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


(95) Laurent Barth Gewurztraminer Vieilles Vignes 2010 (Alsace). An elegant dry style with fragrances and flavors of apricot, coriander, and clove; served lightly chilled, it will complement the cornucopia of culinary delights on your Thanksgiving or Christmas table. ($29)

(95) The Calling Rio Lago Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). A delicious, well-crafted cabernet; full bodied, with a deep burgundy color; soft tannins and a velvety texture; ripe raspberry and cherry on the palate with a long finish. ($39)

(94) Martinelli Bondi Home Ranch Sonoma County Greene Valley Pinot Noir 2011 (California). Cherry aroma; cherry and plum flavors; nice silky tannins; long finish. ($60)

(94) Arger-Martucci The Odyssey Red Blend 2007 (California). This small Napa winery produces nothing but great wines and the Odyssey is no exception; this is a cabernet franc-based blend, so expect wonderful aromas with blackberry, cherry and currant fruits; an easy wine to drink. ($48)


(94) Domaine Cazes Le Canon Du Marechal Blanc Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes 2011 (France). An intriguing blend of 80% muscat and 20% viognier from biodynamic vineyards; the Mandarin character of the muscat is evident in the bouquet and on the palate; the viognier adds a creamy mouthfeel; lovely flavors of melon, fig and orange, yet the wine is dry; complements fowl and mild seafood. ($16)

(94) Catena Lunlunta Vineyard Malbec 2011 (Argentina). This single vineyard malbec from Catena is simply stunning; gorgeous floral bouquet with ripe pomegranate and wild strawberry is complemented by earthy red fruit and spice notes on the palate; great structure and texture, complete with a long finish. ($25)

(94) Weingut Setzer Gruner Veltliner Hohenwarth, Weinviertel 2012 (Austria). Crisp, refreshing, and not-quite-dry with zesty acidity in the finish; pairs beautifully with a wide array of cuisine and perfect ‘€œparty wine;’€ from a family winery founded in 1705. ($18)

(94) Weingut Ecker Zweigelt Trocken Weinland 2011 (Austria). A yummy, eminently quaffable Rotwein from Austria’€™s premier red grape; hints of cherry, tobacco, beets and spice abound; soft tannins round out this lovely wine; serve slightly chilled with your Holiday meals. ($16)

(94) Dr. Hermann ‘€œH’€ Riesling 2011 (Germany). Lush, sweet fruit aromas and flavors lead to a crisp, racy finish; the sweetness, balanced by the acidity, is simply delectable; with a hint of the Mosel’€™s slate, it’€™s a classic style that’€™s perfect for holiday festivities. ($17)

(93) Daou Chardonnay 2010 (California). If you insist on chardonnay with your Turkey dinner, here it is; no noticeable oak or malalactic; instead, you will find apples and a hint of pineapple sprinkled with a dash of nutmeg. ($40)

(93) Chateau Ste Michelle Cold Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Washington State). A stunning cabernet offering deep and rich fruit and amazing balance; many intricate layers of berry fruit and cassis with a touch of cocoa. ($28)

(93) Perseverance Sonoma County Monte Rosso Vineyard Zinfandel 2008 (California). If you wonder why some plots of land are so famous, try this wine and wonder no more; incredibly complex in the bouquet and on the palate, with black pepper notes tinting blackberry compote, spicy briar notes and earthy undertones; bold and intense, yet beautifully balanced, and the finish displays vanilla and caramel. ($25)

(93) McPherson Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Texas). ‘€œDoc’€ McPherson grows these grapes on his Sagmor Vineyard, while his son Kim makes the wine; aged 18 months in French oak, it is fruit-forward in style with subtle touches of cassis and black fruit. ($30)

(92) D’€™Armanville Brut Champagne NV (France). The bouquet is gorgeous, with both an earthy and savory bent, yet exhibiting plenty of ripe black fruit aromas; full bodied and luscious, but with a backbone of tannins that, though firm, remain quite smooth; light tints of cocoa and earth linger on the edges while ripe and juicy black cherry, currant, cassis and blueberry roll across the palate; lots of finesse. ($40)

(92) Cedar Knoll Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (California). Rich, red fruit nose; flavors of cassis, blackberry, and some chocolate; substantial tannins; a long finish. ($45)

(92) Truchard Napa Merlot 2009 (California). Deep purple color with ripe scents of blueberry and cassis; layered and dense, with appealing notes of currant, blueberry, mineral and a touch of herbs on the luscious finish; a match for pastas with red sauce, braised short ribs or even a succulent rabbit stew. ($30)

(92) Bending Branch Winery Tempranillo 2010 (Texas). From the famed Newsom Vineyards in the Texas High Plains AVA; 24 months in oak, this has beautifully vibrant fruit, with notes of coffee, green herbs, cranberries and spice; smoky, rich and robust. ($30)

(92) Catalpa Pinot Noir 2011 (Argentina). Aromas of blueberry with hints of chocolate; soft, flavorful and balanced with light tannins; an elegant lingering finish. ($19)


