Seafood…it is really what I live for (besides wine!). My husband and I have been known to drive hours just to get some fresh oysters from the northern coast of California or trek through LA traffic just to find the best sushi. I always get excited to find a nice wine to pair with seafood, especially when it costs less than $20 a bottle. My most recent find is a simple yet delicious Muscadet from the Loire Valley of France.
Les Clissages d’Or Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine Sur Lie 2009 has aromas of white flowers and melon and the palate has fresh flavors of peach, gooseberry and pear. There are also nice notes of minerality. Crisp, refreshing, and delightful with most seafood! (12% alcohol, $13)
Food Pairing Suggestions – Oysters, linguine with white clam sauce, or a seafood salad.
With only a few days left before Christmas, you may find yourself scrambling to buy a few bottles of wine that will please your holiday crowd. I recently uncorked a bottle of 2011 “The Crusher” Petite Sirah and was really impressed with the quality-price-ratio of this California red from Don Sebastiani & Sons.
A mouth-staining deep purple in color, this Petite Sirah has aromas of rich blackberry, blueberry, and toffee. The palate is rich and velvety, with tastes of ripe blackberry, dark cherry, and cassis. There are also hints of dark chocolate, caramel, and pepper. Bold yet balanced! ($14, 13.5% alcohol)
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with burgers, grilled pork, or mushroom quesadillas.
A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to do a Twitter tasting with Don Sebastiani & Sons. Unfortunately, the wine samples that came in were super tiny bottles so I didn’t get a really good grasp of the wines. That is why I was super happy when a full-size bottle of Aquinas Philosopher’s Blend arrived at my door. This Napa Valley red blend is 79% Cabernet, 15% Merlot, and 6% Petite Sirah.
Aquinas Philosopher’s Blend pours a deep ruby in the glass…the Petite definitely enriches the intensity of the color. Aromas of plum, dark cherry, spice and nuances of oak combine to make an enticing nose. The palate has tastes of ripe dark berries and cherry along with pepper, cedar, and soft tannins. Elegant, balanced and undoubtedly delicious. ($40, 13.5% alcohol)
Food Suggestions – Pair this blend with grilled red meat, pasta with red sauce, or dark chocolate.
I am rounding out my sparkling wine picks with a terrific value from Alsace. As I have mentioned before, sparklers from Alsace are made in the same method as Champagne but generally retail for a fraction of the cost.
Pouring a brilliant gold color in the glass, Gustave Lorentz Cremant d’Alsace has aromas of citrus, apple, and a hint melon. The palate has lively tastes of crisp apple, brioche, lemon, and lime and the fresh finish shows lingering lemon peel. So delicious, I would be happy to serve this sparkler at my own house over the holidays! (12% alcohol, $25)
If you want to grab a bottle of Champagne for Christmas or New Year’s Eve, there are endless possibilities. One bottle that is relatively easy to find and is also a great value is Bollinger NV Brut Special Cuvee. It is a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier and retails for $50.
The nose has smokey notes of apple and citrus. The palate offers tastes of toasted nuts, ginger, and apple with hints of spice. It is a beautiful Champagne with fresh acidity and layers of intense flavor. One of the better Champagnes that I have found for around $50 and a great wine for you holiday celebrations!
The Alsace region of France produces incredible sparkling wine values. Crémant d’Alsace is made using the same method as Champagne but is generally under $25. Willm Crémant d’Alsace Blanc de Blancs is a great example of this style of sparkling wine. It is 100% Pinot Blanc and surprisingly multi-dimensional for the price.
Golden yellow in the glass, this sparkler has interesting aromas of caramel and citrus. The palate is filled with delicate bubbles and tastes of apple, pear and lemon. There is also a kiss of butterscotch that lingers in the finish. A great addition to your holiday lineup! ($13, 12% alcohol)
Food Pairing Suggestions – Sip as an aperitif or pair with seafood.
Over the next several days, I am going to feature some sparkling wines at different price points that are great for both Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. The first pick is a Prosecco which is a great choice when you want to serve a sparkling wine that will please your holiday crowd while taking it easy on your wallet. Valdo Oro Puro Prosecco Superior is very easy to drink and retails for around $12.
This Prosecco pours a white gold in the glass and has aromas of citrus and pears. The palate is smooth and slightly creamy. There are floral notes intermingled with sweet pear, pineapple, and lemon followed with a lingering, citrus-filled finish. A nice, food-friendly wine and a terrific value!
When in Napa, I always make sure to swing into Cornerstone’s tasting room to try their latest releases. It is the kind of space that makes you want to relax and take your time as you taste through Cornerstone and Stepping Stone wines. The majority of Cornerstone’s wines come from Napa Valley but they also feature Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
While I enjoy the Cornerstone line, I have to say the quality-price ratio of Stepping Stone is hard to beat. I am a fan of cool climate Pinot Noir so it is no coincidence that my favorite wine from the Stepping Stone line is the 2010 Pinot Noir. This Willamette Valley wine has aromas of bright, red berries with hints of earth. The palate is elegant with flavors of cranberry, raspberry, leather and a touch of spice. Juicy, delicious and priced very well at $30!