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3 Reasons Why We Drink White Wine – in Winter

Few think of white wines as a winning choice any time of year, let alone now in the heart of winter here in New England. Red wine somehow seems the natural way to soothe the impact of the cold, dark days we experience.

In fact, once we shed our own similar inclinations, we discovered a surprisingly wonderful coping mechanism.

Here’s why adding white wine to your repertoire right now will help assuage your winter woes:
 

1.   Dry Air Begs for a Palate Pick-Me-Up

If you’re like us, you’re heading for the water cooler on the regular. Nothing seems to quench your thirst. Guess what? Many white wines can. Add a little zip to your regularly scheduled wine-down and you can refresh your taste buds (and your spirits) with the natural burst of mouthwatering acidity whites are best known.

 

2.    Hearty Fare Hearts Robust Wines

The importance of texture should not be underestimated either. Just as you reach for that soft, cozy blanket to wrap yourself up in, many white wine styles offer the same satisfaction. Here we're talking about wines that have a touch of heft, and can be deemed oily, or fleshy.

Why?

Robust whites complement the weight of heartier fare. Think Chowder or thicker soups like pumpkin, cauliflower, butternut squash, etc. Gratin potatoes. A tangy, goat-cheese quiche. Monkfish or Swordfish. Chicken casserole. Even an old-school (or re-imagined, newer school) Mac & Cheese.

You get the idea. Just be sure the weightier wine you select also has that essential acidity we talked about above, too. You’ll need that element to cut through the fat of such bold dishes.

 

3.   Winter Helps Ensure Whites are Enjoyed at the Right Temp

One guest at an event we hosted said oh-so-sagely, he feels “whites have to work harder to woo” him. When he tasted the white wine flight we had curated, he mused at how much more depth the wines had – he could taste their nuance.

So often whites are served way too cold. Whites show more layers of aromas and flavors when they are served at the ideal 50ish degrees Fahrenheit. And in New England many of us are blessed with enclosed vestibules or unfinished cellars that naturally ensure wines are stored, and then easily served, at the right temp. You don’t have to fuss with the fridge. Nature works to your logistical advantage. Meanwhile you’re able to discover what so many whites really have to offer.

 

Certainly white wine is a huge category, just as red wine is. The winter simply proves an unsuspecting time to explore the possibilities.

Satiate your cravings for comfort food, resuscitate your senses and otherwise bring life back to your body and soul by giving whites the chance they deserve this winter!

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Wine Pairs with Pop Tarts - and 6 other "cool" Back 2 School foods

Why should kids get to enjoy all the fun and excitement of back-2-school?!

Quite certainly, adults need a playground, too - one where play leads to innovation and reward.... If you are an event planner, conference/meeting "junkie", or just OITW (out in the world) you know that from cronuts to gourmet grilled cheese and everything in between, Chefs are having a blast in the ever-evolving, no-holds-barred 20Teens playground. The more kooky or 'old school classic', the greater the delighting riff for foodies and the casual consumer alike.

Whether an individual trend is coming (donuts, cronuts and Pop Tarts) or going (cupcakes!), wine has been around for 12 THOUSAND years. It has outlived every up and down - and it continues to find its place in our hearts.

Here are 7 Worthy Wine Pairings not only to get you through the first full week back to school, but that give you key street cred as you and your tastebuds get throttled into Hipdom!

Monday

Classic Peanut Butter & Grape Jelly: Festive and fruity Lambrusco

Gourmet Peanut Butter & Apricot Jam: Exotic and spiced Gewurtztraminer

Tuesday

Ants on a Log: Sassy, grassy Gruner Veltliner

Wednesday

Apple Cider Donuts: Appley, Pear-y, bright and lactic White Burgundy

Thursday

Sarma Pistachio Pop Tarts: Fleshy and zippy Spanish Albarino

Friday

Poutine: Gamey yet silky Cotes du Rhone Rouge

Saturday

Gourmet "Spanish Fig & Olive" Grilled Cheese, w/ grated Manchego cheese: bold yet refined Priorat or Montsant red

Sunday

Reinvented "BLT", aka zucchini latke, heirloom tomato and sweet corn custard w/bacon vinaigrette ~ Rustic and charming Nebbiolo

And, guess what?! These suggested wine pairings are just a starting point. There are many other fun directions to take, too. With wine, the options can be endless. So get out on the playground and start swinging!

