Wines for Holiday Feasts - Round Two

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Feasting Whites
 
E. Guigal Côtes Du Rhône Blanc 2010 (Rhone Valley, France) Regular Price $18.25/ Feature Price $15.52
It was a happy day for us when one of our wine distributors picked up the wines of E. Guigal. That’s because this winery, with properties all over the Rhone, makes delicious wines in pure French style and at very reasonable prices. Côtes Du Rhône Blanc is a blend of different white grapes (the proportions vary from year to year, depending on the characteristics of each variety) that would be an excellent addition to any holiday feast. This one is fermented at cold temperatures in stainless steel tanks to bring out the fresh fruit character. It could start the evening with a plate of fine cheeses or you could serve it with the main courses, especially seafood or spicy Asian fare.
 
Talmard Macon-Chardonnay 2010 (Burgundy, France) Regular Price $21.00/ Feature Price $17.85
Chardonnay, FranceChardonnay, FranceThis is another example of the lesson that ordering “white Burgundy” at a restaurant (or at an unknown wine store when you’re traveling far from Wine & Words...& Gourmet) if you just say, “I’d like a nice white Burgundy” you’ll get this elegant style of Chardonnay that’s crisp and bright and not all oaked-up to cover its over-ripeness.
Begun in the 17th century, Domaine Talmard is one of the oldest continuously producing family run wine estates in southern Burgundy. It is also the premier domain in the 1000 year old village of Chardonnay, which is perhaps best known for bestowing its name upon the white grape that has taken over the world. Domaine Talmard’s vineyards thrive on the low, rolling limestone-rich hills that were once the floor of an ancient sea, resulting in classic, dry, mineral-driven wines. Furthermore, only indigenous yeasts are employed in fermentation at this estate, providing the modern wine-drinker with an authentic, original taste of Chardonnay. In keeping with tradition, Philibert and Gérald Talmard skip the oak barrel aging of their wines. They do, however, utilize modern temperature-controlled equipment stainless steel fermentation tanks to allow them to bring out the best of their fruit. This year for the holidays, grace your table with a couple bottles of the original Chardonnay.
 
Chehalem INOX Chardonnay (Willamette Valley, Oregon) Regular Price $21.95/ Feature Price $18.66
Now we travel from the original village of Chardonnay to America’s Pacific Northwest, where the winemakers are discovering that their American terroir is very similar to that of Burgundy. The folks at Chehalem are passionate about the land, the grapes and the winemaking process. They grow cool-climate grapes such as Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay GrapesChardonnay GrapesChardonnay, and they aim for an Old World Elegance using New World technology. This INOX Chardonnay takes its name from the abbreviation of the French word for stainless steel - inoxydable. They use Dijon clone vines to capture the essence of the original European Chardonnay, then they hand-select the grapes at just the perfect level of ripeness. Fermentation is all in stainless steel tanks, at low temperatures, and they forego the malolactic fermentation and lees contact that is used in some places to make a rich, buttery wine. Instead they go for bright fruit flavors that are crisp and refreshing. When we first tasted this wine, there were lots of “oohs and aahs” around the table. It is truly delicious. Nicely done!
 
Feasting Reds
Guigal Côtes Du Rhône Rouge 2007 (Rhone Valley, France) Regular Price $18.25/ Feature Price $15.52
Here’s another Côtes Du Rhône Rouge to add to our stable of these fine feasting wines. And this one is truly fine. We loved it when we tasted it...and the wine press agrees.
 
"The 2007 Cotes du Rhone has finally been released, and Guigal has made his finest Cotes du Rhone to date, all from purchased juice. He and his son told me they go through thousands of samples in order to come up with this cuvee, which is based on 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre, all aged in tank. ...the wine is medium to full-bodied , silky smooth, and a truly delicious, hedonistic and intellectually satisfying wine that is a remarkable bargain."
Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate 90 Points
 
"...the syrah is center stage today. Graceful and focused, with sweet dark fruit and floral pastille flavors that coat the palate. Suave and gently sweet wine, with excellent clarity, length and a lingering floral quality. There will not be a 2008 bottling of this wine because Guigal wasn't happy with the quality of fruit in the southern Rhone. "
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar 90 Points

Don’t miss it!
 
Buissonnier Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise 2009 (Burgundy, France) Regular $21.95/ Feature $18.66
One of those simple “rules” of wine that you have to know if you like French wine is that in Burgundy the whites are usually Chardonnay and the reds are Pinot Noir. This one is from what the winemakers call “off the beaten path” of Burgundy. As far as I can tell, that’s what the “Buissonier” means - something or someone who lives “in the bushes.” Well, we’re always beating the bushes for great wine deals, and this is one. The Côte Chalonnaise is south of the better-known (for Pinot Noir) Côte D’Or and north of the better known (for Chardonnay) Mâconnais. I guess that qualifies as “in the bushes” in Burgundy. This plus the fact that the bottle has the generic Bourgogne on the label instead of one of the individual villages (Mercurey, Rully, Givry) means you get the same kind of multi-village value you get from a Côtes du Rhône Villages rather than a Gigondas or Chateauneuf-du-Pape. 2009 was considered a great vintage in Burgundy, so for around $20 you’re getting a great bottle of one of the world’s best food-pairing wines.
If you’re used to the heavily-oaked and ripe-fruited Pinot Noirs of Central Coast California, this one will be a revelation. It’s light in body, which shows off its beautiful ruby red color, and it has a tang of minerality and acidity that makes your mouth water for another bite of holiday feast.
 
Ben Marco Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina) Regular Price $24.95/ Feature Price $21.21
I keep writing about the usual holiday feasting fare, such as roast turkey, baked ham, sweet potatoes and the like; but what if you’re a fan of a fine roast beast? Where’s the beef? Well, a lot of it is in Argentina, second highest per capita consumption of beef at 54 kg (119 pounds) per person per year. Uruguay, a neighbor on the Pampas, is a very close second; but the US, despite our love of steaks and Macs, is down the list at a puny 37.4 kilos (82 pounds). Which leads us to Malbec, the big purple wine that is winning converts from Americans who’ve loved their big Cabs (including those from Argentina, like the Catena), but find the smooth smokiness of a well-made Malbec hits the same chord.
Pedro Marchevsky & Susana BalboPedro Marchevsky & Susana BalboThis Ben Marco Malbec, made by Mendoza’s winemaking “power couple” - Susana Balbo and Pedro Marchevsky - is top-of-the-line for pairing with a feast of bold flavors. I first Featured it in “Grillin’ & Chillin” in April 2010. In that blog I wrote:
Malbec's tannins are normally far smoother than Cabernet Sauvignon, the fruit flavors are slightly fruitier, and it can be consumed when relatively young, although many higher-quality Malbecs will also age beautifully. The Ben Marco Malbec is mixed with 10% Bonarda, an Italian grape that lightens the fruit flavor. Then it spent 11 months in 50% new French oak and 50% new American oak. Robert Parker of The Wine Advocate gave the wine 90 Points, calling it "round, ripe, medium-bodied, and savory...this layered effort has a lengthy, fruit-filled finish." I say it reminds me of one of the things I like about Counter Culture coffee...you can brew it strong without it biting back. That's what a good Malbec does. It has big fruit, smooth tannins and the punch to go with smoky, meaty flavors but it is very well behaved in your mouth...a big wine that doesn't bite back.
Sound like something you’d pair with your Holiday Beast Feast? Take advantage of the opportunity to taste this beauty, and then lay in a hoard for the hungry hordes.

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