Wines for 2020 Holiday Dining

by artfuldiner on November 20, 2020

in Artful Diner Review, Opinion, Special Celebrations, Wine, Wining and Dining

Nicholas - Holiday Walk Around Wine TastingYes, it’s that time again… And the big question is – at least from an oenological standpoint – “What wines are best served with your holiday feast(s)?”

But as I’ve mentioned on several other occasions, the problem usually isn’t the main course – especially turkey – which usually marries quite nicely with any vintage you’d care to throw at it. No, the monkey in the wrench is that seemingly endless complicated array of holiday side dishes. From sweet potatoes to the ubiquitous green bean casserole, choosing wines that marry well – or at least don’t alienate – this gastronomic hodgepodge can be more than a little challenging.

The art of pairing wine with food is, of course, really very much a matter of personal preference. On the other hand, there are several fairly safe amalgams – both white and red – that come to mind. With white wines, the pairing priority is finding those with well-balanced acidity. Ponderous, over-oaked California chardonnays, for example, need not apply. When it comes to reds, you want wines with fairly subtle tannins that will support the flavors of the food rather than overpowering them, or being overpowered by them… So, forget about uncorking that fabulously expensive 20-year-old Bordeaux you’ve been lovingly cellaring for a special occasion, as it just might get “lost in the sauce.”

Keeping all this in mind, listed below in alphabetical order are just a few of my recently-sampled favorite wines for your holiday table…

ACROBAT PINOT NOIR 2017 (Oregon): The Acrobat brand is best known for producing award-winning, versatile, and reasonably-priced Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris varietal wines that showcase the complexity of Oregon’s emerging wine growing regions. Originally part of King Estate Winery in Eugene, Oregon, Acrobat was purchased by Foley Family Wines of Healdsburg, CA, in October 2018.

Acrobat Pinot Noir isn’t a great wine… but, year after year, it is consistently reliable. The 2017 is a very pleasant, light-bodied vintage with rich, fruit-forward aromas and interesting hints of cinnamon & vanilla. On the palate, it’s delightfully crisp, smooth as silk going down, and marries nicely with a great variety of foods.

Priced at $19.99, the 2017 Acrobat Pinot Noir is available through Pennsylvania State Stores.

Villa AntinoriANTINORI, VILLA ANTINORI, TOSCANA RUSSO 2017 (Italy): An attractive blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, the 2017 Villa Antinori, which recently received 90 enthusiastic points from Wine Spectator magazine, is a perfect red wine for everyday quaffing or for any special occasion. This is a rich and succulent wine with well-integrated tannins & acidity and a long, satisfying finish.

Trouble is… while the wine is listed at $20.00 retail, it is currently going for an inflated $23.99 at Pennsylvania State Stores. Just a bit of online searching, however, and Villa Antinori can be had at a real bargain. The Wine Anthology, for example, is offering it at $15.69; Gary’s Wine at $16.99. And both these New Jersey retailers will ship to Pennsylvania… And even with shipping charges added on, you’ll still be way ahead of the game.

Gigondas 2016DOMAINE DE LONGUE TOQUE GIGONDAS 2016 (France): Gigondas is a wine Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in the southern Rhône region of France. It is primarily a red wine region, with a very small amount of rosé wine production.

The 2016 Domaine de Longue Toque Gigondas is a lush blend of Grenache, Syrah, and splash of Mourvèdre. It is deep purple/ruby in color with intense aromas of black fruits and touches of vanilla and spice. This is a plump, full-bodied wine that is beautifully structured and layered with flavor, while fine lingering tannins move you seamlessly along to an impressively fruity finish. Wine critics have been effusive across the board. The 2016 Gigondas garnered 93 points from the Wine Spectator, while Jeb Dunnuck bestowed a whopping 95 points, calling it “the finest vintage of this cuvée to date. In short, it’s a blockbuster.”

And here is one instance in which the Pennsylvania LCB has pitched you a real bargain. Listed at $44.00, this “Chairman’s Select” is on sale for a more than reasonable $19.99.

Legit Cabernet 2013TOLAINI “LEGIT” CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 (Italy): The 2013 “LEGIT” is a highly recommendable wine… for a variety of reasons. First of all, it garnered 94 points and was chosen as #26 in the Wine Spectator “Top 100 of 2019.” This wine is rich with aromas of dark fruit and cassis surrounded by the spice of French oak. On the palate, it is full-bodied with excellent depth, balance, and fine tannins, which are indicative of a cellar-worthy vintage.

The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon was farmed organically in the San Giovanni vineyard in the heart of Chianti Classico and the wine produced in a state-of-the-art facility under the watchful eye of world-class winemaker Michel Rolland. This is, indeed, quite a wine to savor.

… And then there’s the label. In case you’re wondering… the face and the hands of the legendary Thelonious Monk. When Tuscan vintner and international wine importer Lia Tolaini Banville met the grandchildren of the late, great jazzman, she was inspired to a collaboration to honor his memory with a singular wine from her family estate – LEGIT.

The retail price is listed at $45.00. However, once again, shopping online can save you a great deal. Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, California, is offering it at $31.99; the Red Wagon Wine Shoppe in Rochester, Michigan at $36.99 (plus shipping). Both will ship directly to Pennsylvania. Well worth seeking out, and the perfect supplement to your holiday table.

Tesch, MartinTESCH KARTHAUSER RIESLING 2016 (Germany): Tesch has been a family owned wine estate in the Nahe region of southwest Germany since 1723. Dr. Martin Tesch, whose degree is in microbiology, began working in the parental wine estate in 1996. After his father retired, Martin proceeded to completely restructure the estate. In 2002, he changed his entire wine collection. He stopped producing any medium dry or sweet Rieslings, changed labels, and reduced his entire collection to five (5) single vineyard wines plus the brand like Unplugged and the Dr. Tesch R, a Riesling in a 1-liter size bottle.

Those folks who have told me from time to time that they have never tasted a Riesling that wasn’t sweet, should certainly have a go at the 2016 Tresch Karthauser. It has that bright and distinctive “petrol” nose that seems to be alive with tropical fruit and mineral nuances. On the palate, it is a study in finesse and elegance… It is also bone dry with a delicate acidity and lingering salinity. This is precisely the kind of white wine that marries so well with the odd mishmash of dishes that often grace the holiday table.

This lovely vintage received 93 points from wine critic James Suckling and 92 points from Stephan Reinhardt of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, who called it a wine of “great class.” Its list price is $45.00… But be sure to check online, as the Wine Library in Springfield Township, New Jersey, currently has it on sale for $27.99 per bottle.

Cheers and Happy Holidays!


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