Finding new and novel holiday tipple can be agony. We all have a go-to bottle that we pick up from the closest supermarket in a pinch, but if you have the time and desire to step outside your comfort zone and impress guests and hosts, some of these may just do the trick.
For The Wine Company’s private account and marketing manager Jenny Hung, the choices of the season are the 2009 Patrick Javillier Meursault Village Cuvee Tête De Murger white burgundy ($590) and its red partner, the 2012 Jean Louis Raillard Vosne-Romanée Village ($480). Hung chose Patrick Javillier for the overall strength of the white Burgundies that year, with this approachable, floral wine that is textured and crisp. The Vosne-Romanée is typically exuberantly fruity but this vintage is more glamorous than the 2010 due to the early growing trouble that year.
Over at Schmidt Vinothek, chief sommelier Kevin Li is keen on a wine from outside the shop’s prime region. The 2008 La Collina Dei Ciliegi Amarone ($800) from Veneto is, according to Li, a “Full bodied red with elegancy, charming sweet accents on the nose, delicate and balanced on palate.’ He likes the bold Amarone on its own or with meats — like turkey. “It’s especially good as an after-dinner drink to be enjoyed with a cigar,’ he notes. For the last day of the year, Li suggests the J. Heinrich Magic Moments Rosé Brut, Sekt (Austria, $300). The pinkish sparkling is right for aperitifs, with meals or on its own, “So it is perfect for any festivities. The pink colour of this sparkling also enhances the party mood,’ notes Li.
Italian boutique winery specialist Enoteca Italiana just missed the holidays last year, but the shop is working at full tilt now. Sales representative Natalie Holm likes a 2010 Sturm Friulano ($300) from Friuli, a brilliant straw white with a floral nose. “It’s great to begin as an aperitif and matches well with cured meats such as prosciutto (wrapped around asparagus) and salami, fish dishes and fresh mature cheeses,’ notes Holm. On the red front, Zeni Spaziol’s 2009 Pinot Nero ($520) has a ruby colour and hints of wild cherry. A soft, harmonious wine, “[It] opens up to dark forest fruits, and hints of vanilla and toasted currants, says Holm. It’s ideal with meat and rich fish dishes.
Phoebe Chan at indie retailer Wine Point suggests starting the New Year with a Castellroig Cava Gran Reserva Brut Nature ($298) from Spain. The 36-month-old has fine bubbles and a fresh, floral aroma and a full-bodied, white fruit taste. For a white she recommends 2014 Auntsfield ($228),Sauvignon Blanc from stalwart New Zealand. Powerful and elegant like so many from New Zealand, Auntsfield is herbal with a citrus aroma for a “lively wine.’ For an added bonus, pick up a 2008 Palladino Barolo Serralunga ($398), a beautiful single vineyard Nebbiolo with a “bright blackberry taste with flavours of cherry and light renderings of spice and tobacco.’
Finally, British fine wine merchants Berry Bros. & Rudd is indeed open for retail, and private account manager Jose Lau selects a 2010 L ‘Esprit de Chevalier Rouge, Pessac-Leognan ($198), a cherry and vanilla-accented red from a particularly strong year. Good value and a “quaffers favourite,’ Lau enthuses, “This was a fantastic vintage in Bordeaux, a second wine from a great Chateau will have the good pedigree, on top of that selling under $200 a bottle makes this a really great buy for Christmas gatherings or a quiet dinner.’ At the other end of the spectrum, Lau likes the 2010 Auxey-Duresses Blanc, Benjamin Leroux ($208), a well structured, vaguely mineral-y and apple-ish white. “Young superstar Burgundian producer Leroux just has [a] magic touch for any wine he makes, this … is also from a brilliant vintage in Burgundy. This four-year-old is at its prime, to be drunk over a lighter seafood meal to a fine cut of pork chop,’ says Lau. So no more wines from a box. Salute, gonbei, santé prost and cheers.