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. 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


(96) Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte 1999 Palmes d’€™Or Champagne (France). With a beautiful nose of flowers, fruit blossoms, and honey this blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir illustrates its pedigree; the bubbles are tiny, and flow up the glass for quite some time; on the palate, this lovely wine shows a wonderful balance of fruit and acid, with a touch of the classic yeasty character. ($150)

(96) Sette Ponti Oreno 2008 (Italy). Another masterpiece from Winemaker Carlo Ferrini in Tuscany; rich and juicy yet elegant; this blend has impressive layers of fruit giving way to a touch of spice and a hint of mint; perfectly balanced with a long, lingering finish. ($70)

(96) Champagne Henriot 1998 La Cuvée Des Enchanteleurs Champagne (France). After sitting on the lees for an amazing 12 years, you can immediately note the sheer style and elegance of this world-class wine; the complex nose of fresh citrus, combined with tree and dried fruits is echoed on the palate; the wine is both easy to drink, because it’€™s so delicious, as well as having so much going on in the glass, you just don’€™t want to rush through it; a rare and magnificent bottle. ($209)


(95) Raymond Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). This Cabernet has amazing concentration of dark fruit; blackberry, black cherry, plum and black licorice flavors immediately fill the palate on the first sip; the mid-palate is dense and full-bodied with great depth; the finish lasts 30 seconds and offers a nice hint of spice on a solid backbone of tannins; ready to drink today, but will age for another 10 years. ($42)

(95) Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Chile). Very well-structured wine; full bodied, mellow tannins with hints of blackberry and raspberry; nice long finish. ($24)

(95) Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Rouge 2009 (France). This is a wonderful example of Pinot Noir produced in Sancerre, which tends to be elegant, soft, and velvety; aromas and flavors of currant and cherry meld with a hint of ‘€œterroir’€; the wine will complement most any holiday meal, particularly lightly smoked salmon. ($35)

(95) Domaine Huet Clos Du Bourg Vouvray Sec 2009 (Fance). Chenin Blanc at its finest; tantalizing floral scents lead to rich flavors of not-quite-ripe apple, pear and peach with just a hint of minerality; lovely citrus notes linger on the lengthy, dry finish; Pair with fish, fowl, pork, veal, and especially roast pheasant. ($35)

(94) Domaine de Noire Soif de Tendresse Chinon 2010 (France). A beautiful expression of Cabernet Franc; aromas of wildflower, blackberry, and ‘€œLa Garrigue’€ lead to flavors of currant and blueberry with a hint of coffee; supple tannins on the end make this an ideal match for lamb, beef and game. ($20)

(94) Pannonhalmi Apatsagi Pinceszet Rajnai Rizling 2008 (Hungary). From vineyards planted by Benedictine Monks in Hungary in 996 A.D., this is a fragrant, mouthfilling, totally dry Riesling with a hint of minerality on the long finish; it complements many cuisines served during the holidays. ($20)

(93) Etude Rose 2010 (California). Perfect pairing for holiday turkey, ham and shrimp; this rose of pinot noir explodes with elegant, inviting aromas of wild strawberries; a delight. ($17)

(93) Hilary Goldschmidt Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). An absolutely stunning Cabernet; big bold, concentrated flavors of berry and cassis open up to perfectly balanced acidity and tannin; open for at least two hours and let all the flavors marry together. ($27)

(93) Borsao Rose 2010 (Spain). Made from 100% Garnacha; bright orange color with full flavors of blood orange on the nose and palate; nicely balanced with a long finish; great value. ($7)

(92) Terrazas de los Andes Mendoza Las Compuertas Afincado Malbec 2007 (Argentina). A tremendous bouquet; ripe and juicy, but refined and structured, with amazing spice content that is layered and complex; tannic and dry on the entry, but then it slowly opens up and expands, gaining depth and richness, with camphor, smoked meat and ripe black fruit flavors. ($48)

(92) Short Ends Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (California). Cassis nose; cassis, plum and cherry flavors; big tannins and a long finish. ($43)

(92) Orin Swift Napa Valley Papillion Red Wine 2008 (California). A six grape blend with zinfandel being the primary grape; a complex nose, with plum, blackberry, maybe a little smoke; plum, blackberry and cherry flavors; substantial tannins and a long finish. ($59)

(92) Domaine Galevan Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2006 (France). Classic southern Rhone, this shows off lovely terroir and spice notes mingling in the bouquet; similar on the palate, though additions of cocoa, cassis liqueur and Asian plum offer delicious nuance; ample tannin, but it is well-integrated, making for a wine with firm grip and length. ($50)

(92) Socolo by Sebastiani 2006 (California). This red blend is a monster; the tannins mellow beautifully to allow the fruit to come through for a very elegant finish. ($36)

(92) Domaine Eternel Elsa Cotes du Roussillon Villages 2007 (France). The lovely bouquet displays a nice mix of savory spice aromas tinting ripe red currant and lingonberry compote aromas, and everything is even-keeled and nicely proportioned: soft and nearly lush on the palate, but has plenty of acidity keeping it firmly structured; a complex and very interesting wine that unfolds slowly; long finish. ($22)

