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Holiday Wine Guide 2009

Here are some of the standouts from the year of quaffing. Buy them as gifts, enjoy them yourself while you cook or with family and friends.

At $15, the Château Pesquie Les Terrasses 2006 is a major steal. For starters, this wine has an appealing color, a rich, royal purple. Quaffability Rating: 90

The 3 Rings Shiraz 2006 ($25) really surprised me. At 15% alcohol, you’d expect a bit of fire on the tongue, but no, after taking in aromas of fresh-picked wild blueberry, blackberry, cut grass and cedar, I took a sip and found the wine’s tannins rolled over my palette like silk. It’s unexpectedly soft and supple, while maintaining an enticing complexity. Quaffability Rating: 92

The Mark West Pinot Noir 2006 ($24) blew me away for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, the wine is delicious, a true-tasting California Pinot Noir with aromas of juicy plum, dark cherry and damp soil. On the palate, the earthiness continues, along with brighter cherry flavors and oak. Quaffability Rating: 91

The Felino Vina Cobos Malbec 2007 ($20) from Mendoza, Argentina, has a really nice, crimson color, with aromas of cherries and blackberries and a hint of liquorice. It’s a meaty wine on the palette, bursting with intermingling flavors, each dancing alone briefly before merging with the whole. Quaffability Rating: 90.

If you can find it, splurge on the Joseph Phelps Le Mistral 2005 ($66), a stunningly complex Napa Valley Syrah. Quaffability Rating: 93.

The Morandé Gran Reserva Chardonnay ($22), has an intense golden hue. It almost looks like a dessert wine, which begins to make sense when you consider that about a quarter of the grapes used to make the wine were cryogenically frozen – simulating the icewine-making process. On the nose, aromas of tropical fruit mingle with honey and vanilla, and despite its rich, golden color, there is only a touch of sweetness on the palette, easily balanced out by a flinty acidity and citrus notes. Quaffability Rating: 89

The Hedonist Shiraz 2005 McLaren Vale ($20) With a name like The Hedonist, you’d expect this Aussie Shiraz to blow your socks off with tannic power, but instead the wine comes off as sophisticated and well balanced. This is not say there’s nothing hedonistic about it --- its aromas are intoxicating and every sip (or gulp) is pure pleasure. Quaffability Rating: 91

The Pasiteo Fassati Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2005 ($25) has an exotic nose of violets, cocoa, leather and concentrated cherries. The palette is equally enticing and complex, showing rosemary, plum, campfire smoke and tart cherries. The flavors linger forever. Quaffability Rating: 90

Chateau Côte Montpezat Côtes de Castillon 2003 ($20) The nose of plum, dates and rosemary leads to palette-pleasing array of interesting flavors, including smoky oak and more plums, and vanilla. Quaffability Rating: 88.

And for sparking wine:

For a mere $15 or so, the Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Blanc Moingeon tastes like a much more expensive Champagne. It’s made in the same style as its pricier cousin, using the “Méthode Traditionnelle,” but sells for considerably less than a decent bottle of official Champagne. Quaffability Rating: 90.

Cheers and happy holiday quaffing!


“Holiday Wine Guide 2009”