honey and a bit of petrol. This wine is also 15%abv so a cold winter’s night beware, this is the perfect solution to finding warmth. Verdelho is a wrongfully under-appreciated varietal, so if you’ve never tried it this is your chance. Perhaps the best $10 white we have offered this year!!

Unti 2011 Rosé Dry Creek Valley ($23.95) Just because the forecast shows snow is no reason to forget about dry rosé – there are lots of winter whites to be consumed and rosé deserves it’s place in your home this season. The Unti Rosé is a blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre, offering red fruits, a slight meatiness from the Mourvèdre, and a touch of grip showing the wonderful structure of this wine. The higher acidity of rosé lends it self extremely well as a food pair, and the flavors of this wine will partner with just about anything in your holiday feast. We certainly love our dry rosé, but we are glad to keep sharing it with you for your celebrations this season.

Folk Machine 2011 “Westward Expansion” Pinot Noir, Potter Valley ($29.95)

Winemaker Kenny Likitprakong has emerged as one of California’s most sought-after winemakers, producing wines of an Old World style in some fairly obscure California regions. Whether from the Santa Cruz Mountains (try his Ghostwriter Pinot Noir at $30.95) or from Potter Valley in northern Mendocino, these wines are simply beautiful. Still showing ripe red fruits balanced by vivid acidity, a bit of forest floor and a hint of herbal notes, this is a gorgeous pinot noir. For those who are familiar with these wines, this is a newer production, also featuring three different labels of classic American industry. A simply delicious Pinot Noir.

Valdibella 2011 Nero d’Avola, Sicily ($22.95, 1.5L)

Incredibly smooth with dark red and purple fruits, just a hint of earth and a hint at a chocolate on the finish, this is perhaps the best party wine available. This magnum (two bottles worth) is just over $20 and should accompany you to every party or gathering this season. Nero d’Avola is an indigenous grape to Sicily, once forgotten and now on the rise and the Valdibella shows just how fantastic this grape can be. The acidity is a bit milder here and there is no grip to speak of lending itself to just about any palate it meets. For the price this wine way overdelivers and for the reaction of the other guests as you bring out the biggest bottle at the party, it is priceless. A perfect adornment to any holiday table or for a company party.

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