16 Value Wines for The 12 Days of Christmas
by Steve Thurlow
The Twelve Days of Christmas, with a gift for each day like a partridge in a pear tree (among other bizarre gifts), is supposed to start on Christmas Day; my Twelve Days starts on Christmas Eve.
Moreover, since I am not good at choosing gifts for the twelve days, I thought instead I would select wines for you for these days of feasting with family and friends. After checking my current Top 50 Best Value wines at LCBO I have chosen 16 wines to get you through the holidays. 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 like Santa Carolina 2015 Chardonnay Reserva ($11.95) which is a creamy, fresh and very juicy white with just a touch of oak for added complexity. For a red selection, let me recommend Goats do Roam 2014 Red ($12.95) from South Africa. It is a consistently great value midweight red with vibrant acidity and juicy red berry fruit and soft tannin.
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 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 ($15.35). 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 2013 Pinot Noir ($13.95) from Chile would be another good choice for this occasion. It’s midweight and very fruity with mild tannin and some nice spicy complexity.
On Boxing Day we traditionally organize a beef dish for the main meal. So it’s time for some full-bodied reds. Wynns Coonawarra Estate 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (now $24.95 for a limited time, was $27.95) is an elegant, pure, very smooth, complex cabernet. It is not a big red, so look elsewhere for power but treasure the creamy texture and pure fruit. There are about 30 very positive reviews for this superb Aussie cabernet on WineAlign so please give it a try – plus it’s $3 off at present. Another choice could be Santa Carolina Reserva da Familia Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($18.95). You will be enthralled by this opaque purple wine with its perfumed aromas of berry fruit, mint, herbal and dark chocolate complexity.
Sunday 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 Frisky Beaver 2013 White from Niagara ($13.95) is an aromatic blend of five white grapes, quite rich with fruit sweetness that’s well balanced by acidity. Firestone Vineyard 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from California ($19.90) is an elegant well priced cabernet from the cooler Santa Ynez Valley just north of Santa Barbara. It has a fragrant nose, vibrant palate and excellent palate length.
Monday comes and it’s back to work for three days, and a break from feasting for many, but the festivities will recommence on Thursday, New Year’s Eve.
New Year’s Eve is the day when many will be toasting the start of a new year with sparkling wine. It does not need to be an expensive affair. For example, why not choose Veuve Ambal Cremant De Bourgogne Grande Cuvee Brut ($17.95) a fresh creamy bubbly from Burgundy in France. It is a nice sipping wine that goes well with pastry nibbles. If you are looking for a nice sipping red for party food then Emiliana Adobe Reserva Merlot 2013 ($12.95) from Chile would be a good choice. It’s a polished organic merlot with clean, lively, bright aromas and flavours.
New Year’s Day is often another occasion for a long lingering lunch with roast or grilled meats. This year we will be having a hearty beef casserole with a thick meaty dark brown sauce and root vegetables. A good choice for wine would be the superb Pascual Toso Limited Edition 2012 Malbec ($16.05) from Argentina. It is full bodied with powerful aromas and flavours, a very even palate and excellent length. As an alternative, a midweight selection could be Lavau 2011 Cotes du Rhone Villages ($13.50) from France. The red berry fruit with sweet oak spices is well balanced by some fine tannin that will stand up well to the rich stew.
Once Saturday rolls around it will be time for a change of pace and a rest from kitchen chores. Chinese delivered to the door gets my vote. Lots of variety here and many dishes to choose from but I have two wines in mind for two of my frequent selections. The Wolftrap 2014 Syrah Mouvedre Viognier ($13.95) is great with Chinese beef and broccoli. This deeply coloured Rhone-style blend is midweight and quite savoury with soft ripe fruit supported by fine tannin. For Chinese shrimp with cashew nuts I love the Wolf Blass 2014 Yellow Label Chardonnay ($14.95). It is a modern, fresh, minerally chardonnay with just a touch of oak and a long, fruity finish.
Sunday brunch, with some seafood on offer, could be accompanied by Monkey Bay 2014 Pinot Grigio ($13.95). It comes from the warmer Hawke’s Bay region in New Zealand. It’s fresh, 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 Chateau des Charmes 2013 Gamay Noir ($13.95 ) from Niagara. It’s light to mid-weight, juicy and fresh with good acidity and very good length. Great value.
After all that the holidays will be over. In case I did not select a wine for your occasion, remember that there are another 34 other wines on my Top 50; many less than $10. 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 list in our Top 20 Under $20 January report.
Best wishes to all for Happy Holidays with family and friends and I hope the New Year will bring you every desire.
Editors 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 great value wines!