Christmas and New Year Wines

Our mission for the Thursday night tasting at Fine Wines of Stockton was to choose a favorite wine to have with hors d’oeuvres and one for a holiday dinner. George poured one sparkler, one white and four red wines. As usual all bottles were covered, though we cleverly picked out the sparkler and the white wine from among the reds! Here’s what we thought.

Zefiro Prosecco – this bubbly was very light in color had had almost no scent in the glass. Flavors were crisp and tasted like grapes. It had good acid and a creamy mouth feel. This was our favorite cocktail wine.

Sparkling wine is a natural pairing for the Holidays. A recent column in the New York Times by Eric Asimov “Deft Hands Behind the Bubbles” will give you some choices recommended by his tasting panel. The top four sparkling wines on their list range in price from $17 to $29 and are all from California! If a Prosecco is not to your liking, you will surely find a sparkling wine on this list that will suit you.

2008 Luke Donald Chardonnay – this Carneros designate had a medium yellow color and a bit of petroleum on the nose. Citrus flavors with a finish of citrus pith dominate the flavors with good acid and a bit of spice on the finish.

The Luke Donald collection of wines is a collaboration between the professional golfer and the Terlato Wine Group. Grapes are sourced from the Rutherford, Carneros and Stags Leap within the Napa Valley.

2009 Sorì San Marino Dolcetto – the ruby colored wine had cherries on the nose and tasted of dark fruit with a bit of tobacco. The tannins were significant and grippy. There was adequate acid in this wine and it had a long finish with flavor and tannins. This wine cried out for food. By itself the tannins in this wine were overwhelming. Just a nibble of cheese and crackers neutralized the tannins though.

2008 Maxwell Creek Merlot – the nose was slightly vegetal with dark fruit. Smoke, caramel and dark fruit flavors with moderate tannins made this a more complex tasting wine than the preceding one. This was our favorite wine to pair with a meal, but only by a single vote!

2008 Korta Carmenere Reserva – this very dark wine had asphalt on the nose and in the flavors with earthy dark fruit. Tannins were significant and this wine lost out as our favorite by just one vote. This Chilean Carmenere was interesting to taste back to back with the Maxwell Creek Merlot. Merlot and Carmenere are genetically similar, but the flavors are not. Different soil, climate and hemisphere make these two wines distinctly different.

2010 Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon – the color was very dark ruby, with a nose of green pepper and dark fruit. Black pepper, coffee and dark fruit flavors with significant tannins and good acid make this a very complex tasting wine. Both this wine and the previous one were close seconds for favorite wine with a holiday meal. Interestingly, the Duckhorn is significantly more expensive than the Maxwell Creek and the Korta. Something to always consider.


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