Keep festive dinner wine choices simple…

  • Dec. 15, 2017 10:30 a.m.

Regardless of your religious or ethnic affiliation, there’s so much going on over the festive season that you don’t need something else to fret over.

With some of the amazing wines that are bargain priced on the shelves this December, there’s no need to blow your budget, either.

Speaking on AM 1150 in Kelowna, Okanagan wine expert, Jim Martin was clearly impressed with a pair of wines from Prospect Winery. Prospect Winery Council’s Punch Bowl Sauvignon Blanc (402305) $7.99: “Displaying copious amounts of lush tropical pineapple, grapefruit, and kiwi fruit with hints of fennel, sage, and tarragon, this is a delicious North American version that pays homage to New Zealand but still retains the North American influence.”

And Martin was just as impressed with Prospect Winery ‘Major Allen’ Merlot (158139) $8.99 on the Friday, Dec.8 AM 1150 show with Phil Johnson: “A delicious wine with buckets of ripe, juicy blackberry, cassis and raspberry fruit with liquorice, vanilla and cedar, the super soft acidity and lush tannins are perfectly in balance.”

Keeping quality wines affordable often extends beyond British Columbia’s borders. Begun in Bilyara, Australia in 1966 by German immigrant Wolfgang Franz Otto Blass, Wolf Blass Wines redefined quality winemaking in that Land Downunder. The first Wolf Blass Yellow Label wines were produced from the 1966 vintage.

Regularly priced at $15.49, Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay (226860) is great value at $11.99, further marked down from its sale price of $13.49. Much leaner, subtler and more food friendly than many whites from Oz with bright notes of apple and pear sliding into subtle tropical fruit, creamy vanilla and toasty oak in every sip of this elegant wine.

Marked down $3.50 from $16.49 to $12.99, Wolf Blass Yellow Label Shiraz (506691) is hard to pass over. Undeniably berry fruited with a dash of peppery spice in the finish, this is a righteously restrained style of Shiraz amongst the may fruit bombs from Australia. Blueberry, blackcurrant and blackberry notes are long and enticingly fresh in this medium bodied red.

Like their French neighbours, Italians are acknowledge widely for centuries of obsession with food and wine. In 1935, in northeastern Italy’s Veneto, Gaetano Marzotto created a huge agricultural complex which eventually fostered the Santa Margherita Wine Group, named after his beloved companion, Margherita Lampertico Marzotto.

Crisp notes of ripe apple, lemon, grapefruit and an underlying sprinkling of crushed almond and anise have helped Santa Margherita Valdadige Pinot Grigio (106450) $15.99 stand out from the crowd of competing Italian white wines for 50 years – even at its regular price of $19.99! Bone-dry, this bright white is underpinned by a lean, chalky minerality.

With its limits defined and proclaimed by Gran duke Cosimo III de’ Medici in 1716, Chianti is a blended red that must contain at least 80 per cent Sangiovese wine grapes. Today’s Chianti Classico is a higher classification, coming from the original heart of the Chianti region.

A very modern blend 0f 85 per cent Sangiovese and 15 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Margherita Chianti Classico (565697) $24.99 opens with dried cherry and sweet vanilla aromas that signal the first wave of leathery plum and cherry flavours. Darker berry fruit flavours lift off the tongue, mingled with earthy old oak notes.

Kendall-Jackson’s vineyards include 11,000 acres of cool California coastal regions atop mountains, ridges, hillsides and benches. While growing grapes in high-elevation vineyards is difficult for both the vintner and the vine, these elevated sites clearly produce grapes with the richest, most intense flavours.

A masterful blend of California Chardonnay – 47 per cent from Monterey, 30 per cent from Santa Barbara, 22 per cent Mendocino with 1 per cent from Sonoma – Kendall-Jackson 2015 Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay (296566) $24.79 was judged #28 on Wine Spectator’s list of Top 100 wines of 2017. It overwhelms the senses with mango and pineapple aromas and flavours over a base of crisp citrus, honeyed apples and pears with persistent buttery oak notes.

Entirely a Sonoma grown wine, Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (427153) $27.95 is an excellent value alternative to Napa with its rich black berry fruit, cedar and chocolate notes. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are blended with Merlot for softness, Cabernet Franc for tannins, and Petit Verdot to enhance the mouthfeel.

Not much time left… Cheers!

Reach WineWise by emailing douglas_sloan@yahoo.com

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