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12 Ways to Stay Ho-ho-Happy this Holiday Season: Pour Favor’s 12 Wines of Christmas!

For some people it’s all about getting through the holidays. Others embrace the season with aplomb. For wine lovers, it doesn’t matter which camp you fall into! Wine served is a life lived well. One of our clients couldn’t have agreed more, inviting us to consult on some holiday wine selections for them. The line-up was so worthy, we thought we would impart a little Christmas cheer by sharing with you, too! And so we bring to you Pour Favor’s 12 Wines of Christmas. Consider the holidays saved!

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me gentle rosé bubbles! Domaine Robert Serol’s “Turbullent” vin rose festif et petillant is as festive, lively and lovely as it sounds, featuring 100% Gamay. It’s earthy yet bright, red-fruited nature combined with just a touch of effervescence is the perfect thing to get you in the holiday spirit. Pop cork, trim tree!

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me single vineyard Carmenere and gentle rosé bubbles! Oveja Negra’s Maule Valley single vineyard Carmenere is one of our favorite single-varietal wines of the year. Robust and pure, this dark, smooth and brooding yet lifted wine is buoyed by Chilean earth and finishes with a dark chocolate espresso note. Sip and savor with the homemade fudge your neighbor dropped by – and relish looking at your trimmed tree.

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me Cali Grignolino(?!), single vineyard Carmenere and gentle rosé bubbles! ‘Tis always the season to embrace the wierdos, and Heitz Cellar’s Napa Grignolino is certainly that - until we saw/tasted this wine we didn’t know they were even cultivating this grape in California, one traditionally grown (in limited quantities) in Piedmont, Italy. After last night’s fudge fest, you’ll relish this charming, lighter-bodied, silky, slightly fertile wine with baking spices on the finish. Put out the bowl of imported strawberries and dive in!

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me Muri-Gries Mueller-Thurgau, Cali Grignolino(?!), single vineyard Carmenere and gentle rosé bubbles! A Riesling and Sylvaner hybrid grape, Mueller Thurgau is a gift in and of itself as opulent freshness is buoyed by all the main apple varieties - red, yellow and even tart green – and a thrilling herbal component comes into play. Tough day wrapping up projects at work before the end of the year? No worries! This killer white will tickle your tinsel-time fancy!

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me Montecucco Sangiovese, Muri-Gries Mueller-Thurgau, Cali Grignolino(?!), single vineyard Carmenere and gentle rosé bubbles! With just one week ‘til Santa is nigh you’ll need something with power and elegance to give you a mental timeout while you start wrapping presents. Sink your teeth into Campi Nuovi’s Montecucc Sangiovese and call it done! This unfiltered, organic certified wine is Old World bliss: blackberry and cherry tang are composed by worn leather and fresh earth. You’ll be mid-bow-tying and having a ‘damn! That’s good’ moment. Promise.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me awesome Austrian Pinot Noir, Montecucco Sangiovese, Muri-Gries Mueller-Thurgau, Cali Grignolino(?!), single vineyard Carmenere and gentle rosé bubbles! After all that wrapping you’re thinking how much you’ve spent this month and wondering how you’re going to keep drinking well without breaking the bank. Enter Johanneshof Reinisch Pinot Noir. We’ll let this one speak for itself. It’s that good!

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me limited Napa Cab Franc, awesome Austrian Pinot Noir, Montecucco Sangiovese, Muri-Gries Mueller-Thurgau, Cali Grignolino(?!), single vineyard Carmenere and gentle rosé bubbles! Tonight you’re ordering pizza and uncorking a really special bottle to enjoy all on your own (partner optional). You’re so excited about it you even have the presence of mind to uncork before you head out the door to work. And why wouldn’t you be? Only 3 barrels of Hendry Blocks 9D & 26 Napa Cabernet Franc were made – and your true love was lucky enough to score one and smart enough to squirrel it away for you. Tonight Christmas comes early!