(91) Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2010 (Italy). Silky with bright black fruit flavors and aromas; soft, well-integrated tannins and a long finish; should age nicely over the next 5 to 7 years. ($30)

(91) Mobius Sonoma Russian River Pinot Noir 2009 (California). Russian River produces very fruit forward wines, and this wine over-delivers; rich strawberry and raspberry fruit married with gentle tannins; deep garnet color, unfined, with touches of minerality. ($30)

(91) Sparrow Hawk Russian River Reserve Chardonnay 2011 (California). From the Parsley family who produces the Silver Stag wines, comes their Sonoma sourced series of wine; the famed Dutton Ranch fruit adds beautiful touches of citrus, green apple and pear; the rich buttery finish really rounds out this wine, with subtle touches of vanilla and pineapple. ($40)

(91) Fatttoria del Cerro Rosso di Montepulciano 2011 (Italy). Lighter in body than some Montepulcianos, but loaded with hefty blackberry fruit and mild tannins that will carry off lasagna, stuffed veal or grilled eggplant dishes. ($13)

(91) Kenneth Volk Cabernet Pfeffer 2008 (California). Cabernet Pfeffer was a nearly extinct grape brought to life by Kenneth Volk in San Benito; pfeffer is pepper in German and this wine has plenty of it. ($24)

(91) Cantina del Taburno Falanghina 2012 (Italy). Great food wine, especially with shrimp, crab and chicken; aromatic with hints of ripe pear and apple. ($16)

(91) Sental Cellars Dry Creek Zinfandel 2011 (California). This is the second label for Terroir Napa Valley wines; a clasaic Dry Creek zin, with great balance between oak aging fresh fruit; nose delivers anise, tar, spice, cedar and brambly fruit; small production lots make this one to look for; over-delivers for the money. ($37)

(91) Ca’€™ed Bolos Moscato d’€™Asti DOCG 2011 (Italy). From the original appellation for moscato, this is the best of old world mixed with modern winemaking; frizzante in style, it has soft notes of orange blossoms, peach, almond and honey in a lighter style; dessert in a glass. ($24)

(91) 90+ Cellars Lot 28 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011 (Washington State). The best of both worlds with American-style ripe fruit and the finesse of a good French Burgundy; perfect with roast chicken. ($18)

(91) Christoffel Riesling Qba 2012 (Germany). Balanced fruit and acidity with a subtle hint of honeyed sweetness; pair with mild cheeses and fruit or a pork roast with apples. ($19)

(91) Fat Barrel Cabernet/Shiraz 2012 (South Africa). A deep garnet color; pronounced blackberry and currant notes; underlying hints of earth, chocolate and blueberry add to the complex flavor profile; the full-bodied palate has a good deal of acidity and balance with a long fruity finish. ($16)

(91) Masi Tupungato Passo Doble Rosso 2010 (Argentina). This unique blend of Malbec and Corvina offers licorice and raspberry aromas with cherry, plum and spice on the palate followed with soft tannins and a lasting finish; pleasantly refreshing. ($19)

(91) Alto Sur Mendoza Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Argentina). Second label for the legendary Sophenia brand from Argentina, this mountain fruit cab proves that Mendoza can also produce wonderful cabs; estate grown at 4,000-ft. altitude, it offers rich dark color and beautiful aromatics; hints of black currants, raspberries and a kiss of mint; very balanced wine. ($20)

(91) Rive Droite Rive Gauche Cotes du Rhone 2012. (France). Classic dark fruit and pepper spice on the nose. Delivers boat loads of juicy fruit across the palate with superb balance and silky structure. Pure velvet tannins are soft, but definitely there to carry this best buy through to the finish line. ($12)

(91) The Cottage Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (New Zealand). This New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc offers a robust nose of grapefruit and nectarine; bright, fresh, balanced and good acidity; nice lingering finish with a little bit of spiciness; very refreshing and great as a holiday value. ($14)

(91) Gaudrelle Cremant de Loire Brut NV (France). The bouquet is initially very light, with a flour-like note drifting about and then a mix of subtle tropical fruit notes; a firm grip on the entry and zippy acidity, but maintains beautiful balance; it softens slowly across the palate, gaining depth and revealing slightly sweet melon flavors along with some pineapple, persimmon, apricot and apple notes. ($20)

(91) California Square Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2012 (Californa). Delivers fragrant aromas of butter, pear, and tropical fruit; this full-bodied wine has superb richness on the palate yet it never seems heavy or cumbersome; the finish simply bursts with tropical fruit, butterscotch, and crème brulee that combine to give this wine fabulous depth. ($20)

(90) Muirwood Arroyo Seco Chardonnay 2012 (California). Pleasant notes of toast, butter, and citrus; smooth and creamy with no hard edges to the flavors of butter, pear, and tropical fruits; this chardonnay delivers a lot of value. ($15)

(90) River Road Sonoma Chardonnay 2012 (California). A very pleasant chardonnay from the Russian River Valley; the wine’€™s creamy texture provides an excellent backdrop for the flavors of pear, citrus fruit and butter; the crisp finish would make this an excellent food pairing wine. ($14)

