Before the shopping frenzy begins in earnest, now is the time to lay in a stash of wine for the holidays. No plonk allowed. This is the time to bring out some interesting bottles that everyone from novice to wine aficionado will appreciate. They don’t have to be ruinously expensive, though. We’ve rounded up some excellent food-friendly wines from around the world suited for the holiday table — most well under $25.
1. 2014 Domaine des Terres Dorées Beaujolais Blanc Chardonnay $15-$18 (Beaujolais, France)
Yes, they do make Chardonnay in Beaujolais, too. The revered winemaker Jean-Paul Brun produces a fine Beaujolais Blanc from his vineyards in the terres dorées (land of the golden stones) in the south of Beaujolais. The 2014 is fresh and crisp, with notes of lemon and slate and a beautiful complexity and balance This is the wine to pair with oysters or a seafood platter. A great value, too.
Look for it at Domaine LA in Hollywood, Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, Wally’s Wine & Spirits in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, Wine House in Los Angeles and Woodland Hills Wine Company in Woodland Hills. From $15 to $18.
2. 2013 Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir “Tavola” $19-$26 (Willamette Valley, Oregon)
Ponzi Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs have been benchmarks for more than two decades. The Reserve is consistently excellent, but for everyday drinking, winemaker Luisa Ponzi has introduced “Tavola.” Think of it as Pinot Noir 101. Blended from sustainably grown grapes from as many as 10 vineyards, it’s made in a fresh and lively style for drinking now. This youthful Pinot leads with lots of supple, bright fruit — raspberry, cherry, plum — woven with sweet spices, licorice and gentle tannins.
Look for it at Hi-Time, Fine Wine House in Los Angeles, K&L Wine Merchants in Hollywood, Vendome in Beverly Hills and Wally’s Wine & Spirits in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. From $19 to $26.
Wine importer Marc de Grazia’s basic Etna Rosso from Sicily is a red wine steal. Made from the Nerello Mascalese grape and just 5% Nerello Cappuccio grown on Mt. Etna’s volcanic soil, the 2014 Tenuta delle Terre Nere layers the flavors of dark berries with wild herbs, spices and a touch of smoke. A versatile food-friendly red, pair it with a cheese and charcuterie plate, salmon, prime rib or an elegant crown roast of pork. If you can spend more, search out the impressive Terre Nere single vineyards — Guardiola, Feudo di Mezzo, Calderara Sottano.
Look for it at John & Pete’s in West Hollywood, Mission Wines in South Pasadena, Monopole Wine in Pasadena, Total Wine & More at various locations, Wally’s Wine & Spirits in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, Wine Club in Santa Ana, the Wine Country in Signal Hill. From $19 to $22.
4. 2013 Tercero Verbiage Blanc $18-$20 (Santa Barbara County)
Larry Tercero is a talker, which is why he named his first Rhone-style white “Verbiage.” A blend of Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier from Santa Barbara County, the 2013 Verbiage has a lovely floral perfume and silky texture. Rich and creamy, it carries notes of sweet spices and white peaches. Pair it with Asian food, scallops or other seafood in sauce, even a simple roast chicken. Or just enjoy it on its own. Keep an eye out for Tercero’s other whites, too.
Look for it at Lincoln Fine Wines in Venice, Manhattan Fine Wines in Manhattan Beach and Wine Exchange in Santa Ana. From $18 to $20.
5. 2013 Consilience Pinot Noir $22-$24 (Santa Barbara County)
Consider this Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir a real find for the price. Known for their Rhone varietal wines, Consilience has been making Pinot Noir from their vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills for only a couple of years. The 2013 is light and graceful, very smooth and easy drinking, with good structure and balance and a long sweet finish. It’s food-friendly enough to pair with everything from salmon and chicken liver mousse to the roast turkey with all the fixings.
Look for it at Whole Foods markets at various locations and Wine House in Los Angeles, among others. From $22 to $24.
6. 2014 Aia Vecchia Vermentino Toscana $12 (Tuscany, Italy)
A lovely soft round white from Tuscany made from Vermentino and a touch of Viognier evident in the wine’s lush perfume. With its citrus notes and bright juicy fruit, Aia Vecchia’s Vermentino shows just how elegant Vermentino from this part of Tuscany can be. Pair it with holiday hors d’oeuvres, smoked salmon and shellfish. It would also hold its own with roasted root vegetables or the Thanksgiving bird. And what an astonishing bargain for the quality.
Look for it at the Flask Fine Wine & Whiskey in Studio City, Wine Connection in San Diego and the Wine House in Los Angeles. About $12.
A blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Counoise from four distinct regions in Paso Robles, this velvety Rhone-style red is rich in dark fruit, spice and herbal notes. With its fine structure and minerality, the Patelin rouge carries the true taste of the southern Rhone, albeit with a Central Coast accent. It’s a terrific value, and eminently food-friendly. Pair this one with the roast beef or turkey.
