Retailer Wine Selections

For this issue, we asked members of the Beverage Dynamics National Retailer Wine Panel to recommend some of their favorite wines for holiday drinking. These selections represent a wide range of styles, from top champagnes to robust reds. As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’€™s retail price (which varies from store to store and market to market). If you’€™re a retail beverage professional who would like to learn about participating in our panel, call Richard Brandes at 212-353-3832, or email him at


(95) Champagne Henriot Brut Millésimé 1998 (France). Nearly half and half Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, all of the grapes from Grand and Premier Cru vineyards; a bright pale gold with straw hints, and a fine bead; n othe nose, there is spice, tropical and tree fruit, all clean and bright; the palate is focused and weighty, with citrus and tree fruit notes, accompanied by a lovely textured liveliness; the exquisite finish is full and balanced. ($95)

(95) Champagne Pol Roger, Brut Vintage 2000 (France). With more Pinot Noir than Chardonnay, the glass sparkles with a bright, pale gold and a stream of fine bubbles; the nose is an elegant balance of fruit, toast and a hint of floral notes; the focused palate reveals a broad range of fruit, with hints of spice, floral notes, as well as a trace of toastiness; a superb finish, balanced and focused. ($110)

(95) Roederer Estate L’€™Ermitage Anderson Valley 2002 (California). Elegant and fruit driven; nice baked apple, fresh bread, crisp mineral nuance and a decadent structure to hold them all together; the beads of bubbles are also impressive as they are tight, tiny, and deliver that beautiful atmosphere when sipping a glass on the back patio; the finish is excellent, as it continues to deliver long after the first swallow. ($39)

(95) La Stoppa Malvasia Dolce Frizzante (Italy). From Colli Piacentini in Emilia-Romagna; vinified like Moscato D’€™Asti; sweet and bubbly with luscious flavors of peach, apricot, citrus; 6% alcohol; simply delicious. ($20)

(95) Domaine De L’€™Aujardiere Pinot Noir Rose Vin de Pays de Loire 2009 (France). Gorgeous pale ruby color with aromas of wild flowers and dried fruit; bold flavors of baked cherries oat the palate and lead to a long, very dry and crisp finish. ($16)

(95) Whitehall Lane Generations 3 Napa Red 2008 (California). A superb blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 10% Syrah; this new offering showcases rich, ripe flavors of dark cherry, cassis, plum and a hint of anise; a well-balanced gem that has a long, intense finish with just the right amount of tannins and a touch of cocoa. ($35)

(95) Hollis Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). Luxurious,elegant and hedonistic; a perfect balance of ripe and rich dark fruits, deep dark chocolate, vanilla and friendly tannins; bring on the prime rib. ($40)

(94) Turnbull Cabernet Sauvignon Weitz Napa Valley 2006 (California). Another great value from talented winemaker Peter Heitz at Turnbull in Oakville; a classic big, rich, concentrated wine full of deep dark cherry, cassis, and ripe blackberries; a graceful layer of cocoa and fresh roasted coffee bean to balance things out; good firm tannins to give structure. ($45)

(94) Mettler Old Vine Zinfandel ‘€œEpicenter’€ 2006 (California). Huge and succulent with tons of hazelnut and blueberry; layers of complex fruit and secondary flavors with brilliant acidity that was very refreshing on such a big wine; very nutty throughout with a juicy finish; a hidden gem for those zin-lovers out there. ($18)

(94) Laetitia Reserve du Domaine Pinot Noir 2007 (California). Dry and rich with beautifully knit cherry and oak flavors; the delightful finish lasts for an incredibly long time ($34).

(93) Louis Martini Sonoma Valley Monte Rosso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (California). Historic vineyard; hand-picked from the best blocks within the Monte Rosso Vineyard; full-bodied showcasing dark berries, licorice, black currants, cherries and tobacco. ($50)

(92) Cameron Hughes Lot 159 Santa Barbara Chardonnay 2008 (California). Aromas of honey-covered peaches, green apple and buttered toast meld together with great balance; the bold Santa Barbara fruit shines through a refined, subtle French oak background; layers of complexity keep on coming, as a beautiful underlying acidity reminds you how well balanced this wine is. ($13)

(92) Pulenta Estate Malbec 2007 (Argentina). Smooth, rich, dry and complex; a semi-splurge for the holidays that is worth every penny; drinks beautifully now but also has the stuffing to age. ($25)

