By: George Balling
By Wednesday morning when you will be reading this many of you will have completed much of your shopping. If you are still working on the perfect gift selection, we will be here right through Christmas Eve at 4 in the afternoon. The one part of the Christmas plan that frequently waits for the last shopping excursion though is the beverages, and as you might suspect we can help with that too. Here are our recommendations for all the meals on and around Christmas day.
Crab and other seafood dishes are frequently featured on Christmas Eve, and when it comes to our favorite meal of fresh Dungeness crab, Chardonnay is the natural pairing. The 2021 Chalk Hill ($20, Wine Club Price $18) is delicious wine and priced to be a crowd pleaser. It is classic California all the way with ample notes of creamy butteriness on the palate and toasty oak aromas. The wine finishes cleanly with enough acid to cut the richness of shellfish.
If your gathering on Christmas Eve is a bit more intimate, we recommend the 2021 Kistler les Noisetiers Chardonnay ($87, Wine Club Price $78.30) from Sonoma County. Kistler has created a well-earned reputation for being among the best California Chardonnay producers. One sip of this wine and you will get it. The wine is silky and elegant from start to finish, striking the perfect balance between ripe rich fruit, crisp acid and creaminess. For a small dinner with special guests, it should not be missed.
Christmas and New Year’s are the most sparkly time of year and it is always good to have bubbles around for our own consumption and guests. The non-vintage Mirabelle Brut Rosé from California producer Schramsberg ($39, Wine Club Price $35.30) is a lovely choice. The bubbles are small and tight and the flavors are focused on light and bright summer berries. The wine is fermented dry and the finish is clean. Great for your New Year’s Eve toast or to enjoy on Christmas.
This past weekend we held our Holiday Champagne Tasting and when we tasted through the wines from that tasting the Brut from Taittinger in France ($95, Wine Club Price $85.50) was our favorite. Taittinger is one of the oldest Champagne houses and one that still remains under full French ownership. In our opinion it is what makes Champagne, Champagne. Aromas of brioche and broiled citrus lead to a palate with notes of honey and lemon. The bubbles are very fine for a sophisticated presentation.
Growing up my family always enjoyed turkey on Christmas, while today many of us enjoy prime rib or filet mignon. If you are having turkey the natural pairing is Pinot Noir. Our favorite for a larger crowd is the 2018 Davis Bynum Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($29, Wine Club Price $26.10). It shows all the profiles we love in Pinot from “the Russian” with aromas of mushroom based earthiness and ripe cherries and a silky palate loaded with lush ripe cherry flavors and a lengthy finish.
If you would like to pick a nicer bottle for a smaller gathering, we love the 2019 Failla Fort Ross Seaview Estate Pinot ($120, Wine Club Price $108) from superstar winemaker Ehren Jordan. The wine is nothing short of amazing with a silky-smooth cherry laden palate with near perfect tannin balance framing all of the rich cherry fruit on the palate. While spendy it is the most impressive Pinot Noir we have tried this year!
If you are having prime rib fuller bodied red wines are the way to go. If your gathering is a bit smaller the 2018 ZD Napa Cabernet ($100, Wine Club Price $90) is a fabulous choice. Dark, dense and rich the wine is a stunning example of all Napa has to offer in its most well-known varietal. Flavors of ripe Italian plums and aromas of spice box and tobacco, with plenty of hefty tannins to carry off the pairing with rich and fatty prime rib will make your Christmas meal.
An alternative suggestion for a beef dinner on Christmas is the 2019 Brewer Clifton Ex Post Facto Syrah ($45, Wine Club Price $40.50). Greg Brewer made this wine with extended skin contact and miraculously produced a wine with great color extraction but mild integrated tannins. The dark cherry flavors, savory aromas of meat, maple and dried herbs and ample acid make it a great choice with meat courses.
If we didn’t hit the spot with these recommendations for your holiday entertaining stop by the shop and we will take you through more choices. We have them from $9 and will work with you on all of your holiday pairings. Merry Christmas we will see you soon.