Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Drinks Part Two - Whites and Bubbles

Well I'm rolling now, in between shopping, wrapping and occasionally working I'm blasting towards shattering 2009's post count.

Last post I spoke of Beer, and Cider, and in this missive I shall discuss some white wines, and sparkling ones, that might be good to have around this holiday season. I don't drink a lot of white wine but when I do I prefer lighter styles and a general easy hand with the wood aging. I only ever drink white wine as an accompaniment to food so acidity is a must, no flabby "oak soup" Cali-Aussie chardonnays for me thank you . I also want a balance and a fullness of flavour so most of the cat-pee sauvignon blancs can be left out as well,

My two fave white wine grapes are Chenin Blanc and Riesling, two grapes which can be made into many varieties and styles of wine, from crisp acidic to full blown fruit and dessert styles. For the purpose of this post I'll stay with the drier end of the spectrum, and I'll step outside the Riesling/Chenin Blanc box as well.

Without further ado here are some white wines, in no particular order, that I enjoy and which would be welcome at any festive occasion:

Chenin Blanc - Spier Signature - South Africa, CSPC#659037, $13.95

Chenin Blanc - Man Vintners - South Africa, CSPC#474197, $9.99

Chenin Blanc, or Steen as the South Africans refer to it, is the most commonly grown white wine grape in South Africa. These are two good examples of the style, dry but with nice, melony, tart apple flavour, good acidity (especially the Spier) and nice long finish.

Vina Esmeralda - Miguel Torres Spain, CSPC#165316, $14.99 - an interesting blend of Muscat and Gewurztraminer this long time fave is medium bodied with a lush fruity nose and "not quite bone dry" taste. It's perfect with spicy foods and can compete with the Christmas bird as well.

Sauvignon Blanc - Brancott New Zealand, CSPC#129528, $15.96 - I know I said sauvignon blanc wasn't top of my list but this bottling isn't as assertive as many other Kiwi SB'. The Brancott is more cut grass than cat pee and it's long clean finish is great with rich foods so it makes the list.

Riesling - Pfaffenheim France, Alsace, CSPC#612127 $17.99 - Alsatian whites are the consumate food wines and this dry Riesling is a great example. Full bodied with fruit tones but great acid plus it's Pfaffenheim and I love to say "Pfaffenheim", really try saying it - it's fun.

Bantam - Red Rooster Winery British Columbia, Naramata Bench CSPC#533216 $13.99 - another blend, this time 6 grapes mostly Pinot Auxererrois. This wine is off dry with pronounced floral aromas and lots of fruit on the palate, it's easy to drink alone, or with the cheese board or mildly spicy foods - pass on it with the turkey though as it lacks the heft to battle with Tom.

Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie - Haut Censy France, Loire CSPC#553602 $14.99 - made with Melon de Bourgogne Muscadet might be the ultimate seafood wine, perfect with oysters or shellfish it is dry, light and refreshing, this bottling is a very good example of the style

Chablis "Champs Royaux" - William Fevre France, Chablis, Burgundy CSPC#25270 $26.99 - sometimes it's ok to splurge at Christmas and for a mere $27 this wine is a classic Chablis, dry, rich and long it reminds us of what Chardonnay can be when not all tarted up - save this one for dinner .

There are a few I've missed but that's a good start and should keep you rolling through the holidays.

Another thing that gets a lot of play over the Holiday season is sparkling wine, either on it's own or mixed with OJ, fruit puree or fruit liqueurs. No matter how you serve it there are lots of reasonably priced bubbly options available. Prosecco is the "hot bubbly" these days but I find it often lacking in acidity so I tend to look to France, Spain and Australia for my sparkling options.

If you are mixing the sparkling with juice/puree whatever I suggest looking at cheaper bottles like Veuve de Vernay Brut from France (#209023, $13.99) or Codorniu Classicao Brut from Spain (503490 $12.99) if you are toasting and want a nice clean bubble I'd look at Australia for the Emeri Pink Moscato (#588392 $16.99) or the traditionally made Seaview Brut (#216333 $16.99) . On another note a fun beverage this time of year is the strawberry infused bubble from Chile Fresita, it's a little too sweet to drink much of but a small glass with chocolate is fun (#299404 $14.95) .

Moving up the price scale I enjoy the Cremant de Bourgogne - Blasons de Bourgogne a sparkling wine from Burgundy that is, to my tatse, every bit as good as most "true Champagne" but half the price, this wine retails for $24.99 (#657742) and is a value at that price.

Anyway, all this typing about wine has made me thirsty so I'm going to sign off - enjoy.

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