By Laura Ness
If you live on the Central Coast and want to entertain a crowd with local style, here are a dozen wines for the Twelve Days of Christmas and beyond:
Carraciolli Cellars – Go for the 2007 Brut if you’re a purist ($54), or the 2007 Brut Rose ($57), if you want something with a bit more fruit. Visit the tasting room in Carmel and splurge on a bottle of either or both of these real Methode Champenoise beauties. Pick up a bottle for New Year’s Eve for yourself as well. Both are available in magnums for maximum bubbly merriment.
Note: Loma Prieta in the Santa Cruz Mountains should have a Blanc de Noir in stock for the holidays! See lomaprietawinery.com for details.
2012 Morgan Double L Riesling, Santa Lucia Highlands, $22. A zippy, zingy, thirst-quenching rendition that will have your taste buds dancing a jig. At Taste Morgan in the Barnyard shopping center.
2011 J McFarland “Tribute” Riesling, $19. Just the right balance of acidity and brisk fruit, this wine is not sweet, but rewards with flavors of crisp, ripe apple. At Zeph’s and Star Market.
2011 Mercy Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Arroyo Seco, $16. Rich in texture, yet imbued with plentiful acidity, this white grapefruit, Asian pear and melon-laced wine will whet your whistle nicely. At the Carmel Valley tasting room.
2010 La Marea Albariño, Monterey, $22. Bracingly refreshing as a seaside walk on a winter’s day, this alluring wine has abundant citrus and firm nectarine flavors, and is an all around superb food wine. At Trio in Carmel.
2012 McIntyre Estate SLH Chardonnay, $28. This wine embodies the essence of the Santa Lucia Highlands with its aromas of baked golden apples, ripe pears, butterscotch and lemon cream pie. At the McIntyre Tasting Studio at the Hyatt Monterey.
2011 Wrath San Saba Estate Chardonnay, $49. A full throttle, oak-laced stunner with amazingly persistent acidity and a texture that is addictively rewarding. At the Wrath tasting room in Carmel Plaza and at the winery.
Lighter & Fruity
2011 Joyce Vineyards Carmel Valley Pinot Noir, $50. So silky smooth and filled with racy acidity, this is a splurge wine for those of you who like the sensation of a ballerina dancing en pointe all across your palate. At the tasting room in Carmel Valley Village.
2011 Holman Ranch Heather’s Hill Pinot Noir, $37. Classically Burgundian in style and made of Calera and Pommard clones, this well-tailored Pinot is packed with impeccable layers of raspberry jam, pomegranate, porcini, dry-cured ham and hints of rye. At the tasting room in Carmel Valley Village.
Pinots With A Bit More Grip
2012 Talbott Vineyards Logan Pinot Noir, $25. Genuine Pinot aromas of forest floor, flint and brick, with earthy, meaty flavors, like chestnut puree and cherry orange bitters. At the tasting room in Carmel Valley Village, the River Road tasting room, and select retail outlets.
2011 Puma Road Pedregal Vineyard Pinot Noir, Paicines, $30. A juxtaposition of weather and place, this substantially well-endowed Pinot has deep, dark fruity flavors and a powerful surge of energy that commands attention. At the River Road tasting room and in Carmel.
Earthier & Meatier
2010 Guglielmo Winery Barbera, Estate Private Reserve, $25. Nicely vibrant acidity braced with blackberry and spice. Wonderful food wine. At the winery in Morgan Hill.
2011 J. Lohr “Gesture” Zinfandel – $25. Lovely, lively with raspberry and red plum, this is Zin to excite. Great with hard cheeses. At the tasting room in San Jose or Paso Robles.
Bold & Hearty
2010 Comanche Cellars Mission Ranch Syrah, $30. Flavors of tangy plum tart, ginger, soy sauce, and spicy olive tapenade excite the palate, and sip after sip reveals yet another delicious layer, all the way to a firm, rich coffee-tinged finish. At Taste of Monterey. Also online.
2010 Scheid Triple Layer Red, $28. This triple play of bright, ripe raspberry fruit of Grenache, jammy lushness of Syrah, and the subtle spiciness and earthiness of Mourvèdre make for one heck of a fun wine that will delight your guests. At the tasting room in Carmel or on 101.
Bordeaux For Those Who Must
2011 Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Coast, $30. Classic Cabernet aromas with pepper, tobacco, leather and cassis. Bring on the beef! At the Hahn tasting room and select retailers.
2009 Heller Estate Petit Verdot, $50. Seriously inky stuff, with massive juniper, black olive and black currant, underpinned by fine-grained tannins. At the Heller Estate tasting room in Carmel Valley Village.
For those of you who don’t live near the California Central Coast, most of these wines are just a phone call away. Call the winery and order a bottle sent to arrive at your front door just in time for your holiday gathering.