Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to try many wines from around the world, in many different styles. Out of my recommendations from the year, here are my picks that I think will make the holiday season more festive. I tried to pick wines from most price points and all corners of the world. I also only picked wines I actually tried. I know there are other wonderful wines out there, but I had to try it this year, as wines from each vintage can be different. Enjoy and Happy Holidays.
- Moet & Chandon Imperial NV, France ($65.49) – Dry and creamy on the palate with high acidity that bites your tongue followed by citrus and toasted flavours.
Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial NV, France ($71.99) – Off dry (demi sec) with very light light creamy bubbles. Citrus with a hint of orange and some herbal/green tones. Although I am not a fan of sweeter wines, I quite enjoyed this champagne.
- Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve, NV, France ($69.95) – Hazelnuts and bread on the nose. I quite liked enjoying the aroma of this wine. Quite complex flavours with hazelnuts and yeast up front. Citrus on the mid palate. Tiny, soft bubbles on your tongue.
- Grey Monk Estate Winery Odyssey White Brut 2011, BC ($24.99). This sparkler is made with Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay Musque, and Riesling grapes. Very light bread and white peach aromas. Light creamy bubbles with a waxy edge, citrus flavour. Dry and elegant.
- Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Sofia Blanc de Blanc, California 2011. This sparkling wine is fun in the glass. I really enjoyed it, and bought some to share with friends. It is made in part with the Muscat grape, which always gives you a nice orangy aroma and flavour in the glass. This wine was no exception. Orange and stone fruit on the nose. High acidity with aggressive bubbles. Off dry. Rose petals, orange, and stone fruit flavours.
- Perseus Winery Gewurztraminer 2012 ($17.99) – Nice nose showing red delicious apples, lychee, citrus, and a hint of sweet cherries. Dry with medium acidity and lighter body. Soft mouth feel with some oily roundness to it. Stone fruit, in particular apricots, apple, citrus, some almond pit, and sweet cherries. With some air, lychee flavour became more apparent. Medium plus length with a mouth watering finish topped with spice and more red delicious apples. Also as the wine warmed up a bit, I also detected some lime and grapefruit flavours. This wine is very good, and should be enjoyed right after opening.
- Barone Montalto Pinot Grigio, 2012, Italy ($10.49) – A pleasant nose with citrus and stone fruit. Very soft mouth feel with medium minus body. Stone fruit with some sweet spice on the mid palate. Lower level of acidity. Very easy to drink.
- Joiefarm En Famile Reserve Chardonnay 2011, BC ($27.90). What can I say about this wine? It was quite amazing as every component of this wine; the fruit, sugar, acidity, and oak were perfectly in balance and totally integrated. Light citrus and stone fruit nose. Dry with light body, tropical fruit flavours and cinnamon spice on the palate.
Lake Breeze Semillon, BC 2012. This is one of my surprise wines. I am a Semillon fan, but not many people know much about the grape. Don’t be afraid of this wine; try it. It has a light peachy nose. Medium minus body, soft and round with peach and citrus flavours.
- Maverick Estate Winery Pinot Gris, BC 2011 ($19.90). A relatively new winery in BC, but the owner, Bertus Albertyn, is a past wine maker for Burrowing Owl in the Okanagan. He hails from South Africa, where the wine style sits comfortably between Old World restraint and New World fruit and vibrancy. I was charmed by this Pinot Gris. It is quite aromatic with stone fruit and a sweet spice edge on the nose. Medium body, round with medium acidity. Stone fruit and peach flavours with a hint of mint. Very tasty.
- SpierHead Pinot Gris, BC 2012. This wine was medium lemon in colour with a light, youthful nose. There was both a bit of lemon and lime aromas, along with stone fruit, and some yeast. The lime aroma became more pronounced after the wine was exposed to air for a while. It is dry with medium body and medium plus acidity. Accompanied with the nice acidity on the tongue I also picked up on some minerality. This wine has layers of fruit flavours, with green fruit and citrus up front, followed by stone fruit, particularly peach. There was also some blossom and honey. On my second day of tasting this wine, lime, pineapple, and red delicious apple flavours popped. Medium plus length with a lifted citrus finish. Buy it before it sells out.
- La Stella Vivace Pinot Grigio, BC 2012. It has a herbal, citrus, and grapefruit skin aromas. Medium minus body, with lots of grapefruit flavour. Good acidity and dry on the palate. I really like this wine.
Cairdeas Nellie Mae Viognier Roussanne, Washington 2011. Flowery, stone fruit nose. High acid, quite fruity with flavours of stone fruit, flowers, honeysuckle, and grapefruit skin.
- Charles Smith Wines, Eve Chardonnay,Columbia Valley, Washington 2011. Charles Smith is known as the “rock star” of Washington state, with bold wines and packaging. The labels have very expressive, very contrasty black and white graphics and text. The Eve Chardonnay had lots of stone fruit and citrus aromas. Medium body, quite round with tasty peach and vanilla flavours. Medium acidity that left your mouth watering on the finish.
