Whether selecting wine for a party or for a gift, California has something for everyone.
Sleigh bells in the air, stockings on the fireplace and the bright glow of red, green and gold flashing from the rooftops. It’s Christmas again and here at The Wine Country we enjoy being Santa’s little helpers to find that perfect gift.
We have worked hard all year long to find the great deals in the crowded wine marketplace to make holiday shopping easier to find that great bottle of wine you’ve been looking for. I’ll use this time here to feature some of the more premium wines in our domestic department, some of the stuff that maybe you have been putting off buying until the holidays.
First off is a fun little red blend from Los Angeles based Nomadica ($6.59 per 250ml can) that is packed full of ripe berry flavor. I mentioned little because it actually comes in a small 250ml can (1/3rd of a bottle) that would fit perfectly in a gift basket, stocking or even just to bring along to your next picnic.
If that special someone in your life prefers a full bodied red blend, we have some amazing stuff from premium Napa Valley winery, Shafer. ($62.99) If you’re not too familiar with this smooth Merlot-based blend, it's because the wine is only in its second vintage of existence. The previous vintage was released to widespread critical and customer acclaim, but Shafer somehow was able to surpass all expectations with this current release.
The holidays for many people can be a time of indulgence, and these next two Pinot Noirs bring an elevated intensity of flavor that can match the holiday spirit and festivities. When I previously worked in restaurants and customers couldn’t decide on what bottle of wine to choose, I would usually recommend the EnRoute Pinot Noir ($60.99) from the Russian River Valley. The wine has a riper fruit profile and luxurious oak spice while still retaining classic Pinot Noir bright acidity. This wine would make an excellent gift for anyone looking to outdo Santa this year.
The Dutton-Goldfield Fox Den Vineyard Pinot Noir, ($62.99) is another impressive wine that showcases the power and intensity that the Russian River Valley can impart. It brings a generous cherry cola character, full, rich mouthfeel, complex oak spice and soft tannins that melt in your mouth.
December is also the season for high-end Cabernet Sauvignon and The Wine Country is stocked with quality picks. Old classics like Napa Valley Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon ($119.99) can still be found with its expressive violet and black currant aromas as well as Shafer One Point Five Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon ($96.99). Some of the vineyards in this blend are used in the coveted Hillside Select, which the store also carries in case you’ve been on the nice list this year, and this wine and producer are definitely considered benchmarks for quality when it comes to Napa Valley Cabernet.
The holiday season usually brings out a good amount of Prisoner Red Blend wine fans, so I wanted to showcase original Prisoner winemaker Dave Phinney’s newest release, 8 years in the Desert ($47.99). This Zinfandel-dominant blend is made to highlight soft tannins and rich expressive dark fruits. Smoke and spice are not in short supply here along with power and intensity.
I hope this list will help cross off some names for your holiday shopping and give you some suggestions you maybe weren’t considering before. Remember to pair whichever wine you choose with good friends and a nice holiday meal. Hope to see you at The Wine Country this holiday season.
Nomadica Red Wine Blend, California
Nomadica is a Los Angeles-based wine company making some of the best craft can wine in the marketplace. Their labels feature local artists, and for this wine, Kareena Zerefos uses watercolor and pen to create a beautiful rainbow deer. The wine is a Syrah based blend from the French Camp Vineyard in Paso Robles, giving it a high-quality fruit source that many other can wines don’t have. Bright black cherry and violet aromas are found here with aging done in neutral French oak.
$6.59 per 250ml can
2016 Shafer Vineyards "TD-9" Red Wine, Napa Valley
The search for a vineyard with hillsides and thin volcanic soils led John Shafer to Napa Valley from Chicago in 1972. It was here that he would teach himself to drive a TD-9 tractor at nearly 50 years old, an extreme change of pace for the former corporate executive. Shafer has been producing wine since 1978 and their decades of experience have resulted in their wines being some of the most sought out and highly rated. The wine is rich with black and blueberry fruit, balanced oak presence and a creamy vanilla mouthfeel. This blend of 58% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Malbec is a new offering from the winery and based on how great it turned out the first of many to come. Aged for 20 months in 100% new 60 gallon French oak barrels.
$62.99 per bottle
2013 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
"Our 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is dark ruby in color and entices you with a nose of raspberry, cassis and loose pipe tobacco. This full-bodied wine has an assertively silky structure and is notably spicy on the palate. Flavors of sage and blackberry mark the wine’s entry. The strong acidity in the mid-palate is followed by a lingering finish. Given proper cellaring, this wine will provide drinking pleasure through 2038."
$119.99 per bottle
2014 Dutton-Goldfield Pinot Noir Fox Den Vineyard, Russian River Valley
Back in 1998 Steve Dutton and Dan Goldfield agreed to team together to create premium wine that showcases its vineyard source. Steve is in charge in the vineyard as his farming family background has had him helping in vineyards since he was five. Dan handles the winemaking as he is a UC Davis graduate who has worked at such prestigious wineries as Schramsberg, La Crema and Robert Mondavi. The Fox Den Vineyard is at the western edge of the Green Valley which is cooled by the remaining coastal fog that makes it inland. The wine is full of ripe strawberry and spiced black cherry from 55% new French oak. 16 months aging develops soft voluptuous tannins that make this wine a pleasure to drink.
$62.99 per bottle
2015 Enroute Pinot Noir "Les Pommiers" Russian River Valley, Sonoma County
EnRoute is a project from the makers of Far Niente so you can expect high quality to be found in the vineyards and winemaking cellar. The “Les Pommiers” title comes from the fact that an abandoned apple orchard in the cool Green Valley area of the Russian River was converted to a Pinot Noir vineyard for EnRoute. This wine is an excellent example of the powerful black fruits that the Russian River Valley can bring to this grape along with smooth velvety tannins. Juicy red cherry and a slight herbal earth element can still be found here along with wonderful oak barrel spice aromas from 11 months aging in 40% new French oak.
$60.99 per bottle
2017 Orin Swift "Eight Years in the Desert" California Red Wine
This vintage marks the 20th year that Orin Swift has been in business and this is the wine that has reunited winemaker Dave Phinney with the Zinfandel varietal that got him started all those years ago. After selling the Prisoner brand he agreed to not make a Zinfandel wine for 8 years. Dave feels that when you make Zinfandel right it can reward you like no other grape and it’s hard to argue when he produces a quality wine like this. Black fig, dark chocolate and blackberries are some of the bold flavors found here along with pepper, fennel and wild herbs. The wine is a Zinfandel dominant blend with Syrah and Petite Sirah added as well. Aged for 8 months in French oak with 30% new oak.
$47.99 per bottle
2015 Shafer Vineyards "One Point Five" Red Wine, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley
The name for this luxurious wine comes from the 30 plus years of father John Shafer and son Doug Shafer’s experience working together, a generation and half as they term it. The first vintage of Shafer One Point Five was in 2007 and the wine is created from their famous estate hillside vineyard and their nearby “Borderline” vineyard along the southern border of the region. 7% Merlot and 3% Malbec provide rich blackberry, and black cherry fruit with a pleasant cocoa mouthfeel and slight smoke and spice. 20 months aging in 100% new French oak give this wine an opulent length.
$96.99 per bottle