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me the best rosé in the world, limited Napa Cab Franc, awesome Austrian Pinot Noir, Montecucco Sangiovese, Muri-Gries Mueller-Thurgau, Cali Grignolino(?!), single vineyard Carmenere and gentle rosé bubbles! Tavel from the Rhone could rival Provence for historic rosé recognition. Here we are talking about wines that are outstanding when fresh, and mesmerizing when they have a little bit of age on them. Chateau d'Aqueria hits the genre out of the vineyard with a generous, winter-ready body, mineral-rich purity, lovely flowers (violets and roses alike) and a light spice note. Get out your charcuterie board and call it a casual night in while the family comes over the river and the through the woods to your house.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me Bordeaux, the best rosé in the world, limited Napa Cab Franc, awesome Austrian Pinot Noir, Montecucco Sangiovese, Muri-Gries Mueller-Thurgau, Cali Grignolino(?!), single vineyard Carmenere and gentle rosé bubbles! It’s now Sunday night and you’ve been cultivating your beef stew in the slow-cooker all day while you were out doing last minute stocking-stuffer shopping. Fortunately you’re true love knew a good Bordeaux would be the perfect match! Chateau Bourbon la Chapelle offers all of the flinty magic of the Médoc, with graphite and tea adding interest to an otherwise pretty, black-fruited wine that’s not weighed down by wood-aging. Could Santa be your true love?!

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me a crazy Spanish red, Bordeaux, the best rosé in the world, limited Napa Cab Franc, awesome Austrian Pinot Noir, Montecucco Sangiovese, Muri-Gries Mueller-Thurgau, Cali Grignolino(?!), single vineyard Carmenere and gentle rosé bubbles! We all know Santa makes it to all ends of the earth on his sled, so it’s only natural to channel his exploration sensibilities this time of year. Anima Negra’s AN2 is mesmerizing, kind of like Rudolph’s nose. Hailing from Majorca, Spain, you don't see these too often, either! A blend of Callet, Mantonegre-Fogoneu and Syrah grapes it opens with floral aromas, and graces the palate with ripe, round red raspberry fruit flavors. It is refreshing yet firm, soft but juicy. It says, “Snuggle up to that roaring fire with me in your glass!”

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me White Burgundy, a crazy Spanish red, Bordeaux, the best rosé in the world, limited Napa Cab Franc, awesome Austrian Pinot Noir, Montecucco Sangiovese, Muri-Gries Mueller-Thurgau, Cali Grignolino(?!), single vineyard Carmenere and gentle rosé bubbles! For us seeing the Sugar Plum Fairy’s solo is a highlight to beheld this time of year – her grace, elegance and memorable strength and presence can’t be beat. The wine equivalent of this experience is Domaine Bachelet-Monnot’s Bourgogne blanc. Christmas Eve you’ll want to bring out something this magical. Uncork and hear the bells!

On the twelth day of Christmas my true love gave to me sexy Nebbiolo, White Burgundy, a crazy Spanish red, Bordeaux, the best rosé in the world, limited Napa Cab Franc, awesome Austrian Pinot Noir, Montecucco Sangiovese, Muri-Gries Mueller-Thurgau, Cali Grignolino(?!), single vineyard Carmenere and gentle rosé bubbles! Christmas can’t come without Nebbiolo being in the mix. And while many gravitate first (among the elite Piedmontese styles) to Barolo, our heart is aflutter with the more feminine Barbaresco. Ca’ del Baio’s revered cru “Asili” vineyard Barbaresco is one of our favorites in particular, offering pedigree (fine tannins and varietal zip) and panache as mulled cherry notes meet herbal lift in a generous and open package. Merriment indeed!

And with that, we wish you Happy Holidays from all of us at Pour Favor!

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nuance and panache via Elyse Vineyards

Here in Boston we often find that in the (unofficial) 'Winemaking Philosophy School' domestic producers come down on one or the other side of the Old vs. New World style line. California producers who want to be know for producing "cleaner" (read: more subtly oaked, or unoaked), less "tropical" white wines and/or producing "cleaner" (less chocolatey) or alcoholic reds often describe their approach as more Old World. Sometimes they'll even get more specific, too, such that if they are focusing on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, they are shooting for a more Burgundian (France) approach; if they are focusing on Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc or the like, they will tell you they are inspired by Bordeaux (France) reds; and likewise if they are focusing on Syrah, Grenache and the like, they will tell you Rhone (France) wines are their inspiration. New World wines can strike a middle ground, where the fruit is forward and full, but not so much so as to hide any other nuances.  This style is just a lot harder to find.

This week we had the pleasure of revisiting the well-known, highly regarded wines of Elyse Vineyards with the understated Winemaker/Owner Ray Coursen guiding us through his ample lineup. The elegance and distinction of his wines (among an elite list of colleagues - we also happened to have the pleasure of tasting Burgess wines earlier that day) spoke for themselves, with his Rhone-focused reds displaying an almost unheard of level of refinement and elegance, with a surprising lighter body (relatively speaking) and a lower alcohol level than the heavy-handed Grenache grape (in and of its own genetic makeup) is known. The nuances of smoked meats and charcuterie stole the show - and brought back to discussion the impact of terroir in California.

