by Laura Ness
Whether you need unique wines for gifting or entertaining, why not choose some distinctive and unusual California wines? Here are a few sure bets for the Twelve Days of Christmas and beyond:
2012 Ser Wines Sparkling Riesling, Wirz Vineyard, Cienega Valley, San Benito County, $36
This is a “lemonade” story wine: the Riesling grapes were a bit under ripe for still wine, so winemaker Nicole Walsh turned to Barry Jackson, local Santa Cruz “Champagne King,” to make a sparkling out of it. Yeasty, earthy aromas lead to flavors of Golden Delicious apples, lime, Asian pear and quince. This is really special stuff. Not bad for lemonade! Delish and unique, by one of the region’s most talented winemakers, who’s been making Bonny Doon wines for over a decade.
Chesebro 2013 Grenache Rosé, Carmel Valley, 3 for $40: This versatile, palate-cleansing beauty is just what you need for the holiday table. Stock up now! Normally $16/bottle, it’s on sale for the holidays. 3 bottles $40, 6 for $75 and 12 for $140.
Wrights Station 2010 Faraway Block Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, $39: From brand new winery, Wrights Station, located in the Summit area of the Santa Cruz Mountains, comes this fruit-laden berry happy Pinot aged for 22 months in a combination of new and gently used French oak barrels. 170 cases produced.
Loma Prieta 2010 Sierra Ridge Pinotage, Amador County, $25, reg $45: From a ridgetop vineyard in Gold Country comes this tasty mélange of ripe red berries, caramelized walnut squares and savory red onion jam. It’s packed with plenty of brown sugar, dates and dark licorice, along with an earthy richness that coats the palate, but remains energetic from start to enticing finish.
Comanche Cellars 2011 Chardonnay, Arroyo Seco, $30: Barrel-fermentation gives this peach cobbler and lemon bar wine a generous mouthfeel and a long toasty-pleasant finish. Set your inner cowgirl or cowboy free with this flirty filly that finishes with toasty macadamia nuts, salted caramels and coconut. This wine is available as a two-pack for 25% off retail.
Chesebro 2009 Le Montagne Sauvage, Carmel Valley, $23: This mighty marriage of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre just took best of class at the 2014 Grand Harvest Awards. Densely layered, it offers up flavors of plum jam, smoked meat with orange peel and tarragon, blueberry jam and sage molasses. Complex, intense and deeply aromatic, this one will wow your guests.
Gift Packs For Truly Deserving Wine Lovers
You might actually find yourself on this list this year! treat yourself or someone special to one of these unique and impossible to find elsewhere gift packs.
Holman Ranch “Pinot Experience” Six-Pack, Carmel Valley, $180: Pinot lovers everywhere can put their taste buds to the test and enjoy these six amazing wines side by side. Each one is a separately-vinified clone of Pinot, all estate grown in the Carmel Valley. Give a Pinotphile the ultimate gift, or buy one for yourself to spice up your holiday table and really keep the conversation interesting.
McGah Cellars Trio Gift Pack, Rutherford, Napa, $108: McGah Family, early investors in the Oakland Raiders, is offering a special 3-pack of Napa Valley wines from their estate property in Rutherford for the holidays. Enjoy a 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, the stunning 2011 Scarlett Cabernet Sauvignon and the righteous 2012 Petit Verdot, for just $108. These boldly flavored wines have amazing labels and are beautifully packaged, too.