(92) Thorne-Clarke Terra Barossa Shiraz 2009 (Australia). A glass-coating opaque purple color, it is ripe, rich, yet light on its feet; flavorful, layered, and well-balanced; a real bargain. ($16, 1 liter)


(91) Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 2009 (California). Red berry aroma; strawberry and raspberry flavors with hints of spice; moderate tannins and a moderately long, pleasant finish. ($36)

(91) Charles Thomas Cotes du Rhone 2009 (France). The bouquet is a ripe and fresh fruit basket, showing lots of complexity and a light herbal note adding interest; medium-full, round and plush, this has a softness and weight that seems more like Chateauneuf-du-Pape than Cotes du Rhone, and a level of fruit extract and richness that is impressive; it approaches ‘€œfruit bomb’€ intensity, but displays enough tannin and restraint to keep it nicely in check; a great value. ($12)

(91) Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling 2010 (Washington State). The Eroica project, pairing one of the country’€™s top Riesling producing regions, and one of the world’€™s top Riesling producers, has been a consistent high-quality wine for the past decade, including this 2010 vintage; complex citrus notes dominate the nose, and the bright balanced fruit reveals complex layers of fruit and minerality; works as an aperitif, or with any number of seafood and chicken dishes. ($20)

(91) Katnook Estate Coonawarra, Founder’€™s Estate Riesling 2009 (Australia). The bouquet is lovely, very German in style, with nut oil and slight mineral notes leading off, followed by mild aromas of exotic fruits; smooth and round, complex and balanced, and it has a middle-weight finish. ($18)

(91) Koehler Santa Ynez Chardonnay 2009 (California). Rich in citrus and tropical aromas with a dry and crisp finish; very Chablis in style; great with shellfish and vegetarian casseroles. ($17)

(91) Sterling Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (California). A generous blend of wild berry, currant, black cherry and mocha flavors, which are followed by a full-bodied middle and a hint of anise and spice on a long balanced finish; wonderful value. ($27)

(91) Vigne Regali Rosa Regale Brachetto d’€™Acqui Piedmont D.O.C.G 2010 (Italy). If you plan on having chocolate to finish a holiday meal, there are few better choices to pair it with than this lower (7%) alcohol, fruit-driven sparkler; fermenting and aging in steel preserve the lovely fruit, and the bubbles add to the lively bright fruit and spice mix. ($20)

(91) The Pinot Project 2009 (California). Smooth and inviting blend of Pinot Noir sourced from Sonoma, Carneros and Russian River; inviting, smooth and easy ripe red raspberry and cherry with just the right touch of spice on the finish; great with a good roast chicken. ($13)

(91) Fidelity Alexander Valley Red 2009 (California). An amazing blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley; drinks bigger than wines twice its price; rich and inky with a strong backbone of tannin. ($13)

(91) Chateau Chevalier Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (California). Nice notes of blueberry, cassis, coffee and spice flavors; supple texture and mineral tones fold into the well-structured tannins. ($25)

(91) Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, D.O.C.G 2007 (Italy). From a great Tuscan vintage, and an outstanding producer, this delicious example of Sangiovese at its best exhibits very dark ruby to the eye, ripe black fruits notes on the nose, echoed on the rich, full bodied palate; perfect match for your holiday beef or lamb, it will shine its brightest after an hour or so after being decanted. ($30)

(90) Charles de Frere Reserve Blanc de Blancs Brut (France). Excellent affordable French sparkler for any occasion ‘€“ smooth and subtle with a long apple-like finish. ($11)

(90) Vina Zaco Tempranillo 2007 (Spain). Very nice flavors of black cherry, cocoa, and spice merry together to form a medium body, full intensity wine; excellent finish, this wine will go with an assortment of meat dishes. ($13)

(90) Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noir NV (California). Made from 100% Pinot Noir; cherry fruit, citrus, and a toasty component give this wine complexity; easy to drink with beautiful acidity and fruit flavor mix. ($16)

(90) Courtney Benham Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (California). Dark ruby, almost purple color reveals characteristics of blackberry and currant and touches of mineral and vanillin; rich and chewy tannins; medium to full body. ($20)

(90) Bagrationi 1882 Brut Reserve 2007 (Georgia). Not the Georgia of CNN and peaches; this wine is a blend of the Chinebuli, Mtsvane, and Tsitska grape varieties; produced in the traditional method, just as are other high-end sparkling wines, the nose of tree fruits is accented by a toasty note; dry enough to demonstrate elegance, but with enough fruit to make it a very pleasurable glass of bubbly. ($26)

(90) Don Miguel Gascón Mendoza Malbec 2010 (Argentina). This Malbec demonstrates that a great wine can also be a great value; the dark berry fruits on the nose have a hint of spice contributed by the oak, with a rich echo on the palate; plenty of fruit; not high in alcohol, and dry enough to match the meats and cheeses you lay out to entertain your guests; great match for holiday beef. ($15)

