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It started with a love of food, wine & fun and blossomed into a maddening pursuit of the best recipes, techniques, grills, smokers, wines, crafted beers, rubs, marinades and sauces... We do more than play with our meat though -- we review and discuss all things cooking, drinking, reading, laughing and living at SaucyJoe's.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Holiday Wine Picks from the Gonz

Holiday Wine Selection
December 2005

It's the Holiday Season - for Wine Lovers too you know, and it's like Christmas every day with all the great choices out there. Unfortunately, being only human, (some say not) I am unable to taste ALL of the fantastic wines that are available out there. But I have done my homework and tasted several dozen great offerings in the last few weeks of tastings around the city. Here are a few really stellar selections, based on quality and relative price and availability. Serve some of these wines at your holiday gatherings this year, and you won't be getting coal in your stocking again this year!

Jingle Bells Reds

Great find of the season: Infinitus, 2003. A blend of 85% Tempranillo and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. This full bodied wine from Central Spain provides a very appealing blend of Cherry, Vanilla and Blackberry, finishing tight with a spice that lingers well on the palette. Very tasty, and very drinkable now with its soft tannins, this exceptional wine really is a steal at around $10 a bottle. I wouldn’t hold this wine long, it’s so “ready” to drink now, that I would not be surprised to find it in decline in less than 2 years. I bought a case, but not to worry, it won’t last through 2006. Now that I think of it, I need to pick up another case before they (or I) run out.

Stalwart Player: Hess Collectionicon, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignonicon 2002. Hess is a well respected Outfit that makes some higher end blends as well as excellent everyday drinking wines. Their Napa Cab falls right in the middle with a $20 price tag, but well worth it. Lots of big fruit, solid tannins suggesting good age ability, and a long finish. Very pleasing, and this was the star of at least one tasting that I have attended – very well received.

Plan Ahead for Christmas 2006; Cline 2003 Los Carneros Syrah For a BIG, tight, mouth-puckering assault of ripe fruit and tangy tannins, try this Cline Syrah
icon. With an explosion of bold fruit and spice, this wine shows excellent aging potential, before it settles into a great fully realized syrah. But if you like your syrah big and jammy, with enough backbone to hold up to Chocolate Trufflesicon or Roast Duck do try it now. It’s worth the experience, and at around $17 a bottle, it’s a good value.

Winter Wonderland Whites

Always works for me:
Chateau St. Jeanicon, Alexander Valley Robert Young Chardonnay. This is an excellent Wine, and with wide release and reasonably priced around $21, you can’t go wrong with a quality Chard. Ripe Apple and Pear, and enough oak to give it a nice depth, not over power it. Don’t over-oak my Chardonnay! This is a wine that will work for a tangy salad and hold up beautifully with the main Chicken or fish entrée.

icon: Let’s get right to it:
tis’ the season for planning for that special holiday dinner and celebrating the New Year and Champagne is the wine that makes it all work. Let’s talk about it – Champagne always seems to fit the bill, and you know there are a lot of good Champagnes out there, and a wide range of quality and price. BUT…here’s my dirty little secret – please don’t tell anyone - I have always found that with Champagne, you get what you pay for. That’s it - sorry, but I have just suffered through enough $9.99 and $12.99 bottles of Champagne
icon or Sparkling Wine

We all know that you can find a great bottle of red wine for under $10, and even have it rival the quality of much more expensive and well regarded bottles, but I have not had that pleasure with Champagne. Of course there are exceptions, but pay for the quality, and you will generally get it. SO if you are looking for a good Non-Vintage bottle (NV) - and are willing to pay in the $33 to $39icon range, there are a number of NV options that are always available, and are of high quality and consistency year after year – here are three favorites -
Moet & Chandon White Star
Mumm Cordon Rougeicon
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Labelicon, (The number one imported Champaign for the American Market)

But here we are - I have a great option for you for another $8 or $10 a bottle (depending where you buy it) - Check out my favorite NV Champagne – it’s Charles Heidsieck NV Brut. An exceptional wine that is well worth the $45 price tag, Charles Heidsieck NV is always bursting with berry and hazelnut, and provides a long, long, lonnnnng finish. It is far superior to the typical and more readily available imports, and it certainly supports my contention about getting what you pay for. This wine rivals many Vintage offerings from the great houses of Champagne. But remember, at less than 5,000 cases a year on average, (As compared to over 100,000 cases for the other listed Champagnes), you need to seek out Charles Heidsieckicon, and grab it when you can.

Happy Holidays to Saucy Joe, and all you wine lovers out there!
David Borzo


Blogger Connie said...

Good job, Borzo! I'm going to copy this and keep it with me for when I'm out and about. I love champagne and it loves me, so I'm looking forward to sampling one or two of your recommendations during the holidays. I guess that's where my Christmas money's going.

Sun Dec 11, 03:48:00 PM CST  
Blogger Saucy Joe Sullivan said...

Your homework is always appreciated David!! I wish I could have been there with you in the tasting trenches. We suffer through a lot of $9.99 to 12.99 Champagne at the house, but on those days that I'll splurge, I go for the Charles Heidsieck. We're looking forward to trying out your wine picks during the holiday season!!

Mon Dec 12, 08:08:00 PM CST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm hunting for the Infinitus 2003 to complete Curt's Christmas with Borzo collection. Where or where can I find it? SHHHH.... don't tell. --Luscious Lori Sue

Mon Dec 19, 05:43:00 PM CST  

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