Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Christmas Case - Part one

So rather than go through a litany of all the wines I liked this year I thought what I would do is send myself on a virtual trip to the BCLDB and pick up a case of wine for the holiday season. My goal was to grab a dozen bottles for Christmas dinner, Christmas morning and everyday holiday drinking, I gave myself a budget of $200 and was surprised at how easy it was to come in under budget. I was actually able to grab thirteen bottles, a baker's dozen, and still end up with change in my pocket.

The case consists of three white wines, a bottle of bubble, two bottles of "stickies" and seven bottles of red so you can easily mix and match if you drink more white by doubling up on one of the whites and dropping a red, or sticky. Without further ado here is the Christmas Case 2011 Part One - Bubble, Whites and Stickies

Veuve de Vernay Blancs de Blanc, Brut, France is a great everyday bubble, nice balance, good clean flavours and works well on its' own or with OJ on Christmas morning, as it is consumed in my house. It is widely available and retails for $13.99.
Big House White, California is an homage to the fragrant light bodied white wines of the Friuli region in Italy, but better value than the wines it imitates. This wine is a blend of Malvasia Bianco, Muscat Canelli, Viognier and Gruner Vetliner and thus has an inherent fruitiness and floral quality to it, it pairs well with spicy foods, like my crab dip, and is sort of like Cunundrum Light for those of you familiar with the Godfather of Californian fragrant white blends. It's in good supply and a steal at $11.99.
Frisk, Prickly Riesling, Australia is another slightly off dry white, perfect for rich or spicy holiday bites. From the cool climate Alpine valleys of the Victoria region this wine tastes like $14 German Rieslings used to taste but now to get this quality out of the "Old World" will cost you $20. The wine has lots of floral notes and great citrus flavours with the great bracing acidity you want from Riesling and just a touch of tingle, the frisky part, on the tongue. Excellent value at $13.99 and in good supply.
Spier Chenin Blanc, Signature, South Africa after Riesling Chenin Blanc is certainly my favourite white wine grape and like Riesling it can be made in many manners. In South Africa Chenin Blanc, or Steen as it is referred to, is the "worker bee" white grape. This example from Stellenbosch region is classic South African Chenin Blanc, tons of fruit in the nose and pale green/gold in colour the wine has crisp acidity, notes of peach and kiwi and a touch of vanilla on the finish. This would work nicely with the Christmas turkey, it's only $12.95 but supply is spotty.
Vina Errazuriz, Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Chile the first of our "stickies" is an old favourite from Chile, a late harvest wine made primarily from Sauvignon Blanc grapes that have experienced "noble rot" and late picked Gewurztraminer.The incredible heat before the rot sets in produces very high sugar levels so the wine was able to achieve over 11.5% alcohol while still remaining sweet. The nose is fragrant with honey, apricot and candied lemon and the mouthfeel is big and rich with apricot tart flavours. The wine is not at all cloying but is rich in mouth feel with a long finish, perfect with creme brulee or the holiday baked goods, it's a tremendous value at $13.99 for a 375ml bottle and has reasonable distribution.
Taylor-Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port2003/04, Portugal this is for the cheese plate, or if you are lucky enough to have real Christmas pudding with dinner. Originally conceived as an alternative to vintage port for the restaurateur, LBV offers a wine with more complexity and concentration than the younger Reserve ports and Taylor-Fladgate were the first port house to label their wines with the Late Bottled Vintage designation . The wine has a deep purple colour and an aroma of raisins, bitter chocolate and spice box, the flavours are rich with plums,dried cherry , more chocolate and vanilla the tannins are still in force so a half hour to breathe is a good idea . Good value at $15.99 and well distributed in the lower mainland.

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