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25 Days of Christmas: Day 25

25 Days of Christmas 2011

WineLIfe365 25 Days of Christmas 2011 - Great Food and Wine

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25 Days of Christmas: Day 23

Check out our kosher wine section today.

After 23 days, how could I possibly resist not having any dessert?  After all, it is the best part of the meal!  Right!?  As in any fine establishment, you can choose between having something light or something that’s a bit more decadent to satisfy your sweet tooth.  Here are a few after-dinner nightcaps that take the cake, or even replace it! :)

  • If you’re one that enjoys the lighter side after dinner, full of healthy fresh fruits – then you can’t go wrong with the Dr. Konstantin Frank 2008 Bunch Select Late Harvest, Riesling from New York’s Finger Lakes (Sample, MSRP:  $69.99/375 ml).It oozes in sweet golden raisins, tangy pineapple and ultra-ripe apple flavors.  It’s pretty sensational, whether you want just a little or a whole lot!
  • How about an elegant sweet wine from the western region of France?   If the sound of crème brûlée whets your appetite, then a Sauterne swimming in creamy vanilla, dried apricot, peach and pineapple just might be calling your name.  Mark, Mark, Mark…look over here.  Well look at that, it’s true a 2005 Chateau Guiraud Sauterne ($69.99, half bottle) is calling for me right now! Gotta run! :)
  • How about a unique treat that’ll have you sailing away to the Greek island of Santorini? A super rich and seductive Greek dessert wine, called Vinsanto, comprised of hard to pronounce Greek grapes like Assyrtiko and Aidani is truly something special that you don’t come across very often here in the US.  This rare Greek dessert wine is a product of extensively ripened grapes, sun-dried for fifteen days and barrel aged to give it deep essences of sweet honey, dry figs, caramel and nuts; providing a sweet warm sensation in the back of your throat.  It’s the nectar of the Gods, I tell you!
  • Finally, if you envision a glass full of dark decadence, with a plate of fresh figs with mascarpone and warmed spiced honey, then you should try a classic, aged port wine.  Just the other night, my wife and I were in that dark hedonistic place with a delicious bottle of  Sandeman 10 Years Old Tawny Port (Portugal) (Sample, MSRP:  $30).It was oozing with caramel, coffee and nut flavors.  The caramel was like the burnt sugar coating on crème brûlée.  My wife, on the other hand, thought it tasted like one of her favorite cupcakes, French Toast!  This is a great entry into aged port wines @ $30.  I’d really love to see where this port will be in 20 or 30 years.  For now, it’s a crazy good way to close out a cold, late December evening.

25 Days of Christmas: Day 22

I was just saying the other day that 2011 has been one incredible journey into the great unknown.  One particular grape that really caught my attention in 2011 was Austria’s signature white grape, Grüner Veltliner.  After tasting so many wonderful expressions of Grüner Veltliner this past year, I have to say that I’m totally perplexed as to why this white wine has yet to find a bigger place in the hearts of white wine lovers.   Is it just the victim of an unpronounceable name or is it possibly just a lack of public awareness…maybe it’s a little of both?  Whatever it is, this is a badass white wine that typically has big citrus, white pepper and mineral characteristics that’s perfect for sipping all by itself, yet pairs like a dream with Asian dishes and healthy stuff like fish and vegetables.

On the 22nd day of this 25 Days of Christmas countdown, there wasn’t any Silent Night being played by the two Grüners that paid us an early Christmas visit:  the  2010 Pfaffl Grüner Veltliner Wienviertel DAC Haidviertel (Sample, MSRP:  $25 US) and the 2009 Laurenz V. Charming Grüner Veltliner (Sample, MSRP:  $25 US).

We fed our two Austrian guests a heap of buttery peas, an assortment of Asian dumplings and large succulent shrimp…and they absolutely LOVED it, I tell you!

Made from 100%, hand harvested Grüner Veltliner grapes; the 2010 Pfaffl Grüner Veltliner Wienviertel DAC Haidviertel has an acidity level that’s off the charts!  It just smacks your eyes into the back of your head!  Toss in a touch of herbs with a peppery finish, and you have one hell of a refreshing and lively wine.  It’ll perk you up so much that you’ll want to replace your morning cup of coffee with it!

Our other Grüner Vetliner was Charming.  Seriously, it was the 2009 Laurenz V. Charming Grüner Veltliner.  Charming seems to be a bit of an understatement:  It had our tongues pulsating and shivering with its big and rich juicy fruit flavors, and smacked us senseless with its intense, white pepper and ginger finish.

I used to think that only New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs could make me shiver and quiver in my furry, moccasin slippers, but Holy Feast of St. Nicholas, you need to check out some Austrian Grüner Veltliners!

Frohe Weihnachten!

25 Days of Christmas: Day 20

Finding the perfect gift can be quite a challenge.  What should I get?  Can I afford it?  Will they like it?  The same holds true in my search for badass wines for the holidays, and sometimes this means asking for a little help – especially on Day 20 of my 25 Days of Christmas.

Hey Frank, I’m looking for a special bottle of red wine that will impress everyone when they see it and have them falling off their chairs after tasting it.  By the way…a first-growth Bordeaux and/or Opus One is not what I have in mind.  Do you having anything else that’s more reasonably priced?

It was my good friend, Frank Pagliaro, proprietor of Frank’s Union Wine Mart who rose to the challenge and pointed me in the direction of the 2009 Clark & Telephone Vineyard “Belle Glos” Pinot Noir.

Checkout the wax seal on this California Pinot Noir! That alone screams, badass!!

 Whoa!  This thing is dipped in wax!!  How often do you come across a wine bottle where you need to pry off a wax coating before you can even get to the cork?  Does this imply that the nectar of the gods is inside this lovely vessel?  Sure, I know it might be one big pain in the ass just trying to open it, but there’s got to be a huge reward, right?

Fortunately, there is a big payoff!

Aside from the impressive packaging, the 2009 Clark & Telephone Vineyard “Belle Glos” Pinot Noir ($50 US) crushes it with bright acidity, a wicked and forceful display of cherry, strawberry, cinnamon and ginger spices, along with hints of licorice, smoke, black currants and spiced tea.  It is the TOTAL PACKAGE…inside and out.

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