Wine Gourmet  

The Christmas season is the perfect opportunity to sample and share the many diverse wines available.  (Photo: Flickr user, photonoob)
The Christmas season is the perfect opportunity to sample and share the many diverse wines available. (Photo: Flickr user, photonoob)

More Christmas wine buys

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The Christmas countdown is on with only four weeks to go. Pretty soon the shoppers and the traffic will be out in full force and for those of you that have finished shopping already, congratulations. However, there are those of us that sometimes leave it to the last minute.

This is also the time of year where we plan get-togethers with friends and co-workers whether it’s an extravagant festive dinner, the staff party or simply hosting a cocktail party. Both occasions require some type of planning for food and drink and it makes for a perfect opportunity to sample and share the many diverse wines available. With the cold days looming, it’s easy to forget that winter can be a magical time of season as well. So light the fire, roll out the rug, stick on some carols and fill your glass!

Christmas time means that most of the usual rules that apply the rest of the year go out of the window. We throw caution to the wind, love to over-indulge and this means spending a little more on food and Christmas wine to make the festivities all the more enjoyable.

Hosting a dinner party? Why not start off with a glass of Champagne or sparkling wine? Nothing puts you in a festive mood like a glass of bubbly and sparkling wine and Champagne are essential at Christmas time. The NV Blue Mountain Brut ($30 PWS) is a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay with a small percentage of Pinot Gris. It is a fantastic wine with delicate fine, soft bubbles fresh on the palate with mouth filling fruit flavour of apricots, pears and figs. With refreshing acidity and a long fruit-filled finish, this is perfect on its own or with salmon, prawns, spicy Thai rolls or goat cheese appetizers.

Instead of Turkey, which is hard to do in my household (I’m persona non grata if I change anything at Christmas dinner), how about a roasted standing rib roast with fluffy Yorkshire pudding and garlic mashed potatoes. A dinner like this calls for something special to pair with the roast.

Try the 2007 Montes Alpha Syrah ($36 PWS). Costs a little more money but the wine delivers on the price. Rated 90/100 by preeminent wine writer Robert Parker, this is loaded with aromas of toasted wood, creamy vanilla, cassis, blackberry, plum, black cherry, roasted meat/dry-rub spices, tar, licorice, dark chocolate and tobacco leaf. The palate is full of intense flavours of candied black fruit, rich chocolate, soft, velvety acidity and silky tannins leading to a full, concentrated finish. Sensational.

A roast leg-of-lamb is another perfect alternative to poultry. Deboned and stuffed with roasted garlic, bacon and rosemary begs for something with a little more complex. Seek out the 2006 Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon ($33 PWS). This wine displays a vibrant purple-black colour, with a deep red rim, with aromas of blackberry, cassis, and rich blueberry, eucalyptus along with hints of mocha and roasted coffee. The palate takes you by surprise with its concentrated flavours of rich black fruit, followed by cedar and vanilla notes with a hint of spice. The fine, rounded silky acidity and firm tannin develops into a luscious, prolonged finish this is a wine that can be enjoyed in its youth, but also will reward patience.

Or try the 2007 Cline Syrah ($25 PWS). This wine is loaded with super ripe blackberry, blueberry and raspberry fruit with scents of rich milk chocolate, creamy vanilla, roasted coffee, licorice and spice. The soft, round palate is full of decadent with flavours of blueberry, raspberry, creamy oak and mint. Full, chewy tannins and a long juicy finish balance the velvety soft acidity. Killer wine.

Baked ham studded with cloves provides a few challenges because of the intense flavour of the clove. However, try a crisp Rosé. Rosé wines often get a bad rap but they can be a great match to many dishes, including ham. Look for dry or off-dry versions. The 2009 Joie Rosé ($25.90 PWS) is a blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Pinot Gris. This intense wine is full of aromas of strawberry and cherry with a just a hint of sweetness but still dry and crisp. Sparkling rosés can also be a great match and also have the added advantage of making any occasion a special one.

Lobster and Chardonnay are almost a marriage made in Heaven and I’ve often told consumers that it takes a great tasting Chardonnay to make me sit up and take notice. Well...the 2008 Chalone Chardonnay ($33 PWS) does just that. Rated 92/100 by the Wine Spectator, the wine offers up a light straw-gold colour with a green tinge, luscious aromas of citrusy lime, pineapple, mango and papaya. The palate is rich and full with gobs of juicy tropical and orchard fruit, honeysuckle, creamery butter and crisp spicy acidity. The slight hint of nutmeg on the lush finish adds that little extra layer of complexity. This wine actually has the ability to age until 2018.

Baked or poached Salmon is an option for Christmas dinner, possibly even grilled if it’s warm enough. Whatever the preparation, Pinot Gris or a Pinot Noir for red are great wines to pair. One of my favourite Gris’ is the 2008 Poplar Grove Pinot Gris ($26 PWS). This is a delicious, vibrant wine showcasing loads of lively tropical and orchard fruit aromas and flavours. Look for rich mango, pineapple, grapefruit, pear, and sweet apple with hints of white pepper, and creamy vanilla. Fermented all in stainless steel with no oak influence, it is dry with vibrant, crisp acidity, and a concentrated, rich, and smooth finish with great weight.

In Vino Veritas

Wine News:

The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival is releasing advance 1000 tickets for 2011 festival on November 30th. The release will offer wine-savvy consumers an opportunity to purchase Festival packages and International Festival Tasting tickets at a reduced price in advance of the official January 25th, 2011 ticket release date.  Wines from Spain will take center stage as the Theme Region at the 2011 Festival with the focus on fortified wine.

To purchase tickets, call the Playhouse Box Office toll-free at 1-877-321-3121 or 604-873-3311, Monday to Friday 9:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

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