What To Drink Now: Bold Reds For The Holiday

As you make your final plans for Christmas dinner make sure the wines you pour stand up to the bold flavors that are likely going to be gracing your holiday table. Need some inspiration, take a peek below, and have a fantastic holiday!

If you are serving Beef Wellington, or a perfectly trimmed Chateaubriand, consider a classic Bordeaux or Bordeaux blend. I am a huge fan of Right Bank Bordeaux, heavy on Cabernet Franc and Merlot, and the latest vintage of Chateau Lassegue St. Emillion Grand Cru Bordeaux ($75) verified why. Consistently, even in inconsistent years, the skilled hands of seventh-generation vigneron Nicolas Seillan showcases the elegance of the region and the historic Lassegue property. Following in his father’s, master vigneron and winemaker Pierre Seillan, Nicolas highlights the terroir filled with predominantly clay soils, mingling with limestone, to craft the traditional Right Bank blend heavy in Merlot, giving red and blue fruits, graceful character, and spice, with aromatic Cabernet Franc, and a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon giving power and structure to the tasteful blend.

Blending the five dominant Bordeaux varieties (Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Malbec) Dry Creek Vineyard delivers a structured, bold red with complexity and structure in their “The Mariner” red blend ($50). Aromas of blackberry, toasted oak, and fragrant violets lift from the glass effortlessly, followed by spiced notes of crushed pepper and allspice, dark chocolate, currant, and black cherry.

If you are grilling ribeye steaks this holiday look no further than Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon!

From hillside vineyards on the historic Somerston Estate within Napa Valley’s northeastern hills, Priest Ranch showcases the diversity of the expansive estate, in their expressive Priest Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon ($50). The wine blends fruit from 50 different blocks on the property, bringing an array of textures to the luscious wine, creating overall balance and harmony. As the wine opens aromas of black cherry, cassis, and warm spice lift from the glass, followed by black and blue fruit notes on the palate with notes of dark chocolate, dried leaves, tobacco, and leather.

From high atop Mt. Veeder on the other side of Napa Valley, Brandlin Estate reveals a rugged, mineral-intense earthiness in their bold Cabernet Sauvignon wines, a character I continue to be drawn to as there is almost an Old World charm to each of their powerful selections. Produced from the very best of the best, Brandlin ThS Cabernet Sauvignon ($135) is crafted from the finest barrels of the vintage, hand-selected, and named in honor of the proprietor of Brandlin Estate, Thomas Schmidheiny, toasting the family’s long history and dedication to crafting premium wines from the region. Earthy and dense, the wine opens with toasted cedar and cigar box notes, layered with dried leaves, walnut, blackberry, ripe plum, and currant. The ideal wine for any steak night.

My fabulous Aunt Micki made Christmas Cornish Hens one year stuffed with cranberries and pistachios with a pomegranate glaze. I think I was around 13 years old at the time and I still remember how delicious and precious those little hens were. For anything poultry-wise on your holiday table, Pinot Noir is always ideal. Copain Estate North Coast Trousseau ($42) is elegant and easy, opening with layers of wild raspberry, boysenberry, and lilac, with a mellow, delicate palate of red fruits, warm spice, and soft herbs.

Russian River Valley’s MacRostie Winery toasts the wife of founder, Steve MacRostie with the wine from her namesake vineyard, Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir ($58).  From the northernmost part of the region, where finicky grapes reveal more black and blue fruit notes, melding with black tea and cola, baking spice, and earthy wild mushrooms. A perfect wine for toasting throughout truffle season as well!

Also consider an old vine Garnacha, as it is known in Spain, or a Rhone blend. Highly affordable, and easy to enjoy, Bodega San Gregorio Tres Ojos, Old Vines Garnacha ($8) is produced from vines averaging at least 40 years old in the Spanish DO of Calatayud. Concentrated and structured with richness without being overpowering, perfect for poultry or pork, delivering layers of red fruit, spice, and hints of pepper. Produced with organic fruit in the heart of France’s Southern Rhone Valley, Famille Perrin Nature Cotes du Rhone ($16) blends Syrah with Grenache to create a lively, expressive wine revealing notes of white pepper, toasted spice, wild strawberry, and Herbs de Provence.

If brisket and burnt ends are on the menu for your family feast consider a Zinfandel, like Hartford Family Old Vine Russian River Valley Zinfandel ($45) from the Russian River. We tend to think of Pinot Noir when we think of the Russian River, however, dotted throughout the region you will find old vineyards filled with historic dry-farmed Zinfandel vines, many over 100 years old, yielding very small quantities of concentrated fruit with lush richness and fresh character. The Russian River Zinfandel blends fruit from five vineyard-designated sites ensuring balance with black fruit flavors of blackberry, boysenberry, ripe plum, and baked cherry pie.

Tamales and chili are a staple for my family, served after gifts have been opened and before a rousing round of poker is played. To pair, consider a Tempranillo from Spain or Malbec from Argentina. Rioja DOCa shines as the home of Tempranillo, crafting quality selections that also have incredible approachability for your pocketbook. From vineyards around Alfaro, Bodegas Burgo Viejo Rioja ($12) brings together 50% American and 50% French oak to age their Crianza wine for 18 months, imparting a mix of flavors into the medium-bodied, medium-tannin wine, revealing layers of ripe cherry and berry, toasted vanilla and hazelnut, a touch of black pepper, and black plum. An easy wine to sip and enjoy through the night.

#Cheers and have a wonderful holiday!!!

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