We've agreed amongst ourselves informally that the popular alcohol bombs of the 1990s were delicious enough at the time, but took their toll on you physically. But we hadn't heard a domestic producer weigh in on the topic recently. Interestingly, Ray offered up his perspective on alcohol levels at the outset - and it was fascinating. This man is NOT, by any stretch of the imagination, working with grape varietals that are not a huge challenge to keep at moderate levels of alcohol. (And especially during the heyday of Robert Parker reviews (1990s), big, extracted wines were what the market was after; given the growing conditions and winemaking practices of the time, it was easy enough to offer up the goods accordingly.)

Ray said he and his crew got to the point where they didn't want to drink their own wines everyday - they had worn them out because they were just so big, so high octane. Over the years it was just too much. In the last few vintages they've made the decision to simply apply a lighter hand. And the savory/elegant tension is outstanding!

Ray's Zin's continue to be flagship wines, for sure, but if you want to be enchanted for enchantment's sake seek out the Elyse Le Corbeau Hudson Vineyard (Rhone red). This largely Grenache-based wine (with a dash of Syrah and Viognier) has a surprising Burgundian appeal (yep! That's French Pinot Noir I'm talking about). The nose offers up black cherry fruit and a large yet refined helping of charcuterie. Lovely and floral, it is earthy and pure, clean yet spicey, both black and red fruited - and best of all, it is feminine and lithe (3% Viognier goes a long way).

For slightly less dough you could also try the Rhone-inspired Elyse C'est si Bon. It delivers more robust fruit, a welcome kick of spice, more of that surprising smoked meat nuance as well as blueberry and black fruits, raspberry and even a little bit of strawberry leaf earth. It is surprisingly lighter bodied for how profound the fruit is. It is another complex wine with hits of Burgundy from Elyse - that will leave you waxing poetic.

If you prefer whites, Ray has something for you, too: the Elyse Sonoma Chardonnay. This is a wine with incredible balance and refinement with an awesome, easy-going approach. Gentle nutmeg spice complements the melon and Meyer lemon flavors on entry and the more tropical fruit notes on the finish. This is a pretty, delicious, memorable vin.

These are just a few notes from the ample line-up we tasted - and there wasn't a bad one in the bunch! If we saw more of this approach coming out of California, suffice to say, we'd be spoiled rotten. Giddy-up!

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thanksgiving wine ideas

For Thanksgiving you often think of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris as "perfect" pairings. And in fact, those are the varietals that I almost always seek out for the big day in part because they are such a good match but also because it is an 'excuse' to spend the bigger bucks on a great red Burgundy or some incredible Alsatian PG. But Thanksgiving really is an open-ended wine pairing holiday. Like chicken, turkey offers a clean slate. It's like the tofu of the meat world; it's something that needs dressing up to have a real identity. As such, wine pairing is more about all the sides you are going to prepare - cranberry sauce, earthy root vegetables like brussel sprouts or creamed white onions, or sweet potatoes, or your mother's fruit salad (with marshmallows) that you have every year because it's "tradition". Yes, the Pinot family can take the fun on home with sides like these. But the world really is your oyster!

Here are a few other ideas to consider - and when I say consider, I mean who all is coming to dinner, what their preferences might be and how to keep everyone happy (sometimes the real objective at your holiday gathering)....

Whites  ~

White Burgundy, or the more affordable alternative, Macon Chardonnay. The thing about these wines is that Burgundy (and the surround areas where you can spend a few less dollars) offers a full, fleshy and fruit-forward experience that won't weigh you down. They are gently oaked wonders, which means that you can still bring Chardonnay (a familiar grape) to the table without bringing a bottle of buttery, wooded, BIG juice, that won't quite work with such a big meal. Clean, pure, fruit and citrus lift are a winning combination.

Albarino. Albarino is an incredibly versatile option that will pair with anything. Its low alcohol, terrific, sea-like minerality and bright acidity keep your guests, and your overindulgence, in check, and also offers a little something unique and enjoyable beyond "the usual suspects". While gaining in popularity, it is still a grape that not everyone knows. Few are likely to have a preconceived notion of what to expect - and whether they will like it or not. Chances are - they will, too.

