Great Gift Wines

In the midst of the holiday season, wine lovers are buying bottles for all sorts of occasions. Whether you are looking for a gift or just a nice wine to bring to a holiday party, the Rogue Valley has an abundance of special labels. Lorn Razzano, owner of the Ashland Wine Cellar, says this season's hottest wines are ports, zinfandels and sparkling wines.

"Sparkling wines are huge," Razzano says. "The Italian proseccos are big right now."

Prosecco is a dry, bubbly, white wine made from prosecco grapes in the northern Veneto region of Italy, according to, and is made using the Charmat method rather than the French Champagne method. LongSword Vineyard in the Applegate Valley makes an Italian-style semisparkling chardonnay, called Accolade, that's about as close as Southern Oregon can get to prosecco. Described as a mouthful of fruit with a hint of sweetness and just enough effervescence to tickle your tongue, Accolade is prepared in stainless steel — not oak — giving it a clean, crisp, delicious taste.

"It's a very special wine, perfect for food pairing with holiday dinners," says LongSword distributor Jon Galfano. Accolade is available for about $20 in LongSword's tasting room in the Applegate, Tark's Market in Talent, Gary West Meats, Jacksonville Mercantile and The Jacksonville Inn Wine Shop in Jacksonville, as well as Harry & David Country Village in Medford.

A good, fleshy zinfandel also is rare in the Rogue Valley, but that hasn't stopped Troon from producing its 2009 "Kubli Bench" Zinfandel. Described as bearing flavors of bright cherry and spices, like cinnamon, allspice and clove, it's very balanced — not heavy and powerful like a lot of Napa Valley zinfandels.

"It's our signature wine," says Christine Collier, Troon's director of retail operations. "Zin was one of the first plantings at Troon in 1972."

With 14 percent alcohol, it pairs well with all different kinds of cuisines. Collier says the tasting room at Troon has been sold out of the wine since this summer, shortly after it won double gold at the Oregon Wine Awards, but it is still available for about $20 at Market of Choice and Shop'n Kart in Ashland.

Collier says the winery hopes to produce 900 cases of the zinfandel next year to avoid selling out.

Lastly, a classic for the holidays is, of course, ports. From tawny to ruby to vintage ports aged 20 years and more, ports go all the way up the ladder from $15 to $100. Razzano says about 70 percent of the wines he sells between November and the first week of January are ports.

An affordable, local port is Weisinger's 2007 Barile made entirely from cabernet sauvignon grapes. Barile is described as having notes of butterscotch, deep, ripe, black cherries, coffee and chocolate with a velvety mouth feel. Perfect for sipping after a meal, the port is available for about $35 in Weisinger's tasting room, 3150 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

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