The Wine Whisperer: Holiday selections

With the clock running out on 2009, I thought it would perhaps be fitting to look at a few wine gems for the end of the year. These are wines that I believe will make holiday dinners just a little more fun.

The folks at Spindrift Cellars in the Willamette Valley are doing a great job on everything they are making. I have thoroughly enjoyed every release so far and look forward to what the future holds for this very nice winery.

Spindrift Gewerztraminer: This wine is simply stunning in every respect and deserves a place at the table. This spicy yet drier offering has one thing that so many Gewerztraminers lack: body and weight. So many Gewerztraminers seem sweet and airy and lose some translation on the weight of the palate. I have tasted otherwise nice Gewerztraminers on the Oregon scene only to have them fall flat in the finish and on the mid palate. This wine is lush, thirst-quenching and brings density on the palate, which makes it perfect for most holiday fare with, of course, the exception of heavy red meats. We had this wine the other night with turkey and it hit the spot! Most Gewerztraminer are known for spice and freshness; this wine has both in abundance. A real winner.

Spindrift reserve Pinot Noir: My favorite reserve from Oregon to date. This wine aches with Pinot flavors that seemingly go on forever. The non-reserve from this vintage won a gold medal at last year's Newport Seafood and Wine Festival and wowed the judges. The reserve has more of the best stuff and is a serious contender to anything Pinot Noir can deliver. I have tasted French Burgundy with very high prices that cannot compare to this beauty.

  • Tyee Pinot Noir: Here's a guy sitting at about 35 bucks that remains a charmer in every way. I have always liked this Pinot and continue to think of it as not only a well-made wine but a wine with fine sophistication, length and superb Pinot Noir complexity. Very nice indeed. This is the perfect wine with salmon.
  • Portacollo Spanish white wine: Spanish white wines are becoming fashionable and offer great bang for the buck. This is a white wine that delivers lovely fresh flavors, almost citrus in the finish, but also has a very lovely bouquet. This is a white wine lover's dream and continues to give a wonderful performance throughout the white wine world.
  • Vorehijon: This is the other white of great note from Spain. It continues the great tradition of these cuisine-friendly white wines and is impressive not only for the balance of the wine but for the elegance that it brings to the table. What a nice pair of wines!
  • Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc: The South Americans are becoming the guys to reckon with as far as the reds and whites of great value are concerned. This chateau boasts a pedigree from the great Chateau Lafite in Bordeaux, France, and is living up to its tradition. I love this white wine for its brilliance and cleanliness, as well as its ability to cross over from seafood to fowl very easily. Sauvignon blanc can be problematic in some areas and from many wineries but this little hummer is just the ticket. I do not know a better wine under 20 bucks in this varietal.
  • Other wines to search out for good bargains from nice varietals:

Nero d' Avola from Sicily: These wines can be great bargains while offering fruit, substance and good price points, many under the $15 mark.

Spanish Tempranillo and Tempranillo — Shiraz blends: I love what the Spanish are doing with the mighty Tempranillo red wines. Now, some of them are blending Shiraz (Syrah) into the mix and are coming out with very, very nice red wines, in fact some of the best around. This combination is beginning to turn heads in the wine world and many of these wines are well below the $20 mark while offering great flavor, complexity and length. It seems that we will be getting on the shelves many more of these delightful blends in the coming months and the wines I have been tasting lately have been just very nice indeed.

As the Oregon wine guru at Roxyann Winery, Ned, reminded me the other day, "We live in great wine times!" Ned's right again!

See you next time with a rundown of wonderful sparklers for the New Year's eve finale.

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