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Christmas Wines

Rebel Rose

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Here's an article from the San Francisco Chronicle recommending some delicious and budget-sensitive cabernets:

The bad news is that bargain Cabernets are not a great category. Cabernet Sauvignon is widely considered the king of grapes, but the king doesn't like being handled like a pauper, as is usually necessary for low-price bottlings. Many Cabs under $10 are harshly tannic, overly oaked and lacking in fruit. People drink them and think that scraped-tongue, dry-mouth feeling is a necessary part of the experience, but it shouldn't be.

Now here's the first piece of good news: There are exceptions. I punished my palate with more than 30 losers to find these 10 winners.

What will you be buying for Christmas gifts and dinner?


Mary Baker

Solid Communications

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Most of what I've been compelled to buy recently is not ready to drink yet (mainly 2003 CdP) so I actually decided not to buy and am going to serve a few bottles from my collection. We are having a small plates dinner with a number of types of meat and fish, so we are having.

2002 Kistler Chardonnay Hudson

2002 Kistler Chardonnay Camp Meeting Ridge

2003 DuMol Pinot Noir Finn

1993 Silver Oak Alexander Valley

1994 M. Chapoutier Cote Rotie La Mordoree

1996 Arrowood Syrah Sara Lee's Vineyard

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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Wines enjoyed at Christmas:

Starting with the Sauvignon of Oxford landing with a traditional meat ball soup. The crisp sauvignon had the perfect acidity for thr citrusy touch of the soup. A very clean, fresh and well balanced wine.

Gewurztraminer Villiera 2004 proved a very good match to shrimp cocktail.

Valpolicella Cesari 2003 is probably one of the better vintages to come out of this winery. Extra body and fruit without loosing its local touch.

Cuvee Irini Tzoraa, Israel 1996 remains still as a family favorite bringing plenty of flavors and memories together.

Mormoreto Fresscobaldi 1996- simply exciting with a wonderfully complex nose that seems to be blown to is fullest proportions, layers of flavors kept the drinkers smiling to the end.

Cognac Henessy Extra to end the meal did not fill my expectation in terms of complexity and my second glass was turning rather boaring and somehow too fruity and oily for my taste.

The Satinella by Marques de Caceres and the Beaujolais Nouveay by Bichot filled up the gaps between meals.

Happy Holidays to all

Andre Suidan

I was taught to finish what I order.

Life taught me to order what I enjoy.

The art of living taught me to take my time and enjoy.

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What we drank (more detailed notes to follow in a separate thread):

1996 Pierre Peters "Cuvee Speciale" Brut Blanc de Blancs, Le Mesnil sur Oger Grand Cru.

1998 Domaine de Montille Volnay "Les Taillepieds" Premier Cru.

2002 Donnafugata Ben Rye Passito di Pantelleria.

Dinner was a last-minute invitation acceptance from friends since both our families had plans surrounding Christmas Day, but nothing on the day itself. They cooked, and I brought the wine.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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Here's what my wife and I drank:

-Krug Grande Cuvee NV (to begin the evening)

-1999 Tollot-Beaut Corton Grand Cru (with the roast duck)

PS Lest anyone think that we drink wines like this all the time, let me correct you. These were for a special occasion, selected from the "Morris Family Cellars"...also known as the case of wine that sits at the back of my wife's walk-in closet. Obviously, we need MUCH more storage space.

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Cooking dinner for a few friends here the wines were:

99 Paradise Ridge 'Inspirations' Ladi's Vineyard (a cab/syrah blend) which I had while cooking dinner

Before dinner:

96 Gloria Ferrer Royal Cuvee

With dinner

01 Sanford Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills

01 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cab

after dinner

03 Zin Alley Zinfandel Port Paso Robles

Charles a food and wine addict - "Just as magic can be black or white, so can addictions be good, bad or neither. As long as a habit enslaves it makes the grade, it need not be sinful as well." - Victor Mollo

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With assorted sushi and other nibbles: 96 Egly Ouriet

With roast beef, veg, etc.: 99 Lafarge Volnay Vendages Selection and 97 Insignia

With assorted cheeses and desserts: 97 Cuvee Constance and 01 Yquem (the latter sacrificed in the name of science, of course)

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Quiet Christmas dinner with the Mr. I made a dinner of roast duck breast in a cabernet port sauce with balsamic onions and corn on the side. I served a 2000 Domaine du Pere Pape CDP La Crau de ma Mere. The wine and food went well together, with the wine displaying lots of life yet with full, dark fruit and a bit of a 'raisiny' character (or was that brought out by the port in the sauce? hmmm). Yummy by all accounts...



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After a very mellow day hiking in the woods with the dogs, my wife prepared a beautiful rack of lamb with chanterelles, risotto and broccoli rabe. We drank:

1997 IGT Cabernet Sauvignon "Collezione de Marchi," Isole e Olena (with dinner)

1989 Vouvray "Aigle Blanc" Vin de Tris, Prince Philippe Poniatowski (with cheese)

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That's a nice lineup of wines.  How many guests?  Are you preparing all the small plates yourself or is it a collective effort?

Sorry I didn't respond sooner, but I headed up to our house immediately after posting this and didn't have internet access.

The small plates dinner was a somewhat collective effort. We had 11 guests. I made 6 dishes (1 with my wife), my mother made 2, and my wife and her mother made 1. I tried to pick wines that would cover the breadth of the dishes (we also had 2 desserts, one made by me -- chocolate souffle -- and one by my wife's uncle (Christmas pudding):

- Pork Loin w/Fig Sauce

- Braised Quail

- Bacalao a-Pil-Pil

- Lobster and Corn Chowder

- Short Ribs w/Egg Noodles (Mom)

- Macaroni and Cheese (Mom)

- Asparagus w/Asparagus Sauce

- Potatoes in the Style of Quercy

- Sweet Yams (wife & MIL)

All of the dishes came out well with the exception of the Bacalao, which I believe was the result of the quality of the cod filet (for some reason they salted the cod on the bone, but the best parts of the filets had been removed -- something I realized after I completed de-salting -- and I would have been better off with salted boneless filets of hake or pollock.) Oh well, too much food anyway.

In any case, we actually only finished off 3 of the bottles at the meal and I drank a fourth nearly by myself. The two Kistlers are still up at the house awaiting another meal.

2003 DuMol Finn - Very drinkable now. This seemed less tannic than a lot of the Russian River pinots and less that the 2002 Finn. If I hadn't known, I might have thought it was a Carneros. The fruit flavor is very pure and this was a lovely wine to drink. Excellent accompaniment to the quail.

1996 Arrowood Syrah Sara Lee's Vineyard - This syrah is fully mature with little tannin and a pure blackberry flavor. Had another bottle a few years ago and the few extra years benefited it immensely (still too tannic the last time). Perfect compliment to the pork.

1993 Silver Oak Alexander Valley - I have had this wine many times and, while not the greatest vintage for Silver Oak, this wine has been consistently pleasing and popular whenever I have served it. Worked very well with the short ribs.

1994 M. Chapoutier Cote Rotie La Mordoree - To be honest, I have a lot more experience with Hermitage than Cote Rotie, but being a huge syrah fan I have been trying to buy some more. I purchased this wine at auction and, after the dust settled and everyone left, I sat down and drank most of this bottle myself. The wine is extremely harmonious, with blackberry, smoke, and meat flavors and a beautiful aroma. The balance of this wine is excellent and it is fully mature. In fact, drinking it transported me back to vacations in the Rhone. To me, this was the best wine of the bunch and I am thrilled to have been able to drink so much of it myself. :biggrin:

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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