Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Wine Suggestions

Just a small addition to the previous post -- for a more comprehensive list of Georgia wineries, try the Georgia Wine Country web site. Our own wineries have been encouraging us to "Drink Local," so check them out!

Okay, back to the business at hand. It's the holidays, and people have been asking me about what would be good wines to bring to parties, dinners, or "hide from the in-laws" gatherings (if you're hosting one of those, let me know). This brings up a quandary for us dedicated oenophiles. We want to bring something that's going to impress or at least reinforce those "expert wine person" opinions, but we're only going to get a little bit, so we probably don't want to go into our own cellars unless it's for someone really special. If it's a big party, that means multiple bottles, which then means more expense.

For this kind of wine, I went to two places: Total Wine at Perimeter, which is right near where I work, and to last Thursday's tasting at JavaMonkey, which featured "Go-To" wines that are "reasonable, affordable, and findable," selected by fellow oenophile Dan Browning (see right for blog -- Dan, update the darn thing!).

I got two great Bordeaux from Total Wine, a Chateau Bellevue for around $8 and a Vieux Chateau Grean for around $11. Both were great, medium-bodied and food-friendly wines with good acidity. I also got an old vine Garnacha that wasn't very good due to overbearing ripe fruit and an odd finish (Nostrada).

Now for the JavaMonkey wines:

2006 Saint-Hilaire (Blanquette de Limoux, France):
Citrus with mild yeast, good bubbles
Rating: Good

2007 Basa Blanco (Rueda, Spain): 50% Verdejo, 40% Viera, and 10% Sauvignon Blanc
One of those interesting whites I like, this one has lemony minerality with floral overtones. A nice alternative to boring Chardonnay.
Rating: Very Good

2007 Cycles Gladiator Syrah (Central Coast, California): 87% Syrah, 13% Petite Syrah
Chewy texture and a little smoky, this is one for those roasted holiday meats. Nice currant nose, a little applewood smoky with dark fruit; smooth.
Rating: Very Good
Irony: Cycles Gladiator is banned in Alabama because of the label art. However, both Hubby and I grew up there and think this wine would be a big hit at a Southern barbecue. Click here to see the pictures from when we took "Belle," the CG nymph, on a tour of Alabama's capital.

2006 Estancia Zinfandel (Paso Robles, California):
Cedar-cherry nose; very smooth with nice dark fruit
Rating: Good

2007 Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, California):
Blackberry nose, berry/fruity palate with a little anise/eucalyptus.
Rating: Good to Very Good

2007 Juan Gil Monastrell (Jumilla, Spain):
Funky nose. Caramel on the edge of the palate, fruity in the middle, and some spicy cloves, but a bitter finish.
Rating: Good


Kevin said...

Avalon Napa Cab is always a good value, and especially in a stellar vintage like 2007. Buy it at a local wine shop and get a case discount! Most shops should give between 10 and 15%.

Juan Gil is another perennial winner, especially for carnivores.

This means I need to get a similar post done, so thanks for the idea.

Unknown said...

Hi Cecilia,

Thanks for your continued support of Cycles Gladiator. Happy holidays!

Brandye Alexander
Hahn Family Wines

Dan said...

Forgot to do this sooner - but thanks for the review! Here are a couple of other options I'd recommend (and would have chosen, but for the limitations of the distributors with whom JavaMonkey does business):

Liberty School Paso Robles Cabernet
J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet or Los Osos Merlot
Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel

Naia Verdejo
Las Brisas Rueda

Any of the above can be readily had for under $15 retail, and all are solid performers.