- Marimar Estate, Acero Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, California 2009 ($38.99). You will see several entries of Marimar Estate, as I really enjoyed all their wines. Proprietor Marimar Torres is from Spain’s iconic Miguel Torres family. Miramar founded her Russian River winery in 1992, to produce very fine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This chardonnay is stainless steel fermented then undergoes 100% malolactic fermentation (which softens the wine). This wine had a nice clean stonefruit nose. Medium body, round mouth feel, with green pea, herbal, honey suckle and stone fruit flavours. It is very complex in the glass.
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, Oldfield Series Rose 2010, Okanagan Valley, BC. The grapes come from the Black Sage Bench in the Okanagan and only 200 cases of this wine are produced each year. This wine was light coloured with a light red fruit nose. High acid and light body. Off dry with citrus, apple and red cherry flavours.
- Bodega Norton Privada 2010, Argentina ($24.75) – This wine is a blend of 40% Malbec, 30% Merlot, and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. It really was quite opaque ruby in the glass and really coated it when swirled. I picked up blueberries, black and purple fruit, vanilla, dark chcolate and some meatiness on the nose. It really had a nice silky mouth feel and very enjoyable range of flavours including red and black fruit, blueberries, ripe raspberries, red cherries, plums, black currants and vanilla. It also had some nice flowery perfume, and a mineral streak (which was more evident at the start of the sip). It finished with some spiciness and a tannic kick. It has a medium long length.
Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2010, France ($92) – Bright juicy cassis nose. Medium body with fine tannins. Lots of minerality with subtle cherries and some spice. Spice and oak on the finish. An elegant wine.
- Bodega Catena Zapata Alta Malbec, 2011, Argentina – This winery is one of my favourite in Argentina, with a long family history, producing top quality wine. The Alta level is only produced in years when the quality of grapes meet a higher level. Nice ripe dark fruit nose along with sweet spices and vanilla. Full body, flowers, red fruit, cherries and vanilla flavours. Fine tannins with a dry finish. A very pretty wine.
- Bodega Escorihuela 1884 Reservado Syrah, 2012, Argentina – Smoky, chocolate and dark fruit aromas. I quite enjoyed sniffing this wine. Full body, mineral with smoky raspberries, cherries, and dark chocolate on the palate. Firm minus tannins.
- Concha y Toro Terrunyo Carmenere, 2009, Chile ($36.95) – Nice nose, fully of juicy cassis aroma. Dry, medium body, soft mouth feel with more juicy cassis, black cherries and vanilla. Some licorice flavour mid palate to finish. Also chocolate on the finish. Medium minus tannins. Another quality wine from Concha y Toro.
- Black Hills Estate Winery Syrah, BC 2011 ($35). Rich chocolate, black fruit and spice aromas. Medium body but a light mouth feel. Ripe black fruit, milk chocolate and coffee flavours. Quite complex flavour profile. An elegant Syrah.
- Gold Hill Syrah II 2011 ($26.90). Light berry, raspberry nose. Dry with soft tannins and medium acidity. It starts out with licorice then adds blueberries and a light touch of vanilla. Soft finish. A really easy Syrah to sip and enjoy!
- Maverick Estate Rubicon, BC 2011 ($23.90). Bertus Albertyn crossed the Rubicon with this wine and didn’t look back. A wonderful Bordeaux blend, it was nearly opaque ruby in the glass. Medium intensity, restrained aromas of cassis and oak. Very juicy black fruit and cassis followed by vanilla. Dry with soft tannins. Buy it.
Le Vieux Pin Violette Syrah, BC 2011. It has a very pronounced nose with violets, nutmeg, allspice, and red fruit. Medium plus body, with flavours of blueberries, red fruit, red cherries, and violets. Soft tannins with a medium plus length. A very nice, very flavourful wine.
- AnimaLibera Alma3 Rosso, IGT 2007, Tuscany, Italy (39.99). A red blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Montepulciano, and 5% Colorino. Deep ruby in the glass. Nice nose, with ripe red fruit and some oak. Medium minus body, with light mouthfeel. Red fruits and oak. A very elegant red wine.
- Lauren Ashton Cellars Syrah, Washington 2009 (USD$34.99). One of the Syrahs from Taste Washington that I really enjoyed. An inviting nose with dark fruit aromas. Juicy black fruit flavour, together with pepperiness and some minerality to it. Vanilla on the finish.
- Jose Maria Da Fonseca, Periquita Superyor, 2008, Portugal ($44.95). Portugal is one of my wine secrets. They produce some fantastic red wines, at exceptionally reasonable prices. I really like this wine maker, who produces wines at an entry level $17 up to $45 in our BC market. This wine is produced using a native grape called Castelão in the past, but now known as Periquita. Periquita Superyor is a super-premium wine from their old vineyards. Opaque ruby in the glass, with chocolate, cassis, and dark fruit aromas. Full body, plush mouthfeel, medium tannins with lots of ripe dark fruit flavours. Excellent.
- Michael David Winery, Sixth Sense Syrah, Lodi, California 2011. I first became aware of this winery last year when I tried their Petite Petit, a blend of Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot, a really expressive fun wine to drink. The Sixth Sense Syrah had aromas of pepperoni in the glass. Full body, with juicy black fruit and smoked meat. Soft tannins. Fun in a glass.
- Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009. Medium translucent ruby in the glass. Raspberries, cassis, and capsicum aromas. Dry, soft with medium plus body. Capsicum / minty notes with raspberry flavour. Nice.