(92) Willamette Valley Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir 2008 (Oregon). In the nose, it is savory and spicy, yet in a light and delicate way; silky smooth and soft on the palate, with tasty and defined red cherry, ripe cranberry, blueberry, plum and mild earth undertones; it shows some richness in the aftertaste, but maintains outstanding balance and weight throughout. ($36)

(92) Mumm Napa Brut Rosé (California). More pink than salmon in the glass, the nose is dominated by fresh red berry fruit, with a hint of cherry; the acidity keeps the wine lively on the palate, and the finish is long and balanced; a great example of a rosé, the wine has plenty of weight to pair with a wide range of foods. ($24)

(92) Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, Brut, NV (France). As always, one the standard bearers of the NV category; with 20% white grapes, the color in the glass has great depth, with a fine gold tint, and elegant mousse; the nose is dominated by fresh tree fruit, with a hint of exotic spice; the palate reflects the nose with a lingering balanced finish. ($36)

(92) Etude Rosé 2009 (California). Great rosé of Pinot Noir; perfectly balanced for anything from turkey to ham to pork; refreshing, fresh, dry strawberry fruit; a clean finish. ($16)


(91) Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Chardonnay 2008 (California). Bursts with tropical flavors such as mango, papaya and pineapple with citrus notes that explode in your mouth; the flavors delicately intertwine with aromas of green apple and pear to create depth and balance throughout; a hint of toasted oak rounds out the long lingering finish. ($41)

(91) Antico Borgo di Sugame Chianti Classico 2007 (Italy). This is old-world Chianti at its finest; organically grown, featuring layers of complex earthiness, highlighted by notes of sour cherry and oak; the nose is filled with cherry and cedar, but what really stands out is the wine’€™s smooth mouthfeel; let this one breathe for an hour, and you’€™ll truly reap the rewards ($22)

(91) Uppercut Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). Dark purple; light earthy nose at first, followed by cocoa, cola nut and peppery spice notes that overlay rich black fruit aromas; medium bodied and very well balanced, it has a tasty mix of ripe black cherry, red cherry and plum, and the spice notes, though much more subtle, still maintain a presence; excellent. ($22)

(91) Napa Cellars Pinot Noir 2008 (California). Light spice notes introduce a complex bouquet of ripe red fruits, cola nut and cedar shavings; medium-full and deftly balanced, it possesses true pinot finesse across the palate, with intensity on the finish; the delicious flavor profile has a lot going on. ($18)

(91) Pierre Sparr Pinot Gris Mambourg Grand Cru 2002 (Alsace, France). Beautiful golden color with a nose of lemon infused honey, light orange marmalade and a subtle hint of saffron; a surprising dry, yet full bodied mouthfeel with bright acidity (especially for seven years old); smooth with plenty of citrus flavors backed by a touch of hazelnut on the finish. ($34.50)

(91) Lynmar Russian River Pinot Noir 2006 (California). Big, polished and ripe with flavors of cherry pie, wild berry, plum and spice; focused and concentrated, this lovely wine leaves an incredible long, lively finish that lingers for 20 seconds. ($35)

(91) St. Francis Wild Oak Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (California). Rich, bold, and intense; nice balance of the impressive dark cherry, berry, currant and plum flavors which intermix perfectly with the toasty vanilla and smooth tannins on a lengthy finish. ($33)

(91) Ferrari Brut, Trento DOC (Italy). Produced from 100% Chardonnay, the color is a bright, pale yellow, with a fine mousse; on the nose, the tree fruit dominates, with hints of the two years on the lees peaking through; the palate reflects the nose, with elegant apply fruit, and fine texture from the long aging; an elegant, lighter food wine, and a great value. ($25)

(91) La Marca, Prosecco, D.O.C. (Italy). Produced solely from Prosecco grapes, the wine is a bright pale yellow, with straw notes in the glass, with a tight bead; the nose and palate both enjoy a wide range of citrus and tree fruit, with a toasty undertone to complement the fruit; the acidity shows in the finish, along with good weight making this a food wine with great flexibility. ($17)

(91) Colome Torrontes 2009 (Argentina). The classic sweetness from the Torrontes fruit shows through; however a complex array of tropical fruit and citrus balance out the sweetness; a satisfying, tasty and refreshing white. ($14)

(91) Angeline Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District 2008 (California). Dry and full-bodied, it shows a classic Stags Leap elegance, with flavors of cassis, plum and cedar; layered with creamy vanilla oak that lingers on the finish; the tannins are softly ripe and firm at the same time. ($22)

