When it's time to plan this season's special holiday gathering,
why not reach for the classics? Wine fans are spoiled for choice this season.
The following "Holiday Wine Buyer's Guide" presents five excellent wines for
different holiday settings. Ranging from lightweight to full-bodied, all of
these festive favorites are sure to delight your guests, please the palate and
spare your pocketbook.
Happily, the SVB vintner clients profiled here are also ready to
help when it comes to finding the perfect pairing for your holiday table.
Wine: J Cuvee 20 Brut NV. This wonderfully affordable sparkling wine
from the Russian River is the perfect way to kickoff the holiday season. It
opens up with crisp lemon peel and delicate yeasty aromas. The acidity adds
just enough liveliness and citrus that leads to a lingering, warm pear finish.
Pairing: Champagne is probably one of the most versatile wines to pair
with food. (Most champagne-like wines here in California are called sparkling
wines out of deference to the French who prefer that other regions refer to
their sparklers as Champagne.) The best cheeses for a Brut Sparkler like this
are aged, hard cheeses like Parmesan, Gouda or Cheddar (Brut means 'dry'). Any
pasta or risotto with a cream or mushroom sauce is also a natural for this
wine, and fish or seafood — especially lobster — will truly come alive with these
Price: $22.00, 750ml.
Wine: 2007 Trefethen Chardonnay. You really can't go wrong with this
classic Chardonnay. After all, 30 years ago this wine was named the "Best
Chardonnay in the World" at the Gault Millau Wine Olympics in France and that
was the beginning of a tradition of excellence for the winemaker.
This is a no-nonsense California gem from the Oak Knoll District
of Napa Valley. Enjoy the aromas of pear, lemon cream and toasted brioche with
a full, viscous mouth feel that is balanced by classic Trefethen fruit — bright
and crisp pear and lemon.
Pairing: Your guests will rave
about the smoked salmon creme fraîche on rye
bread toast points. Buttery Chardonnay like this also pairs well with lobster,
sweetbreads and veal. Opulent, for sure, but it's a perfect way to celebrate
the flavors of season. Of course, it is completely appropriate to serve
Chardonnay with your Thanksgiving roast turkey. In fact, the buttery texture of
this selection will also pair nicely with classic side dishes like butternut
squash or sweet potatoes.
Price: $30.00, 750ml.
Wine: 2008 Chehalem Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills (Stoller Vineyard),
Oregon. The Wine Spectator gave this wine 93 points in October 2010, and
described it as light, tangy with a strong mineral character running through
the deftly balanced plum and currant fruit. But here's the kicker that will
surely captivate your guests: the airy texture lets the finish hang like a
cloud with impressive length. Defines finesse! Sounds like a clear winner for
Pairing: This slightly fruity wine
rounds out the somewhat gamey flavors of roasted rack of lamb. The spicy clove
flavors of the wine with the Bing cherry flavors make a perfect match for the
rosemary and thyme of classic lamb-based dishes.
Price: $44.00, 750ml.
Wine: 2007 Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot. Since 1978, Dan Duckhorn has
spent a quarter century establishing his winery as one of North America's premier
producers of Bordeaux varietals. A great fan of the Merlot since traveling to
St. Emilion and Pomerol, Dan felt this elegant grape was ripe for harvest in
Napa Valley. As he explains, "I liked the softness, the seductiveness, the
color… and the fact that it went well with a lot of different foods. It seemed
to me like a wine to just enjoy."
Pairing: The low tannin, soft and
slightly smooth flavors of this wine pair pleasantly with a dish like pork
chops. It sets the stage for the combining the sweet and the salty. It should delight everyone at the table, too! It is also a great candidate for the
ultimate holiday dinner main course: duxelle/filo dough-encrusted filet mignon
and Beef Wellington. Let's go for it!
Wine: 2006 Ramey Larkmead Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Stephen Tanzer who gave this wine 93 points, describes it in the following way,
"Glass-staining ruby! Deep, youthfully brooding cassis and dark cherry on the
nose, with a strong licorice note building in the glass… For a big boy, this is
Pairing: Prime rib of beef. This is
no time to skimp on the gravy, either. This wine can support just about
anything! And if there is anything left in the decanter, it also pairs
perfectly with a wedge of Stilton or… a small sliver of chocolate decadence
Price: $65.00, 750ml.
Have some fun trying out one or two of the pairings, and then
clear the decks for a long winter's nap!
Liquid Assets hopes everyone enjoys a delicious and risk-free holiday
season. Bon Appe'tit!
Silicon Valley Bank's Wine Division publishes Liquid Assets as a quarterly column featuring visionary winemakers and wineries. As the leading provider of financial services to wineries and vineyards in the western United States, we are using our unique perspective to help our readers further understand winemaking and the innovative vintners who create some of the world's premium wines.
Silicon Valley Bank is not selling, marketing or distributing wine or wine-related products. Through its SVBwines.com Web site, Silicon Valley Bank provides information to clients, employees and other parties and refers those users to wineries and other wine industry service providers. These communications are for informational purposes. Silicon Valley Bank is not responsible for (or a participant in) the sales of any of the wineries' products in any fashion or manner, and makes no representations that any promotion or sales of alcoholic beverages will or will not be conducted in a lawful manner. Further, Silicon Valley Bank disclaims any responsibility or warranty for any products sold by wineries or other wine industry service providers.