Four choices for Christmas wine 2016 to help you enjoy the holiday
Suggestions for Christmas wine 2016 – either for a last-minute gift for a wine person, or to drink with all those upcoming holiday dinners and leftovers. As always, keep our wine gift giving tips in mind:
• Farnese Fantini Rose 2015 ($10, purchased, 13%): An Italian pink wine that is fruity (very red cherry) and fresh. It’s not quite in the New World style, but it’s not quite Provencal, either. Very nicely done, and the sort of wine to enjoy at a holiday party and marvel at its cost and quality.
• Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc Les Sétilles 2013 ($22, purchased, 12.5%): Top-quality white Burgundy (made with chardonnay) at a remarkable price and that has all the things it should have — apple fruit, white pepper, that certain amount of oak. This wine is still young and a little tight, making it a fine value if you want to buy a couple of bottles to hold, either as a gift or for yourself.
• Campo Viejo Cava Gran Brut Rosé NV ($10, sample, 12%): This grocery store Spanish sparkler can be inconsistent, but this bottle was everything I hoped for – varietally correct, tight bubbles, and fresh, cherryish fruit. A nice value, whether you want an aperitif or something to toast with.
• Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant 2012 ($45, purchased, 13.5%): This California Rhone-style blend from the irrepressible Randall Grahm shows why his wines are so interesting. It’s both earthy and refined, for one thing, with a wonderful foresty aroma and dark but not forbidding fruit. Plus, it will age for at least another decade, and get even more intriguing as it does. Highly recommended. If you know someone who wants to venture outside of their California cabernet sauvignon comfort zone, give them this.
Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month.
• Eden Ridge Chardonnay 2013 ($13, sample, 14.5%): This California white shows everything that is wrong-headed about premiumization – $7 or $8 worth of wine that costs one-third more. It’s hot, with an alcoholic tang; stemmy and bitter; doused with oak; and without all that much fruit.
• Campo Viejo Rioja 2014: ($10, purchased, 13%): Spanish red made with tempranillo that proves not all Spanish wine is a great value. It’s grocery store plonk that tastes about as Spanish as a glass of water, with sweet fruit and too much oak.
• Bonny Doon Gravitas 2014 ($16, purchased, 13.5%): Proper white Bordeaux channeled through California, so brighter citrus fruit, less flinty, and a little rounder, but still delicious. The difference between this wine and the first two is so vast that it’s difficult to put into words.
• Planeta Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2014 ($20, purchased, 13%): This red blend from one of my favorite Sicilian producers was sadly disappointing. Though it’s well made, with red fruit and some spice, there’s not enough going on for what it cost: Not complex enough, with almost no finish; not enough Sicilian dark fruit; and not earthy enough.
Reviews of wines that don ?t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month. This month, four wine reviews for the price of one — how much more Black Friday wine can you get?
? Marqu s de C ceres Rioja Reserva 2009 ($18, sample, 13.5%): Spanish red from the Rioja region is terrific value, especially since it’s probably much cheaper in most supermarkets. True reserva tempranillo, with integrated oak and tart cherry fruit, and not just a fruitier version of the entry-level crianza.
? Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva 2009 ($14, sample, 13.5%): This Spanish red, like the Caceres from one of the country’s biggest producers, is also much better more enjoyable than its crianza, though not as well-rounded as the Caceres reserva.
? Gianni Masciarelli Villa Gemma 2013 ($17, sample, 13.5%): This Italian white, made with two little known Italian grapes and a splash of chardonnay, is heavier and richer than I expected, with white pepper and only a little white fruit. Having said this, it’s an intriguing wine that needs food (chicken in a wine sauce?) and should improve with age.
? Georges Dub uf Beaujolais-Villages 2013 ($9, purchased, 13.5%): Surprisingly acceptable French red, given how disappointing so much Beaujolais is these days. A little rustic, even though it’s an older vintage, but varietally correct, grapy and fresh.