(91) Macchia Mischievious Lodi Zinfandel 2009 (California). Rich, ripe flavors of berry- raspberries, blackberries, blueberries are complemented with the subtle hint of vanilla oak; a fruit-forward Lodi Zin with a slight touch of spice. ($20)

(90) Clean Slate Riesling 2009 (Germany). Balanced fruit and acidity; fresh ripe apple and pear; great with a variety of seafood and roast pork. ($9)

(90) Delea Fragolino Vivace Rosso (Switzerland). From Ticino, the Italian-speaking Swiss canton; made from hybrid grape, it has rich, ripe aromas and flavors of strawberry and raspberry; dazzlingly sweet and bubbly. ($18)

(90) Liberty School Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). This Cabernet is a consistent quality wine every vintage; aggressive yet controlled fruit offer a backbone of rich, deep berry and cassis with a notable balance of tannin and acidity; the price makes it affordable to entertain with quality and not break the bank. ($13)

(90) Trimbach Gewurtztraminer 2007 (Germany). Spicy, ripe pear makes this the perfect pairing for turkey and herb-mashed potatoes; smooth on the palate and long on the finish, this is truly a perfect wine for the holidays. ($18)

(90) Ferrari Carano Sonoma County Chardonnay 2008 (California). Tropical aroma; flavors of apple and pear; medium to long finish. ($19)

(90) Newton Chardonnay Sonoma 65%, Napa 35% 2008 (California). Apple aroma; apple-pear flavor; medium finish. ($20)

(90) River Road Chardonnay Sonoma County 2009 (California). Tasty layers of citrus, pear and apple notes are bright in the mouth thanks to the stainless steel fermentation; light vanilla and butter kiss from minimal oak contact makes this an interesting, balanced Chardonnay. ($11)

(90) Corvallis Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2008 (Oregon). Fragrant, plush and concentrated with focused layers of wild berry, raspberry and cherry that carry on to the palate; fruit forward with silky, juicy texture and balanced acidity. ($17)

(90) Folie à Deux Ménage à Trois White 2009 (California). Blend of Chardonnay, Moscato and Chenin Blanc offering aromas of grapefruit, pear and honeydew melon; full chalky mouthfeel exposing soft, off dry grapefruit flavors and memories of the apples from a pick-your-own farm; perfect for the holiday season. ($10)

(90) Valley of the Moon Zinfandel 2007 (California). Rich, bursting with cinnamon and blueberry, this wine over-delivers for the cost; there is a cedar backbone that just begs you to take another sip; the perfect accompaniment to a crowded Thanksgiving Dinner table. ($13)

(89) Lucien Albrecht Brut Blanc de Blanc Cremant NV (Alsace, France). Approachable, fruity, with a new spin on sparkling wine with bright flavors of apple cider, apple turnover cake and fresh bread crumbs; beautiful acidity on this wine that brings out the freshness; tiny bubble beads add to the overall appeal of this wine that will pair perfect with cheese and other light dishes. ($21)

(89) ChocoVine Raspberry (Holland). Fun, new dessert wine; red wine base with cream, chocolate and raspberry; tastes like an expensive Irish Cream with an added twist. ($9)

(89) Chateau d’€™Esclans Rose Cotes de Provence ‘€œWhispering Angel’€ 2009 (France). A pretty pale salmon color and a bouquet that is a bit subdued, but there are some Bing cherry and dried fruit aromas in the background; medium bodied, mild and very smooth on the entry, the ripe fruit flavors are supple and round; excellent balance and length, and displays quite a bit of finesse; a versatile food partner. ($20)

(89) Perrin Cotes du Rhone ‘€œNature’€ 2007 (France). The bouquet is ripe but not overwrought as rich dark fruit aromas mingle with a touch of earth and graphite; full-bodied, tart and dry, it has a big entry, with a sharp bolt of acidity that slowly fades to reveal tasty and savory notes of cocoa, coffee, caramel and earth; these flavors then fade into ripe black cherry. ($13)

(88) 14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend 2008 (California). Generous aromas of ripe berries and dark stone fruits open this ruby-hued wine; fleshy flavors of cherries and plum are met with soft and velvety tannins, finishing with a hint of mocha. ($10)

(88) Dam Red NV (California). Prepare to be delighted and amazed; a combination of zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon and merlot come together for a Dam good red; very fruit forward and balanced. ($10)


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