Reds ~

Malbec. Now this is a grape that people know and tend to have only very positive feelings about! And, it is also a grape that won't over-power the turkey and will certainly complement the earthier fare on your table. Seek out fruit forward, earthier styles (as opposed to the chocolatey, rich ones) for a real treat.

Zinfandel. Zin can be tricky because so many of them are so high in alcohol. That is dangerous both on an over-consumption level and also because it really can weigh you down. The juicy sweetness and slightly earthy nuance on offer (in great Zin) certainly pairs with the cranberry sauce. But for the Thanksgiving table that runs the 'non traditional' gamut in particular by delivering an Italian feast (and yet for folks that want a truly "American" wine to pair), this is an option to consider. My recommendation? In this case, spend the extra bucks to get a really well-made, more nuanced wine.

What will you be drinking next Thursday?

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For the love of...Chablis!

What a rewarding surprise to find when you Google “Chablis” you are not taken to the homepage of Gallo, purveyors of a California white jug wine that is responsible for an overwhelming misconception of what Chablis actually is: a winemaking village in France’s well-regarded Burgundy region. And when you get down to the particulars of what the wine is, we’re talking about a refined, unoaked Chardonnay with a tremendous spine of minerality unique to the region itself. Chardonnay? Yes. This, the world’s most recognized white wine grape, has its roots in Burgundy, no pun intended, where they focus on drawing out the natural flavors of the grape itself. On this July 4th weekend holiday, get ready to relish a bit of something super special! Pop over to Wicked Local to get the skinny on this special "take" on Chard.

When you hear "Chablis" what do you think of first?

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Juicy fooder to whet your wine whistle over the 4th!

This week the bloggosphere has been uncorking juicy tidbits left and right. And since we all need a bit of levity over a holiday weekend (or anticipation on one on a Friday), here are some of my favorites: Dr. Vino doesn't hold back at all with this week's Sipped & Spit line-up. Bordeaux, Grateful Palate banter, Bourgogne Blanc and Brews.... Sit back and be entertained!

Next week we'll be adding some wine knowledge to your week over at Wicked Local. In anticipation of that article, check out this entertaining banter on the obscure Melon Queue Rouge varietal. Chardonnay? Or something else? Have you ever encountered it before?

While you consider your response to the above question, sip on this fine suggestion from Deb Harkness. She has your back (and BBQ needs) covered this Fourth of July weekend. Independence from decision-making = Happiness!

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Respect the grape: Chardonnay

Chardonnay gets a bad rep. Some people seem to find it too mundane. Others complain about the over-oaked Chards that used to dominate the domestic market. You know things are really bad when somewhere along the way a “group” called the ABC’s came into being (Anything BUT Chardonnay). But such hate is not just unbecoming, it’s also unnecessary. Pop over to Wicked Local today to get a fresh take on this highly "controversial" varietal! Are you a Chard lover - or hater?

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2007 Burgundy: a challenging vintage

The Domaine Perdrix Echezeaux Grand Cru (Pinot Noir) was one of my favorites...Like the growers champagne tasting I attended in December, the ones I make a real point to get to are not run of the mill, but more of a treat. HD for wine lovers, if you will. Last week I had the pleasure of attending two Burgundy 2007 tastings. The Sorting Table and Wildman & Sons were in town to share their portfolio of 2007 Burgs with the trade. Burgundy is considered one of the most difficult regions in the world to work. Pinot Noir is an incredibly finicky grape and the climatic conditions each year are just as challenging. No surprise, these are really special events where invitees taste wines that can go for as much as $300+/bottle.

These tastings are also incredibly challenging to attend. Because of the timing of the event - just a few months post-harvest - the wines are typically barrel samples, which have been 'bottled' for the tastings here in the States; they are meant to give us a taste of what these wines will become. And by "become" I mean in quite a while.... Burgundy's reds (almost exclusively Pinot Noir) are not thought to come into their prime for at least another decade, and sometimes as much as three. The whites (almost exclusively Chardonnay) can also be aged for quite some time.

The 2007 vintage is said to be one of the most difficult in recent memory - but producing solid wines for those who tended their vines methodically, with tremendous care throughout the ups and downs of the vintage cycle. It was a long, warm spring suggesting an earlier harvest would be necessary. But it proceeded to rain, with temps consistently below average, throughout July and August. Finally in late August the sun decided to shine again and the northern winds arrived to dry things out in September. For those who really worked hard all vintage to give the grapes a chance - and then waited to pick - the fruit was ripe enough to produce concentrated, nuanced wines.

