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

twelvedaysofxmas2013For 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 Carm 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!

“impossible” pairing – nein?!

Is there such a thing as an “impossible” food/wine pairing? Some say Yes, others No. I’m of the mind that nothing’s impossible!

Sure there are a few tricky foods in the wine-o-sphere: asparagus, artichokes and eggs, come to mind immediately.

But trial and error proves time and again that for eggs there is always sparkling wine (and the higher the acid, and finer the bubbles the better, me thinks). For asparagus you can try Albarino, the Spanish white varietal that is low in alcohol, high in acid and lanolin-like in texture and is as food-loving as they come. In fact, this is my usual go-to for trickier pairings like super spicy fare or a redmeat-centric dish that would really do better with a red wine or even a rose, but where a white is required.

In my mind, artichokes are actually the biggest wine challenge – and in truth, this is probably a pre-conceived notion that I have because as much as I absolutely love them, they are such a pain to work with that I rarely prepare them myself.  Leave it to my good friend, a wonderful cook, to invite me over for dinner and make them! Fortunately she gave me the heads up so I could ponder the pairing for a little bit. She also told me that the main protein would be monkfish – so my playing field was happily narrowed: a white wine would be the best route to take.

As alluded  above, bubbly is certainly a safe bet when it comes to tricky pairings. But I wasn’t in the mood for full-throttle bubbles or too much toasty richness; and Prosecco doesn’t strike me as a sparkling with enough pungency or pizazz to fight back in the Table-side Food Challenge Throwdown that was presented. Something with tang seemed more like it.  Something that had enough ‘muscle’ to stand up to the ‘choke was needed.

Tocai came to mind, but didn’t win me over. So did New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Torrontes – but I wondered if their pungency would actually be too much.  And I really do think a little bubble and low alcohol goes a long way, so I perused my esoteric bubbly wine options instead. A lightly Sparkling Gruner called PUNKT was tempting, but I wasn’t sure the fruit and tang would come through enough to stand its ground. Then my eye caught sight of this bizarre and awesome wine called La Tosa.

La Tosa has historically been the ultimate zesty, fresh white wine with  just a hint of sparkle. But last vintage the twin brothers who make it decided to go full-on in the bubble department – and the new version of its former self is killer. Still a blend of Malvasia, Trebbiano, and Ortrugo grapes, lemon-lime flavors absolutely pop on the palate and an awesome fresh herbal note adds intrigue. Lively acidity brings it all on home. I thought, what  the heck?, and grabbed a bottle to chill.

Once around the table with my pasta bowl in front of me, I dove right in to the supposed wine-killer: the artichokes. Then I saddled up to my wine glass, breathed in the fresh bouquet and took a big sip. It was delicious! Each element stood its ground in ideal harmony – the artichokes danced while the wine sang. VICTORY.

What wasn’t so hot was the La Tosa with dessert: Gummi Bears. It was down right foul. I took a mental note to save that challenge for another day!

What would you pair with Gummi Bears?

Bubbles!

I drink sparkling wine all year long. Happily. Oh, so, happily! This year in particular has been a fun one in the sparkler-sphere, too. We’ve found many wines that are unique AND affordable, so my inclination to bring them home has been even greater. Long story short, while I’d never turn down an opportunity to enjoy a few gorgeous Champagnes (that is, from the Mothership of Champagne, France itself) if you travel outside this elite sparkling region you can find some real values.

Now, when it comes to the traditional time of year to pop a few corks (namely New Year’s Eve), I’m super psyched to have several of these options to choose from before heading to my friends’ to toast 2012. Here are a few that have caught my fancy so much so that they’ve inspired full-fledged wine notes. Ready? Set… GO!

Finca Flichman Extra Brut ~ Malbec is the sure-fire winning grape of 2011. But we wine nerds can’t forecast a reason to make a change in 2012! This trend has every right to carry on with gusto, particularly when we can also find it in an everyday celebratory (and affordable) package! Finca Flichman serves up a pretty bubbly, with terrific florals, snappy cherry and even a dash of blueberry and black raspberry fruits on the palate. This dry, redish sparkler (a blend of Chardonnay and Malbec) certainly intrigues and delights every sip of the way. And yes, for $9.99 it over delivers on quality!

Dom. Collin Cremant de Limoux ~ This is a sparkling wine (aka Cremant) with pedigree and pizazz from the Loire Valley of France. The pedigree part is that they man behind the magic has a Champagne project, but he thought it would be fun to dabble in the Loire as well. A blend of mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (two of the three grapes permitted in Champagne) with a little Loire-tastic Chenin Blanc thrown in for good measure, the winemaking behind the wine ensures a toasty, brioche-like flavor and texture to the wine. Tiny bubbles deliver clean fruit notes (apple, lemon pith and pear) a touch of bitter almond, plus a whopping of cleansing mineral notes bringing the dry finish all the way home. Take this bad boy home for only $13.99. A party-pleaser for sure!

Selim Spumante Brut NV ~  This is perhaps the rarest sparkler I’ve ever encountered. Hailing from Campania, Italy it is no Prosecco – rather it is a blend of three grapes, one white (Fiano) and two reds (Aglianico and Barbera). Such a blend delivers a white sparkler with an intriguing and delicious flavor profile and texture: its smooth mousse offers up pink roses and lemon curd aromas and then delivers lifted, delightfully nuanced flavors including citrus, raspberries and bing cherries. A touch of talc provides a welcome and balancing minerality. Selim is a complex yet approachably delicious crowd pleaser for any occasion. Grab a bottle and discover what I’m so excited about! $20.99

Oriel “365″ Prosecco NV – If you want something that offers a little something more in the traditional Italian sparkler-sphere, Oriel has just the thing. Their idea is to bring you an affordable Prosecco vehicle that is affordable enough you can enjoy bubbles ALL YEAR LONG, as Prosecco should be. (And yes, to answer your question, Prosecco is an Italian sparkler made from grapes of the same name.)  This not-so-simple, but oh-so-satisfying, lightly moussed wine with ample pear, lemon cream and yellow apple fruit takes a familiar experience up a notch. $17.99

Domaine Rolet Cremant du Jura Brut 2007 ~  For a non-Champagne sparkler, even with such great competition found this year in the marketplace, this wine might be the go-to Show Stopper for a pseudo Champagne. An offering from the off-the-beaten-track of Jura, France, this wine is a blend of Chardonnay, the indigenous Savagnin, and Pinot Noir. It has a luscious, rich texture yet fine bubbles and clean fruit. Specifically, quince and honeydew melon flavors offer a nice balance of tart/clean and savory/fleshy. A tangerine zip of acidity delights to no end. This bugger comes in just under $20 at $19.99. Happiness!

If you aren’t on the bubbly bandwagon just yet, this weekend to jump on. Grab something fun and live it up! But please, have a safe, happy and healthy New Year!