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Winebits 365: Christmas wine edition

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Christmas wineChristmas wine advice and news from around the Internet:

Ripe and lively: Terrific Christmas wine advice from Susy Atkins at London’s Telegraph newspaper. “This year I’m seeking fresher, more vivacious styles of red for the big day. Fed up with the many heavy, tannic, even jammy wines out there (blame the more commercial producers in hot-climate areas), I favour a red with clean acidity and bright, lively, red-fruit flavours to cut through the richness of the whole feast.” Which is actually good advice for all year. And for those of you who worry about the differences between British and U.S. english, Atkins doesn’t use Happy Christmas or Father Christmas in the article.

What to get the boss? Food and Wine offers Christmas gift suggestions for everyone imaginable, from bosses to wine snobs to teachers. It’s clever, and if some of the wines will be hard to find or cost too much, there are some well-thought choices. The two sparklings, both French chenin blancs around $15, show how far bubbly has come from the days when all we had was poorly-made California “champagne” and the real stuff with its real stuff price tag.

Readily available: This list, from the well-regarded Fred Tasker, features wines that won’t be hard to find, including many for sale in grocery stores. And any list that includes the South African $10 Beach House sauvignon blanc gets high marks from the Wine Curmudgeon.

Christmas wine 2014

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• Order by noon Monday for holiday delivery for the cheap wine book


Christmas wine 2014Wine suggestions for the holiday next week, whether you need to buy a gift or aren’t sure about what to serve family and friends, be it for dinner or just because:

Sileni Pinot Noir 2013 ($16, sample, 12.5%): This red wine from New Zealand has been winning awards around the world this year, and why not? It tastes like pinot noir, with dark cherry fruit, soft but still noticeable tannins, and no hint that the wine wants to be anything other than pinot noir, like lots of alcohol or over the top jamminess. If it doesn’t taste like red Burgundy, and I don’t know why it should, it tastes like what it is — one of the best pinots at this price from anywhere in the world.

Grgich Hills Merlot 2010 ($42, sample, 14.8%): Another remarkable effort from Grgich, which has been making this sort of wine for so long we tend to take it for granted. This California red somehow combines high alcohol with style, finesse, and even some earthiness. Look for red fruit and an almost licorice finish. It’s big enough for red meat, but well made enough to enjoy without it.

Chateau d’Archambeau 2012 ($14, purchased, 12.5%): Just when I’ve given up on finding white Bordeaux that tastes like white Bordeaux — minerality and crispness without an overabundance of citrus fruit — along comes this French white, made with two-thirds sauvignon blanc and one-third semillon. Nicely done, and worth the extra couple of bucks compared to something like Chateau Bonnet. Sip on its own, or with holiday turkey.

Argyle Brut 2010 ($22, purchased, 12.5%): Argyle always seems to show up in holiday wine roundups here, but there’s a reason for that. It’s one of the best sparkling wines, dollar for dollar, made in the U.S. — about half the price of its California counterparts, and with that much better quality than less expensive California bubblies. Lots of apple fruit, but also some creaminess. Drink for toasting or with almost any food that isn’t prime rib.

Hacienda Araucano Reserva Carmenere 2013 ($10, sample, 14%): Carmenere is a red grape from Chile that is supposed to vaguely resemble an earthy merlot, but mostly tastes like grocery store merlot. This wine, from the same family that owns Bonnet, is carmenere the way it should be, and especially at this price. Look for black fruit and some grip, a welcome change from all of the flabby carmeneres on the market. Beef wine without a doubt.

More about Christmas wine:
Christmas wine 2013
Christmas wine 2012
Wine of the week: Astoria Prosecco NV
Wine of the week: Little James’ Basket Press NV

Holiday wine gift guide 2014

wine-gifts-christmas-bottle-bags-burton-+-burton-2019-31
Holiday wine gift guide

Silly yes, but who wouldn’t get a kick out of the High Heel Wine Bottle Caddy?

Holiday wine trends 2014

If you go by my email, the hottest holiday wine gifts this year are accessories — every day has brought yet another news release with lots of exclamation points and breathless prose. But gadgets, as always, are not at the top of the Wine Curmudgeon’s recommendations. Because the math rarely works out: How many $100 accessories are worth 10 bottles of quality $10 wine? This year’s recommendations are after the jump:

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