Having many holiday wine choices means more fun sharing

October 14, 2023

Prepare for upcoming holidays with some sparklers. Prices will be rising soon. J Vineyards and Winery sampled me Sparkling Brut Rosé NV Russian River Valley and Cuvée 20 Brut. They probably viewed my J Brut RRV writeup a few weeks back. Cuvée 20 is more favorably priced around $30, 89 McD. Dry with bright acidity supporting stone fruit, brioche, a hint of honeysuckle and vanilla aromas. Nice with smoked salmon and shellfish appetizers. Their Brut Rosé is more festive, 91 McD under $40. Pale plum-colored, lots of bubbles. The nose really opened as it stood in the glass. Look for raspberry, cherry, orange zest. Appetizer cheese and holiday “can o’ peas" with fruit go well.

How about Anne Amie Marilyn Brut Rosé Twelve Oaks Estate Chehalem Mountain Oregon, 100% Pinot Noir? Barbara and I visited Anne Amie and observed parts of the process. They take great care. Cool fermentation. The matte (skins, stems, seeds) is cold stored until the juice goes to tannin extraction. The extracted juice is separated, from free run to several levels of gravity pressed, then fermented in stainless or natural oak, then tasted, blended and bottled. Next, the bottles are aged three years, sur lie, en tirage. After disgorgement, dosage and recorking, they are cellared a minimum of four months before sale. I bet some are anticipating big bucks. However, the 93-point 2017 is selling at $45 and the 2018, 92 McD, at $40. Keep in mind these are vintage, not NV. Excellent QPR. The 2018 shows cherry, croissant and plum aromas with cranberry and rhubarb pie flavors on the rich, balanced palate, with a long, clean finish.

Martini & Rossi may conjure up martinis or Manhattans for some. How many readers are aware the company produces Asti Spumante at reasonable prices? The Asti Spumante DOCG can be found for $156/case of 12 or under $15/bottle, 88 McD. Vinified Moscato grapes, fermentation is at 7.5% alcohol, so it is a tad sweet, shows vanilla icing, peaches and elderflower aromas. Frothy bead with bright acidity balances its semisweet flavor. Goes great with stollen, pumpkin and mince pie, or tiramisu. 

I write about Dolcetto infrequently. It’s sometimes derided as the poor cousin of the big three grown in Piedmont, Italy: Nebbiolo, arguably the king; Barbera, the bulk provider and Dolcetto, which when blended provides acidity, earthiness, and almond and licorice notes. An exception is Pecchenino San Luigi Dogliani Dolcetto DOCG. The 2019 is on sale in New Jersey under $18 and can be ordered in Delaware, 91 McD plus 2 price points. Ruby with violet highlights, it is fruit-forward with currants, raspberries, boysenberries. Medium body is nicely balanced with sweet tannins and proper acidity. The 2021 is being heavily touted at 92 points and $17/bottle. I have not sampled it yet. Why Dolcetto? Tony Galloni wrote that San Luigi DOCG was exceptional in most vintages. At the time, I was rereading Roman history. Janus was referred to as the god of chaos. After four years of Latin with Dr. Rossi, a great teacher, I knew better. Curious, I learned through translator: Dogliani is a mutation of Dolium Jani, meaning "the wine jar of Janus," from a legend that the Roman god Janus stopped to enjoy its wines. These were stored in earthenware dolia (wine jars). Janus is the god depicted with two faces. In Roman mythology, he oversaw beginnings and endings, especially regarding war and peace and journeys. I nearly discarded the food recommendation as possibly a deal breaker, but changed my mind. Goes great will roast rabbit livers. Although rabbit is the “chicken” of large parts of Italy, I eschew its organs.

Please read an Oliver Styles piece about choosing wine, titled “Picking the Perfect Christmas Wines.” The article is more about hedonism, and it contains a little trick. Trust your own perception and me.


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