(90) Kellerei-Cantina Andrian Alto Adige Lagrein 2007 (Italy). From the extreme north of Italy, and from vineyards more than 800 feet in altitude, the Lagrein grape variety is elegant and with a subtle power; medium ruby/garnet color in the glass camouflages the intensity on the palate; the nose is dominated by red fruit aromas, with a subtle floral aspect; quite rich and full bodied, with an edge of acidity that would pair it nicely with meats and dried cheeses. ($20)

(90) Mer Soleil Santa Lucia Highlands Barrel Fermented Chandonnay 2008 (California). Citrus aroma; tropical flavors of lemon and pineapple; moderate finish. ($30)

(90) Tyrrell’€™s Old Winery Shiraz 2009 (Australia). Rich blackberry and dark cherry fruit on the nose with just a hint of star anise makes this an approachable red; the tannins are not overpowering and there is good balanced acidity; good value. ($12)

(90) Boom Boom Syrah 2007 (Washington). Full of ripe blackberry pie filling aromas and flavors on the palate followed by vanilla, cinnamon, and chocolate; expressive and a wonderful value. ($15.50)

(90) Apex Ascent Merlot 2008 (California). Bright raspberry, currant and plum with herb tinges; ifrm texture and slightly chewy tannins on this medium-bodied Merlot; good complexity for the price. ($18)

(90) Muirwood Vacquero Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2009 (California). Supple and lush on the palate with soft tannins from barrel aging; abundant in flavors of black currant, plum and blueberry with notes of vanilla. ($20)

(90) Truett Hurst Dry Creek Three Vineyards Zinfandel 2010 (California). Spice and pepper layered over soft red fruit of ripe raspberries, strawberries and currants; medium bodied on the palate’€™ lots of flavors and complexities for the price; young and should evolve more over time. ($20)

(90) Vecordia Ribera del Duero Roble 2009 (Portugal). Spicy with supple and soft tannins; interesting flavors of perceptively sweet red fruit; just enough peppery zeal to layer in more complexity. ($13)

(90) Chelsea Goldschmidt Alexander Valley Merlot 2009 (California). A deliciously concentrated Merlot with big, berry flavors and hints of cherry and plum; give it a half hour to open up and enjoy all the velvety goodness. ($15)

(89) Gibe Sparkling Lambrusco Emilia Romagna NV (Italy). A fresh bouquet, with floral and bright fruit aromas along with a candied cherry note that might put you in mind of a Hall’€™s cough drop; the palate is bone dry but filled with sweet fruit flavors that make for quite an interesting dance; a natural partner for charcuterie. ($17)

(89) Colosi Nero d’€™Avola Sicilia 2009 (Italy). Wild bush berry aromas accent the bouquet along with light notes of cedar and camphor; initially tannic on the entry, but quickly turns juicy and ripe, almost lush, yet the acidity keeps everything nicely in check; long on the finish; this seems likely to get even better. ($15)

(89) Riondo Prosecco Punto Rosso Brut 2010 (Italy). The ‘€œred label’€ Brut has a soft bouquet that displays a note of honey along with light melon and a whiff of biscuit; medium bodied, it is a little soft on the entry, but it crisps up nicely, with light melon flavors dominating the palate and a squeeze of lemon on the finish. ($15)

(89) Ca’€™Momi Napa Valley Merlot 2009 (California). Full of dark blueberry and chocolate notes; balanced flavors of fruit, acidity, and tannins in the mouth lead to a very nice finish. ($19)

(89) Sexy Wine Bomb Red 2008 (California). Bright, ripe red fruits of raspberry, strawberry, cherry and even a bit of cherry cola; layers of vanilla and a slight freshly toasted marshmallow character; a crowd-pleaser. ($10)

(89) Abbeyville Napa Valley Chardonnay 2010 (California). Good Napa value wine; balanced and flavorful; nice tropical characteristics of pineapple with light hints of citrus fruit; layered with a slight buttery richness to it. ($10)

(89) Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2011 (France). Harvest reports call for the 2011 to have a ‘€œstrong personality’€ based on the small dark concentrated grapes; first tastings say the wine will be full bodied and exquisitely soft; always a very festive wine. ($11)

(89) Kitchen Sink California White Table Wine NV (California). Possesses a really nice bouquet of fresh-peeled apple skin, peach pit and guava; tart acidity leading off, making it dry before the slightly sweet fruit flavors of ripe melon and peach nectar appear; some zing in the finish, making for a lively and tasty wine at a great price. ($10)

(88) Gersatacker Nurnberger Christkindl’€™s Gluhwein (Germany). A delicious combination of red wine, sugar and selected spices, this is ready to drink; simply heat (do not boil) to enjoy a special treat on a cold day and also excellent when served over ice. ($10)

(88) Va Va Voom California Riesling 2009 (California). Fresh and fruity, this has a lovely balance between forward sweetness and gripping acidity that makes for a lively palate; ripe tropical and citrus fruit flavors rule, but never get cloying or sugary. ($10)

(87) Fair Trade Wine Company Robertson Chenin Blanc 2011 (South Africa). The mild bouquet exhibits moderate sweetness and light aromas of quince and guava nectar; tropical fruit notes linger on the palate and the acidity kicks in just before the finish to offer some sharpness, but it stays pretty soft overall, and nicely so. ($12)


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