It’s the heart of the holiday season and if you’re still looking for gifts or bottles to pour at parties to ring in 2019, here are some of my favorites from a year of tasting and traveling.
Affordable Party Wines
2016 Bodegas San Valero ‘Particular’ Cariñena, Spain $10
Not only is Cariñena one of Spain’s best value wine regions, it’s also the name of a grape variety. This spicy red is ideal for pairing with just about any food. Buy it by the case.
Pizzolato Fields Prosecco DOC, Treviso, Italy $10
Made with organically-grown Glera grapes, this is a bargain for bubbly drinkers.
2016 Cashmere Red Wine, California $15
From Sonoma’s Cline family comes a crowd-pleasing blend of red Rhone varieties. With a splash of holiday color, the packaging is stylish for gift-giving, too.
Palmer & Co Brut Reserve Champagne, France $60
If you love sparkling wine as much as I do, Palmer is a worthy discovery. Its class and complexity are apparent in every sip of this glorious Champagne.
Domaine Carneros ‘Jardin d’Hiver’ Ultra Brut, Carneros, California $59
The New World outpost of Champagne superstar, Taittinger, Domaine Carneros crafts bubbles that rank among the best in the world. This limited-edition sparkling is a treat for any time of the year.
Impress for Less than $25
J California Cuvée, California $25
A beautiful bubbly to span the seasons, the J is crisp and juicy. Ideal by itself to indulge before dinner, it’s layered and structured enough to pour throughout a meal.
2017 Susana Balbo ‘Brioso’, Valle de Uco-Mendoza, Argentina $24
Lush and full with a kiss of oak, this blend of Semillón, Torrontés and Sauvignon Blanc is a statuesque white that is imposing yet alluring.
2010 LAN Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain $24
There is no better value in the red wine world than Gran Reserva Rioja. With years of aging, this smooth red is worth twice the price.
Diamonds of Napa Valley
2015 Lyndenhurst Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California $85
This vibrantly supple wine offers chance to see why Spottswoode is one of Napa Valley’s classic stars and one of its iconic wine producers.
2016 Shafer Vineyards TD-9, Napa Valley, California $60
In an ode to the history of the famed winery, this lush blend is named for the TD-9 tractor John Shafer used when he started the iconic property in the 1970s. If you really want to splurge pick up a bottle of their Hillside Select ($295). It’s is one of my choices ‘Best Cabernet Sauvignon in the World’ status.
Listen to my podcast with Doug Shafer to find out more about their history (and mine).
2015 Groth’Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California $150
If I scored wine, this one would deserve a perfect 100 points. It has everything a world-class Cabernet should have – structure, dark-fruited intensity, cellar worthiness, and impeccable balance. Love.
Pierre Ferrand ‘Ambré’ Premier Cru Cognac, France $80
As one of Cognac’s most celebrated producers, this silky, medium-bodied, aromatic version from Pierre Ferrand is an ideal way to begin exploring the beauty of Cognac.
Suntory Hibiki Whisky, Limited-Edition Bottle, Japan $115
In my opinion, Hibiki is the pinnacle of Japanese whisky with its elegance and style. This stunning Limited-Edition bottle is a piece of art. Drink the whisky then save the bottle.
El Tesoro Añejo Tequila, Mexico $55
I just returned from a visit to El Tesoro. What an amazing spot to see. Using traditional methods to craft tequila from the Jalisco Highlands, this creamy, vanilla-scented spirit with a touch of herbal freshness is aged in bourbon barrels for up to three years. Indulge yourself…you’re worth it.
Have you ever tried wines from Virginia? You should. A historic wine region with a modern twist, it’s an emerging hot spot with wines that are garnering attention. One of the producers to look for is Early Mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s a winery to watch.
2016 Early Mountain Vineyards, ‘Foothills’ blend, Virginia $27
A supple red blend led by Merlot and Petit Verdot with a mélange of other varieties including the white grape, Petit Manseng. Delicious.
2017 Early Mountain Vineyards, Rosé, Virginia $25
As a pink wine fan, I’m always on the hunt for swoon-worthy versions and found one in this delectable sipper. It’s like a ray of sunshine – drinking a glass just puts a smile on your face.
“Eat Chocolate, Drink Wine”, Cliff Family Winery $75
This delectable bundle includes a bottle of the 2016 Gary’s Improv Zinfandel, as well as three tins of Cliff Family dark chocolate goodies. Let me tell you…the chocolate-covered Toffee Pistachios are fabulous (and I’m pretty sure they’re very good for you).
The category of Cider is growing. The best versions are succulent, racy and complex. Eden Specialty Ciders from Vermont is creating excitement with their wide range of sips. Working with heritage apple varieties, their high-quality ciders even include a Rosé style. Sign me up.
Eden Heirloom Blend Ice Cider $25
Eden’s Heirloom Ice Cider takes up to three years to produce and you can taste the care that goes into this decadently delicious drink.
Eden Dry Sparkling Heritage Cider, Extra Sec $15
As a lover of all things bubbly, this sparkling Cider won my heart. It’s tangy and dry with a juicy kick. A wonderful way to begin your Cider journey.
Stocking Stuffers and More!
Traveling Vineyards ‘Three Hearts’ Rosé, Pays d’Oc, France $19
The result of my partnership with Traveling Vineyard is a dry pink wine named for the special relationship I share with my mom and daughter. Who are your three hearts? Share a bottle with them this season!
Repour Winesaver $9
This wine preserver is easy to use and effective. It’s a must-have for any wine drinker.
Wine Nots $10
Who wants wine stains on their teeth? You don’t need to worry about that with stocking-stuffer worthy Wine Nots.
Marin Cheese Company, Baked Brie en Croute $15
When I tasted this creamy round of deliciousness, I was ready to eat the whole thing myself! You will too.
Last but not least, if you want to read about wine as WELL as drink it, try these two awesome reads.