Ready or not, it’s time to get festive. Carols and decorations are the order of the day, with a steady diet of Love Actually or Bridget Jones’s Diary on offer on cable television broadcasts.
Wine shops get merry by stocking up on the luxury bottles that are likely complex, concentrated and collectible, but not really suited to entertaining the masses. Instead, here’s a selection of 11 well-priced selections that are sure-fire hits for hosting for the holidays and beyond.
13th Street Winery Gamay 2017 (Canada)
The lighter and brighter red wine style of gamay is gaining traction, which puts Niagara specialists such as 13th Street in an enviable position. The 2017 Gamay captures the red fruit intensity of the grape with some meaty and peppery notes on the nose and palate. Serve slightly chilled for best enjoyment. Available in Ontario and Quebec at the above price, various prices in Alberta or direct from the winery, 13thstreetwinery.com
Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec 2017 (Argentina)
The label reads High Mountain Vines to draw attention to the Catena family’s vineyards located from 920 to 1,450 metres above sea level. Those higher elevation sites contribute to the mix of floral and fruit aromas and flavours as well as the vibrant acidity that balances the robust character. Ripe and flavourful, this is ready to drink. Available in Ontario at the above price, $24.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $25.99 in Saskatchewan, $23 in Manitoba, $24.99 in Nova Scotia.
Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages 2017 (France)
This is easily the best known Beaujolais-Villages label on the market, which can be counted on to deliver a fruity and enjoyable red wine. It won’t bowl you over with its complexity, but there’s a lot of charm in its simple fruit and subtle spice notes. Available at the above price in Ontario, $17.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $14.49 in Saskatchewan, $14.99 in Manitoba, $14.45 in Quebec, $15.49 in Nova Scotia.
Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses Rosé 2018 (France)
Bertrand’s stylish Côtes des Roses Rosé consistently delivers the refreshingly fruity profile that has made it a crowd-pleaser in Canada and beyond. Classic red fruit and watermelon aromas and flavours, with some floral accents, stand out in this off-dry rosé that’s a terrifically festive selection for holiday entertaining. Available in Ontario at the above price, $18.35 in Quebec, various prices in Alberta, $19.99 in Nova Scotia.
Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay 2017 (United States)
For the past 25 years, Kendall-Jackson’s Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay has ranked as the top-selling chardonnay in the United States. Even more impressive, all of that volume comes entirely from family owned hillside vineyards that stretch along the California coast. The winemaking team points out that Monterey County fruit contributes citrus flavours, Mendocino County provides green apple notes and Sonoma County imparts ripe pear. Further south, Santa Barbara County supplies riper tropical notes. This coastal blend is fermented and aged in French and American oak barrels for added richness and complexity. The smooth texture and polished, fruity character makes this easy to appreciate. Available in Ontario at the above price, $20.04 in Manitoba, $23.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta.
Louis M. Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (United States)
Ripe and engaging, Martini’s Sonoma cabernet makes a great first impression with its dark fruit and spice fragrance and silk texture. The ripe fruit flavours are nicely accented by complex licorice and savoury notes on the palate. This always impressive cabernet seems to have taken a step up in quality with the 2016 vintage. Available in Ontario at the above price, $20.99 in British Columbia, $22.99 in Saskatchewan, $19.99 in Manitoba, $24.99 in New Brunswick, $23.99 in Nova Scotia.
M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2017 (France)
This stylish white blend from the Rhône boasts nice concentration, balance and complexity. There’s a lot to enjoy here, especially the winning mix of floral and fruit aromas and flavours and rich, mouth-filling texture. A go-to bottle whenever you’re entertaining or serious candidate for your house white. Available in Ontario at the above price, $18.49 in British Columbia, $15.99 in Manitoba, $20.49 in Nova Scotia.
Mission Hill 5 Vineyards Pinot Blanc 2018 (Canada)
There was a time when pinot blanc was being pitched as one of the Okanagan’s next big things, but attention has shifted toward other more fashionable grape varieties. This fresh and flavourful white is a timely reminder of the grapes discreet charms. Not as exotic or intense as sauvignon blanc or pinot gris, this has the weight of chardonnay with brighter acidity. Its price certainly adds to the charm. Available in Ontario at the above price, $14.99 in British Columbia, $16.95 in Quebec.
Rodney Strong Vineyards Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (United States)
A tremendous introduction to Sonoma cabernet, this ripe and juicy red wine offers attractive plummy fruit, peppery spice and sweet oak notes. The texture is appealingly smooth, with only a hint of classic cabernet tannins on the finish. Always a robust and plush red wine that’s easy to appreciate. Available in Ontario at the above price, $27.49 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $24.25 in Quebec.
Thirty Bench Winemaker’s Blend Riesling 2017 (Canada)
This terrific expression of Niagara riesling exhibits sweet and sour flavours that make wonderfully mouthwatering. Attractive fruity aromas and flavours are on display, with backbone of zesty lime acidity that refreshes the palate. It’s a flavourful style that’s enjoyable with or without a meal. Available in Ontario at the above price or direct from thirtybench.com.
Zuccardi Q Malbec 2017 (Argentina)
This is a ripe and lively malbec that showcases the back to the future winemaking style at Zuccardi. Looking to maintain freshness and purity, the team ferments the grapes in concrete and ages the wine in a mix of concrete and older French oak barrels to soften it, without contributing spice or vanilla flavours. The result is a red wine with attractive texture and stuffing. Drink now to 2025. Available in Ontario at the above price, $24.99 in British Columbia and Alberta, $23.99 in Manitoba, $22 in Quebec, $24.80 in Nova Scotia and $24.99 in New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
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