By Celia Strong
This time of year most of us need more wine than usual. Extra stress. (Always my favorite excuse!) More dinners with friends, not even counting holiday dinners. More hostess gifts. Multiple presents for people where nothing but a bottle of wine will do. The list is long and gives us ample reason to indulge in multiple wines — some new ones, and some old favorites.
Let’s start with Hugel Gentil. This is a blend, “eidelswicker” if you like, from the Alsace region of France. It uses Riesling for elegance and minerality, Pinot Gris for body, Gewurtraminer for aromas, Muscat for fruit and Sylvaner for refreshing elegance. The name “Gentil” translates as “nice,” which totally describes this wine. Great with turkeys and hams. For $13.99.
A new white is Outlot Chardonnay. From the Alexander Valley in Sonoma County, this is an exceptional Chardonnay. A combination of both California and French styles gives it appeal to many. Aromas and flavors include warm apple pie, baking spices like cloves and cardamon, flowers, honey, apples, peaches, pears, apricots, vanilla and butterscotch — all the result of California soil and climate and French oak barrels. All for only $15.97.
Left Coast White Pinot Noir is also new. All the other Left Coast wines are great, and this one is no exception. White Pinot Noir wine is made from red grapes but with no skin contact, so almost no color but more body and weight than a typical white wine — and you can drink it chilled or at room temperature. Peaches, apricots, poached pears, honeydew melons, all finishing with a crisp minerality. For $19.99.
A French rosé is a requirement on most wine lists. The Bertrands Elegance Rosé is from Provence and arrives in a particularly good-looking bottle. Always an added plus when the bottle is a gift. Elegance is clean, crisp and dry with a long mineral finish. In blind taste tests it shines over many better-known rosés. For $19.99.
For red wines, we can start with Hess Select Treo. From a Napa Valley icon, this red is a blend of 36 percent Petit Sirah, 28 percent Syrah, 18 percent Zinfandel, 9 percent Merlot, and 4 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a rich, fairly big red with layers of dark red and black fruit flavors, a juicy texture and soft, plush tannins. Hard to not love it for $16.99.
Finally, a Napa Cabernet, Terra Valentine Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon. Spring Mountain vineyards are at higher elevations, so their weather is cooler, which means the grapes warm during the day and cool overnight, creating multiple levels of flavors and textures in their wines. This wine is bold and totally rewarding, like great friends. Maybe not an everyday wine, but one that’s sure to make any day or dinner as special as the recipient. For $54.99.
This should give you a start on holiday wines. More to come — and bubbles, of course. Enjoy.
Celia Strong works at Bill’s Liquor & Fine Wines on Lady’s Island.