Look for it at Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Santa Ana, John & Pete’s in West Hollywood, Wade’s Wines in Westlake Village, the Wine Club in Santa Ana, the Wine Country in Signal Hill, the Wine House in Los Angeles and Woodland Hills Wine Company in Woodland Hills. From $17 to $20.
8. 2014 Loosen Bros. Dr. L Riesling $10-$13 (Mosel, Germany)
Mosel wine producer Ernie Loosen’s basic Riesling is a great buy for the holiday table. Slightly sweet, it has the tartness and minerality so characteristic of wines from steep Mosel vineyards. The 2014 Dr. L is refreshing, scented with lime and honeysuckle and tasting of honey, ripe melon and pineapple. All this for $10? Seems kind of unbelievable. It pairs great with Indian or Thai food, salads and cheese.
Look for it at Green Jug Fine Wine & Spirits in Woodland Hills, Lincoln Fine Wines in Venice, Los Angeles Wine Company in Los Angeles, the Wine Country in Signal Hill, Wine Exchange in Santa Ana, Wine House in Los Angeles. From $10 to $13.
9. 2014 Julien Sunier Régnié $25 (Beaujolais, France)
A very pretty, delicate Beaujolais from one of the smallest Beaujolais crus and vines that are up to 55 years old. Julien Sunier’s style is understated and elegant, floral and gently spicy, with the taste of raspberries coming through. Sunier’s Morgon and Fleurie crus, like the Régnié, are made from densely planted old vines farmed biodynamically and are worth seeking out too. A Beaujolais cru like this one can pair with practically anything on the holiday table. A keeper.
Look for it at domaineLA in Hollywood and Wine House in Los Angeles. About $25.
10. 2014 Schloss Gobelsburg “Gobelsburger” Grüner Veltliner $16 (Kamptal, Austria)
A crisp, dry Austrian white from an Austrian monastery in the Kamptal region that has been making wine since the 12th century. Now made by Michael Moosbrugger, this Grüner Veltliner is organic, fermented and aged in stainless steel to keep all of its aromas and minerality intact. Scented with lime, green apple and white pepper, “Gobelsburger” pairs beautifully with seafood, Asian food and turkey — and with soft cow’s or goat’s milk cheeses.
Look for it at domaineLA and K&L Wine Merchants in Hollywood and Wine House in Los Angeles. About $16.
11. 2011 Bodega Palacios Remondo La Montesa Crianza $15-$25 (Rioja, Spain)
One of Spain’s superstar winemakers, Alvaro Palacios grew up in Rioja, but made his name in the Priorat region. Some years ago, though, he agreed to take over his family’s languishing Palacios Remondo estate in Rioja. With stricter vineyard practices and skillful winemaking, he’s turned the venerable estate around. The 2014 Crianza from La Montesa Vineyard is a fresh and vibrant blend of mostly Garnacha with Tempranillo and a touch of Mazuelo tasting of cherries, pomegranate and plums. The suave tannins mean you can drink the 2011 La Montesa now, or age it for a little longer. A Rioja with an easygoing elegance at well under $20.
Look for it at Flask Fine Wine & Whiskey in Studio City, Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Santa Ana, Wally’s Wine & Spirits in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, Wine Exchange in Santa Ana, Wine House in Los Angeles. From $15 to $25.
12. 2014 Domaine de la Voute des Crozes Côte de Brouilly $20-$22 (Beaujolais, France)
Ruby-violet in color, this Côte de Brouilly from Nicole Chanrion tastes of cherries, cassis and crushed raspberries. Lightly spicy, it is very balanced and powerful, with a long satisfying finish and silky mouthfeel. A wonderful buy at this price from one of the Beaujolais region’s most dedicated winemakers.
Look for it at Envoyer Fine Wines in Irvine, Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, K&L Wine Merchants in Hollywood and Lincoln Fine Wines in Venice. From $20 to $22.
13. 2012 Lang & Reed North Coast Cabernet Franc $22-$28 (California)
It’s beginning to feel like winter, which means it’s time for a sturdy, delicious red like this North Coast Cabernet Franc from Lang & Reed. The Skupny family has been into Cabernet Franc since the early ‘90s, and for this 2012 bottling, they gathered up grapes from Lake, Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties — quite the mix of terroirs. Earthy and lush, this one has deep dark fruit, a whiff of wild herbs and berries and that black pepper punch so characteristic of Cabernet Franc.
Look for it at John & Pete’s Fine Wines & Spirits in West Hollywood, K&L Wine Merchants in Hollywood, Los Angeles Wine Company in Los Angeles, Manhattan Fine Wines in Manhattan Beach, Wally’s Wine & Spirits in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, the Wine Country in Signal Hill, Wine Exchange in Santa Ana, Wine House in Los Angeles, Woodland Hills Wine Company in Woodland Hills. From $22 to $28.
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