Salut: Making a case for wine – Nov. 22, 2014

By Anthony Gismondi

Holiday entertaining season is upon us and while you may have decked the halls, found the perfect dress and done your gift shopping early when are you going to get serious about which wines you will be partying with from now until New Yeara��s Day?

Wine deserves the same attention as everything else, and with a little planning it should be easy to come up with the right wine no matter what the occasion.

Our holiday case covers a number of different wine styles, different grapes and, blends you can have on hand to meet any possibilities for entertaining.

Think of our case as the perfect wine pantry.



The most versatile wine you can have in the pantry is a bottle of sparkling wine. Our pick is authentic, blanc de blancs champagne from Champagne, Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru N/V Brut, $55. Made with 100 per cent a�?Grand Crua�� fruit it is difficult to believe you can get this much finesse in a bottle of champagne for this price. Ita��s an all-chardonnay a�?Blanc de Blancs,a�� with just the right amount of fruit, hazelnuts, citrus and stony minerality. Class in a bottle, it is the ultimate appetizer wine but it works with sushi, a seafood dinner courses and it is the best hostess gift ever. Your boss would be impressed with a bottle of this, too.



Sauvignon Blanc doesna��t get a lot of respect but it is so versatile with food you need a wine of this style in your case, especially if oysters, clams, mussels are part of your holiday entertaining plans. Our pick is the outstanding for the price, Errazuriz Don Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2014, $19. This wine just gets better every year as the vines settled into the Manzanar Vineyard some 12 km from the Pacific Ocean in Chile. Dried herbs, nettle, lime and grapefruit flavours dominate on the nose but remain quiet and fresh on the palate forsaking pungency for finesse. The finish is long and creamy. First rate stuff in a brutal package but dona��t let that deter you. Goat cheese, tomatoes, corn fish chicken all work here.



Everybody loves Chardonnay the question is should it be rich and oaky or should it be skinny and acidic? For the holidays you should land somewhere in the middle with the cooler, costal New World white La Crema Sonoma Coast 2012 Chardonnay, $27. Fashionably rich with buttery tropical fruit notes therea��s enough citrus and ripe apple flavours to keep it fresh. Appetizers, sushi, chicken, crab or lobster all work here.



From Thai to Chinese to Indian and barbecue and everything in between Riesling was made for the wine pantry because you can serve it with just about anything. It brings a juicy electric jolt to vegetarian dishes and is amazingly fun to sip solo. Go screw cap for ease of opening and to preserve the delicate fruit that makes Riesling so enticing in the glass. Your best choices are local, German or Australian but for sheer value and availability we recommend the Quailsa�� Gate Dry Riesling 2013, $17. Serve with a variety of cheese dishes or your favourite prawn appetizer.



Pinot Noir is the red wine of the moment and almost everyone is drinking it. It is a hit with those who love their red silky and drinkable. Fish, veal, duck and an assorted pates from the same ingredients are fine matches. If your guests are neighbours on foot this is a fun wine to serve generously a�� the challenge is to find one find one that is both delicious and affordable. Burgundy is the standard, but the wines of southern New Zealand, parts of Chile, California and Canada offer juicer values. Our pick is the Five Vineyards by Mission Hill Pinot Noir 2012, $19, from the Okanagan Valley. As the Pinot Noir program blossoms at Mission Hill, thanks to maturing sites in cool Naramata and even cooler Kelowna, the ladder of Pinot Noir fruit continues to strengthen. Savoury notes of black teas, cherries, plums and celery salt mark its soft, round palate. Impressive for under $20.



The fortunes of Syrah/shiraz remain up in the air but any bottle you pull out over the holidays for those hearty red wine drinkers will no doubt be well received. In its broadest context New World shiraz/Syrah from Australia, Chile, California, Washington State, Argentina and Canada offers intense peppery flavours of blackberries and damson plums. Mix that with smoky bacon, black pepper, mocha, coffee and vanilla flavours and you have a recipe few consumers can resist. In Europe, particularly France blackberries, plums, smoke and chocolate. Our pick for the pantry is an amazing value from Chile, the Emiliana Adobe Syrah Reserva OrgA?nico 2012, $15. Smoky blue and black fruits with peppery, spicy, mineral, lush red fruits all grown organically. Serve with beef stew, beef tacos, pulled pork and lamb.



Malbec is everyonea��s glass of late so it make sense to add this ripe, soft red to the case and while you can check out some labels from France and Chile, ita��s Argentina where the selection is. Expect voluptuous, black fruit flavours that finish with a strong, earthy savoury undercurrent, usually with a friendly dollop of oak. There are numerous choices available in B.C., especially at the affordable end of the price spectrum, where malbeca��s price/quality ratio is as good as it gets in the wine business. If chicken, meat or cheese is involved reach for the delicious Crios Malbec by Susana Balbo Dominio de Plata 2013, $17. Aromatic floral/violet notes underlay a sweet and savoury mix of black fruit. Delicious value.



The largest selling red varietal wine in the world is cabernet sauvignon, so this has to be among your pantry stash. Your bets best will be from California, Australia, France, Chile or Argentina. They are all relatively rich, alcoholic and tannic so foods like meatballs, lamb popsicles and or cheese would be great choices to accompany any cabernet. Value and flavour lead us to suggest the Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2011, $15. Cassis/menthol/bay leaf aromas mix with blackcurrant, black olives and mocha/chocolate flavours rubbed wild dried herbs. Super value for large parties.


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Ita��s been a long time coming but the best new reds are likely a blend of several variety. The Bordelais invented the great blended reds using cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot but of late the Grenache, Syrah and cinsault of Rhone Valley and the Languedoc have been the go to appellations for value. The Cote Mas Languedoc Reserve 2012, $16, is a classic Languedoc: Grenache, Syrah, carignan and mourvA?dre and the aromas and flavours south of France garrigue black fruits cedar and smooth tannins. Grilled meats or poultry, casseroles or a piece of cheese it all works here. Even better value and surprising versatile for those late night pizza parties, and meat based appetizers is the Urban Uco 2011 Malbec Tempranillo, $13, from Mendoza, Argentina. Soft, slippery and affordable.



Blended whites offer more sophistication and flavours than most pure varietal white wines and can often be cheaper in price. Ita��s the year of marsanne, roussanne, Viognier and Grenache blanc so we are going with one local and one imported blend to stock our pantry list. From the Rhone ita��s hard to beat the flavour and values of the best price on oxytrol Louis Bernard CA?tes du RhA?ne Blanc 2012, $14. The mix of floral scents and tropical fruits flecked with citrus and stony, mineral notes allow for countless seafood matches. Locally there are three wines in government stores you should consider, Ia��ll let you make the final decision. The Road 13 Stemwinder 2012, $18, is a blend of Chardonnay, Chardonnay MusquA�, Viognier and roussanne alive with juicy, tree fruit flavours. The Howling Bluff Summa Quies Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2013, $20, reveals the balance and temperament of Naramata fruit while the Terravista Fandango 2013, $25 azax dosage , is an albariA�o/verdejo blend that mixes a subtle blend of juicy citrus, minerality with floral, pear and white peach flavours. The perfect wine for party entertaining.



Youa��ll need a bottle of port for those afternoon visitors or a late sip. Fortified and fruity Late bottle vintage port is the all here and you can keep it open for a week or two over the holidays so there is no rush to drink it. Our pick is the Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Porto 2009, $26. The style is ready to sip with just a bit of that legendary Taylor structure. Serve with chocolate and or nut-based desserts as well as cheese and fruit plates or a small plate of heated nuts.

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