Those with greater experience tasting young Burgundy argue the Chardonnays are more consistently better than the Pinots in '07. For my part, though I hesitate to generalize, at each tasting I found the whites, indeed, were very vibrant, delightfully unadulterated and rightly displaying their characteristic minerality and searing acidity. The reds I tasted were mixed; the best offered the lovely concentrated fruit, nuanced earthiness and tremendous finesse one should expect from great Burgundy, while others were more diluted and characterless.

For the sake of this post (and my lengthy word count) I've deliberately refrained from going into greater detail about each of the specific (important) sub-regions within Burgundy - and the villages within these - which do make a difference on the predominant characteristics of a given red/white Burgundy. I fully encourage you to dig deeper to learn more about each. But, for a report on the 2007 vintage, definitely check out this resource. Very helpful, delightfully nerdy information therein.

Have you experienced great Burgundy? What vintage was the wine?

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the main event: holiday wines!

Earlier this week I saw an email thread asking recipients to pick their top wine of the year. I can't think of a more impossible task! If you've been reading the Pour Favor blog for awhile, I'm sure you know exactly why I feel this way: wine is an experience! Without context - friends, family, laughter, tears, food, bistro, bar, fireplace, porch, picnic blanket, a night "in"....- wine is just juice in a fancy bottle, with a special closure. Well, maybe not quite but you get my drift.... Since this will be my last post before the New Year, I've decided to offer a nod to the year past. I'm going to throw out a few wines I've found this year, which are particularly worthy of a good excuse to open, which I've not yet shared.  We'll start with white, then red, then bubbly, and then - just for good measure - a dessert wine. Fasten your seat belt! These are a few of my 2008 YUM wines:

WHITE:     2007 Les Heritiers du Comte Lafon Macon Milly Lamartine

I've rediscovered my passion for White Burgundy this year, first during the spring and then again and again this fall as it has gotten colder and I still crave a wonderful white. Dominique Lafon has long been revered for producing wonderful, concentrated wines in Meursault. His innovative edge and desire for a challenge brought him to the Maconnais - a region he recognized as under-appreciated, simply needing a bit of TLC. This wine is clear evidence exceptional insight, wine making and viticultural practices yield amazing results. The Les Heritiers has an intensely aromatic bouquet of pear, honeysuckle, citrus and jasmine. Its intoxicating minerality is complemented by rich pear and orange peel flavors. Such vibrancy and complexity is delivered in a memorably mouth-filling package. Delicious!

RED:     2005 O'Shaughnessy Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

It is rare for me not to write my own wine notes, but in the case of this wine I'm always left speechless (an amazing feat, I know!). Fortunately, the winemaker's notes capture the absolute explosion of well-integrated layers that ravish my taste buds and wrap me in a lovely cocoon of happiness! Ripe cherry, blackberry, smoke, tobacco leaf, coco bean and dark chocolate aromas are framed by sweet vanilla oak. Elegant but concentrated flavors of espresso bean, graphite, raspberry and strawberry preserves are followed by a long complex finish with silky tannins and good acidity. An extracted wine that is rewarding. A worthwhile splurge for Christmas dinner, for sure!

SPARKLING:    2001 Westport Rivers Imperial

This winery proves Massachusetts is capable of producing tremendous wines - and bubbly at that! Just imagine yourself on the Cape, beach book in hand, foaming waves rolling onto the shore and fresh, juicy peaches, pears and apples in the cooler nearby. Add a spritz of sea air and you have the Imperial in your glass. It has a full, frothy mouse of tiny, tiny bubbles that deliver a tremendous, floral nose. Just a touch of citrus is evident on the palate - a welcome crispness to offset its wonderfully lush character. Just a touch of sweet, ripe fruit lingers on the finish. Salud!

DESSERT:    2007 Bouchaine Bouch D'Or Late Harvest

For me, this wine was love at first sip! It is an opulent, seductive dessert wine made of 94% Chardonnay and 5% Riesling - not a late harvest often found. It has an enticingly floral nose, followed by apple fruits layered with honey flavors. A gentle touch of minerality is well-integrated. Not for the lighthearted, this wine is deliciously decadent!

I hope you and yours have a safe, happy and healthy New Year! Be sure to pick up a bottle of something fun this holiday season. And please, share what you've selected!

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