On the Five Days of Christmas…

by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

I know there are supposed to be Twelve Days of Christmas and one’s true love sends you a partridge in a pear tree, among other bizarre gifts, but actually this year most of us will only be feasting for a mere five days starting on Christmas Eve. So I put my mind to imagining not which gifts I would send but which wines I would be buying for these five special days. After checking my current Top 50 Best Value wines at LCBO I chose two for each day, all under $15. So here we go:

On Christmas Eve I imagine many will be giving or attending parties with nibbles, hors d’oeuvres, cheese plates, sausage rolls and the like. This calls for easy drinking, lively fresh wines. Cono Sur Bicicleta 2014 Viognier (9.95) is a delicious aromatic fresh white from Chile with lots of flavour and it is probably the best value white wine at the LCBO. For a red selection, let me recommend Cusumano Syrah 2013 ($11.95) from Sicily. It is a vibrant pure cool climate syrah with a fragrant nose and lots of flavour, mild tannin and it comes with a glass stopper, so there’s no chance of a corked wine!

Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2014 Cusumano Syrah 2013 Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los Arcos Errazuriz Estate Series Merlot 2012

Roast turkey will be on the menu for Christmas Day Dinner in many homes. It is often a rich meal with the turkey and stuffing served with a rich thick brown gravy. It is tough to find a white wine for this, however dry aged fortified whites from Jerez in Spain are usually up to the task. Try Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los Arcos ($14.85). It is a very complex powerful wine with a rich intensely flavoured palate that lingers forever. It comes with 18.5% alcohol yet it’s finely balanced and is fantastic value. You will find it in the fortified wine section near the ports. Errazuriz Estate Series 2012 Merlot ($9.95) from Chile would be another good choice for this occasion. It’s midweight and very fruity with mild tannin and some nice spicy complexity.

Luccarelli Primitivo 2013 Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2012On Boxing Day we traditionally organize a beef dish for the main meal. So it’s time for some full-bodied reds. Trapiche Broquel 2012 Malbec 2012 ($14.95) has lots of charm, a gorgeous nose, great depth of flavour and excellent length and it is fantastic value. Another choice could be Luccarelli 2013 Primitivo from Puglia in the south of Italy, where Primitivo is the local name for Zinfandel. This opaque purple wine comes with ripe brambly aromas and flavours with some mild tannin and a long fruity finish.

Saturday is often the day for leftovers from the turkey dinner. I often conjure up a risotto with turkey meat and some of the vegetables, stuffing and sauces that are in the fridge. The Wolftrap White 2013 ($13.95 plus 5BAMs) is a rich delicious wine from South Africa and, though fun to drink on its own, will nicely match such a rich risotto. Pessoa Da Vinha 2010 Reserva Douro ($12.30 plus 5BAMs) from Portugal would be a great red wine for the same dish. It is exceptional value for a fruity well structured red with fragrant, pure berry aromas.

Sunday brunch, with some seafood on offer, could be accompanied by Monkey Bay 2014 Pinot Grigio ($13.95 +5BAMs). It comes from the warmer Hawke’s Bay region in New Zealand. It’s fresh and pure and fragrant with pear and melon fruit toned by minerality with hints of lemongrass. A good choice for a lively fresh red for brunch would be Cono Sur Bicicleta 2013 Pinot Noir ($10.95). It is very quaffable with juicy raspberry and cherry aromas and flavours. There is nothing to compete for less than $11 for such quality in pinot noir.

The Wolftrap White 2013 Pessoa Da Vinha Reserva Douro 2010 Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014 Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2013

In case I did not select a wine for your occasion, remember that there are another 40 wines on my Top 50. So check out more wine values by dipping into the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste. In the New Year, I will be back with a look at the updated Top 50 list in our January WineAlign Top 20 Under $20 report.

Best wishes to all for Happy Holidays with family and friends and I hope the New Year will bring you every desire.

Steve Thurlow

Steve’s Top 50 Value Wines

Note: You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to reviews of great value wines!

BAM= Bonus Air Miles until January 3, 2015


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