(90) Courtney Benham Santa Barbara Chardonnay 2012 (California). Full-bodied and creamy with well-integrated oak; this Chardonnay really stands out for its interesting flavors of guava, fig, melon, and brioche; a rich finish makes this wine even more exciting. ($15)

(90) The Federalist Dueling Pistols 2009 (California). A beautiful blend of zinfandel and syrah; bright cherry aromas with fruit flavors; full bodied and very drinkable. ($45)

(90) Franciscan Magnificat 2010 (California). This Meritage is elegant and well structured, featuring cherry notes, soft tannins and a long, beautiful finish. ($50)

(90) Anne Aimee Cuvee A White 2012 (Oregon). Anne Amie throws pretty much every white varietal into this wine and it is pretty much irresistible; very fruit forward with a touch of sweetness. ($15)

(90) Grand Chatelain Reserve Malbec Cahors N.V. (France). Made from 100% Malbec, but referred to as Cot in this appellation; multi-vineyard site selection, combined with blending from select vintages; mature vines give it deep ruby color; restrained black fruit and a toasty finish; great harmony between fruit and barrel; this is the darker, earthier side of malbec, from its original source in France. ($20)

(90) Bayonette Cotes du Roussillon-Villages 2011 (France). Composed of 60% grenache, 30% carignan, 10% syrah; definitely approaching fruit-bomb status in the nose, this wine’€™s bouquet is effusive and bright with ripe berry aromas, a lovely menthol/mint nuance and a touch of oak; muscular on the palate, intense and still pretty tannic, but with opulent fruit structure; rich, but not overblown, and will only get better. ($15)

(90) Fisticuffs Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (California). Earthy and spicy in the nose, it shows off a lovely oak frame to ripe currant aromas tinted with herbs; medium-full, round and well balanced; the slightly lower acid makes it easy to drink on its own. ($30)

(90) Butternut Chardonnay 2011 (California). A wonderfully rich Chardonnay with flavors of butter, caramel and vibrant pops of granny smith apple and tropical fruit; match with a savory turkey dinner. ($18)

(90) Mazzocco Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). Surprisingly powerful; loaded with flavor and a fine value from Sonoma’€™s Dry Creek Valley. ($23)

(90) Cristalino Cava Brut Rose (Spain). Bright and refreshing; clean and crisp with hints of wild strawberry; affordable, perfect party popper. ($8)

(90) Girasole Vineyards Pinot Noir 2011 (California). This organic Pinot Noir has aromas of ripe cherries and strawberries; flavors of cherry and great balance leads to a great finish. ($16)

(89) Ferrari Carano Sonoma County Chardonnay 2011 (California). Apple aroma; apple, pear and citrus flavors; medium to long finish. ($19)

(89) Conundrum Red 2011 (California). An expressive red blend with tons of fruit and bright acidity; the rich velvety mouth feel is complemented by pops of sweetness on top of a foundation big fruit; great holiday cocktail wine. ($20)

(89) Grady Family Pinot Noir 2011 (California). Dr. Grady has created a light, but very tasty pinot noir in Lodi from clones from the hottest area of Burgundy; flavors of strawberries, raspberries and a light vanilla finish. ($19)

(89) Cloud Break Arroyo Seco Reserve Chardonnay 2012 (California). Round and supple with a palate-saturating richness that delivers plenty of melon, pineapple, coconut, and cream; there is a wonderful intensity in the finish that really over-delivers. ($15)

(89) Maggio Old Vine Zinfandel 2011 (California). This Lodi zinfandel has notes of chocolate and raspberry jam; soft and balanced leading to a spicy lingering finish. ($11)

(88) Hanna Russian River Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (California). Grassy, citrus aroma; citrus and green apple flavors; nice, medium-length finish. ($18)

(88) La Pistola Red N.V. (Washington State). Washington’€™s wine answer to garage-style blends; Intriguing blend of merlot, cabernet and cab franc; organic grapes, sustainably grown. ($18)

(88) Valdo Prosecco (Italy). The perfect sparkler for toasting, Mimosas and Bellinis; a DOC designation; tasty and quite a bargain. ($11)

(88) Finca del Castillo Tempranillo 2011 La Mancha (Spain). The bouquet is medium-full and earthy but also shows off some tea leaf, cedar and pepper notes before ripe black fruit aromas emerge; dry and a bit tart on the entry, it has firm acidity up front that soon fades, letting rich black cherry and black raspberry flavors pull forward; still plenty of tannin, but nothing overdone, and if anything marks this it is likely to get even better; great value. ($8)

(88) Domaine Grand Veneur Cotes du Rhone Rose 2012 (France). Opens with a juicy bouquet of freshly picked strawberries and cherries with a lilt of vanillin in the background; medium bodied, crisp and a touch tart up front, but it softens nicely and gains depth across the palate; Bing cherry dominates while cranberry and raspberry flavors add nuance and a light earth note arrives in the aftertaste; roof that rose is more than a spring and summer wine, and will make a delicious addition to the holiday table. ($15)


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