Let’s say you could only order 12 bottles, but you wanted a bit of every style. Here’s what we’d pull together – a list of each varietal we’d choose, and a recommendation for each.
Champagne: Bollinger Brut Special Cuvee ($59.99) – one of my favorite NV Champagnes, the Bollinger is a full-bodied, rich and creamy sparkler. It is ideal for holiday dinners and celebrations, though drinking it is a celebration in itself.
Other Sparkling: Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose ($19.99) – Not only is it good to have a value bubbly around, but it’s good to have a rose as well. We love this producer, region and style. Beautiful color, fresh on the palate, delightful all around.
Riesling: Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling ($19.99) – I was pouring this wine when I met my husband, we served it at our wedding, and we always break it out when we order in good Chinese food. Bright fruit, excellent acidity and firm minerality. It’s Riesling all the way – not sweet, but just a hint off-dry. Hard to tell with the puckering acidity it gives you though. Great sipping wine, great with food.
Viognier (or Viognier blend): d’Arenberg The Hermit Crab Marsanne/Viognier 2008 ($15.49) – Excellent example of a Vigonier blend – this wine is 72% Viognier, showing the floral and perfumed nose of the grape. Lots of apricot and peach come through, but with excellent acidity coming from Marsanne.
Chardonnay: Two options here because with Chardonnay I’m always torn – I like that big, rich style (if well-balanced) from some California producers, but I also love a crisp, classy Chablis. Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay ($59.99) – I am a devoted follower of this rich, creamy and decadent wine. It has that rich creaminess of a California Chardonnay, balanced by tart acidity and a super long and layered finish. Joseph Drouhin Chablis Premier Cru 2009 ($34.99) – crisp, mineral-driven with layers of flavors and a lingering finish. Chablis shows its stuff with some age, too.
Spanish White: Pick up some Albarino or Godello, or, if you’re feeling really daring, some Txakoli. Rafael Palacios Louro Do Bolo Godello 2007 (16.99) – A fantastic deal for an old-vine Godello. If you like old-school, old-world whites, like white Bordeaux, Loire Chenin Blanc and Mosel Rieslings, you must try Godello. It’s vibrant and balanced, with excellent character.
Must have a token Rose in your case. My all-time favorite go-to Rose? Mulderbosch ($11.29) – Made from Cabernet Sauvignon and hailing from South Africa, the wine is dry and crisp, with a fragrant nose and delightful body.
Pinot Noir: Adelsheim Pinot Noir 2008 ($29.99) – combining the earthy subtleties of France with the rich fruit of California, Oregon Pinot Noir hits the right note. From the acclaimed 2008 vintage, we love this Adelsheim. It shows lots of bright cherry fruits, a hint of spice and some herbal notes. Quite elegant and definitely food-friendly.
Red Rhone: Perrin Vinsobres Les Cornuds 2007 ($19.99) – Perrin is an excellent producer, 2007 was a banner year, and Vinsobres is a hot, new region. The combination makes this a delicious (and affordable) wine choice – for parties, dinners, whatever.
Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux blend: Frog’s Leap Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($39.99) – I truly love this wine. Not an over-the-top Cabernet from California, this wine has structure and finesse. It has backbone, yes, but it does not knock your socks off with over-ripe fruit and high alcohol. Perfectly balanced is the best way to describe it.
Malbec: Bodegas Norton Malbec Reserva 2007 ($15.99) – Ripe, spicy and dense, just as a Malbec should be, the Norton one of those well-balanced Malbecs that make you crave another sip, again and again…
Italian Gem: Vietti Barbera d’Alba or Asti Tre Vigne – Love all of Vietti’s wines, but he makes an excellent Barbera in the $20 range that is fantastic – lighter bodied, with bright acidity, velvety tannins and a smooth finish. It represents Italy well.
Enjoy building your case!