From Semillon to Sparkling, our local South Bay and Peninsula wineries have the goods to make your days merry AND bright
Well, it’s almost Christmas, which means we’ve all earned a drink (or two) by now. And while our drinking tastes here at the 650 are as eclectic as they are expansive (such as this…and this…oh, and this too), there is something about wine that just seems so perfectly suited to the Christmas holiday season. And lucky for us, our local wineries have been known to produce a wide range of epic elixirs.
In an effort to assist you in finding the perfect pairing for your holiday festivities (and perhaps more importantly — to help you cope with your in-laws) we’ve listed our favorite wines from around the region. They’re all great for giving, but even better for imbibing. So unplug from Amazon and shop local this season with one of these seven wines.
Winemaker Jeff Struthers and co-hort Dan Peterson, both of Old County Cellars in San Carlos, enjoy experimenting with different vineyards and varieties. Dan explains that the genesis of this viscous, soft wine was born from a change of plans: “We were initially going to make a Bordeaux-style white with a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. We decided that we liked them so much individually that we would bottle them separately.”
This 2016 Semillon comes from mountain-grown grapes in the Chiles Valley, which sits about 1,000 feet above the Napa Valley floor on the east side. The cooler mountain climate allows for slower ripening and exceptional flavor development. Fermentation in 100%-new French oak and sur-lie aging accentuate the creamy texture. A great wine to kick off your holiday festivities early in the night (and then revisit later, too).
Purchase online or at the Old County Cellars tasting room on Old County Road in San Carlos every weekend.
We couldn’t quite decide which of our favorite Waxwing wines to feature, so we just included both of them.
Waxwing Winemaker Scott Sisemore constantly scouts for the best coastal vineyard sources, recently discovering the Deerheart Vineyard, on La Honda Road, in a beautiful valley between the town of La Honda and San Gregorio Beach.
Based on an approach involving a variety of clones, cool climate root stocks and low trellis-ing, the resulting Pinot Noir from Deerheart is a stunningly good rich wine from an unlikely location. Sisemore describes it as deep, dark, intense and delicious. This is a top-notch Christmas gift for lovers of Pinot and a sublime wine to serve at your holiday dinner.
On the other end of the spectrum, we had to also make mention of Waxwing’s vibrant and versatile 2015 Riesling. Its bright acid and impeccable combination of fruit and texture would be a great addition to any holiday spread.
Purchase these and other Waxwing wines from the website or the winery, which is open on Friday evenings.
Winemaker Dominick Chirichillo sources this Montepulciano from the Tracy Hills AVA (American Viticultural Area) in California. In honor of his Italian heritage, he specializes in Cal-Italia varietals.
This Montepulciano beckons with scents of violets, French lavender, red pie cherries and Damson plums. Distinctively crisp acidity and medium tannins make up the backbone of this wine with flavors that echo the aromas, adding nutmeg, allspice and tobacco.
Dominick suggests pairing it with something meaty (salumi or grilled lamb), although it would also work well alongside cheesy baked penne or wild mushrooms over polenta.
A sparkling wine done in the hand-crafted tradition, this blanc de blanc is a labor of extreme love and extensive patience. Aged over 13 years en tirage (a method of secondary fermentation), Kathryn Kennedy Winery’s Cuvee Twenty-Seven is a very French-like classic that has accrued a great deal of interest.
In the nose, it reveals caramel and crème brulee, but the palate serves up lovely orchard fruit, bolstered by assertive acidity and remarkable freshness, so characteristic of Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay.
Winegrower Marty Mathis says this is the last vintage of sparkling he made. “I’m really proud of it, and I feel like I’m really finishing strong. I think it’s reminiscent of an old Krug.”
Make this the wine with which you toast the accomplishments and milestones of the waning year, as you look forward to a new one.
Visit Whole Foods Market locations in the Bay Area and Santa Cruz to purchase. You’ll also find it at Rootstock in Los Gatos and Cupertino, and by the glass at The Plumed Horse in Saratoga.
Neely Wine makes estate-grown, -produced, and -bottled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from vineyards on the eastern slope of Spring Hill in Portola Valley. The vineyard is divided into distinctive blocks, which are produced and bottled separately.
Holly’s Cuvee is a blend of all three blocks of Chardonnay. The Amphitheatre Block, a bowl-shaped section that faces south, possesses intense minerality and a vivid citrus core, while the Bee block hums with orchard fruit, zapped by a squeeze of Meyer lemon. The Home Block Chardonnay possesses a deft lushness, with ripe orchard and tangerine.
“Bee, Home, and Amphitheater Blocks are completely terroir-driven wines, reflecting their micro-sites,” says Lucy Neely, (Holly’s daughter). “In making a blend of the three there is a greater exploration of stylistic expression and choice, as well as a joyful and pleasing synthesis of these three unique Blocks.”
When you combine them all, you get a wine that exhibits aromas of fresh-baked cream biscuits, honeysuckle and citrus, with flavors of key lime pie with toasted graham cracker crust.
Purchase wine from their website. Neely Wine is donating 10% of all holiday sales to California wildfire relief efforts.
More like real French Bordeaux than most California Cabernet blends, the 2005 Kings Mountain Meritage exudes those earthy, deeply-rooted-to the-planet aromas that take you instantly to a just-rained-upon hillock surrounded by a pine and redwood forest, perhaps somewhere in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Or, maybe in Pauillac. In this case, it’s from a small vineyard on a private estate just outside the village of Woodside. (Yes, it’s on Kings Mountain Road, which leads to Huddart Park.)
This wine is 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Cabernet Franc, 14% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec. The predominance of Cabernet Franc, which tends towards balsam and potpourri, is immediately evident. Aromatically addictive, this well-textured and elegant blend gives forth aromas of red raspberry, balsam, cedar and cinnamon stick: perfect for the holidays. Pair with prime rib or even bison, and bring on the horseradish: it can deal.
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