Beer & Wine

Holiday Wine Buying Guide: AFWC's Shari Gherman Recommends Different Wines for Every Budget

The holidays... ah, the time of year when you are expected to attend at least one party per weekend, and you must bring something -- for your boss, secret santa, your great-aunt Sally, or just a friend of a friend throwing a party. The time of year when you're supposed...
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The holidays... ah, the time of year when you are expected to attend at least one party per weekend, and you must bring something -- for your boss, secret santa, your great-aunt Sally, or just a friend of a friend throwing a party. The time of year when you're supposed to pick something out and present it to some random person you barely know. Luckily, there's always wine.

Shari Gherman of the American Fine Wine Competition gives us some recommendations on different wines for different budgets.

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All of the wines listed below can be purchased from Total Wine & More, Crown Wine & Spirits, or direct from the wineries. 

$25 and Under

Provenance Sauvignon Blanc, Napa, 2012  $19 AFWC Gold medal winner

"A provenance, as the winery explains, is a guarantee of a work of art's authenticity and Provenance's goal is to create works of art. The 2010 sauvignon blanc is deliciously crafted by Director of Winemaking Tom Rinaldi and Winemaker Chris Cooney. The wine is full of peach, melon and white floral aromas and flavors," says Gherman.

Calistoga Cellars Zinfandel, Napa, 2009  $23 AFWC Gold medal winner  
According to Gherman, "This Zinfandel has a deep ruby-black color, a raspberry nose, and an elegant palate with lots of plump black cherry. Many wine lovers think of Zinfandel as a wine that is jammy and has high alcohol. Ours is quite different, with a medium body mouth feel and it drinks well right now. Try this wine with any kind of cuisine. Of course, nothing is better with a barbecue than a Zinfandel!"

Mumm Napa Brut Rose $24 AFWC Gold medal winner                                                                                  
Gherman says, "Mumm Napa Brut Rosé offers a bouquet of ripe Pinot Noir fruit, rich with black cherry and strawberry notes. Part of the wine is initially fermented in the press, producing the soft fruity character that gives Brut Rosé its directness, while a small percentage of Chardonnay gives the wine power and structure. This more robust quality makes Brut Rosé a wonderful wine with many kinds of cuisine, ranging from Thai to Italian.  And always wonderful for a gift or celebration."

JCB No. 21, Brut Cremant De Bourgogne Sparkling Wine $25

"Traditional Method with a minimum ageing of 15 months. The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay combine to produce a fresh, fruity nose with almond and white flower aromas.  Full and generous in the mouth, N°21 epitomizes a lovely harmony between freshness and fruit," Gherman says.

JCB No. 69, Brut Rose Cremant De Bourgogne Sparkling Wine $25  
According to Ghermans, "This rosé is made in the saigneé method by carrying out a short maceration of Pinot Noir from Burgundy's côtes.  Vibrant aromas of raspberry and red currant evolve into aromatic jammy notes.  This wine is tender in the mouth with crisp flavors.

$25 to $50

J. Dusi Zinfandel, Paso Robles, 2009 $32 AFWC Silver medal winner  
"Big bright fruit envelopes you on the front palate with a hint of spice towards the end. This garnet zinfandel gives you the essence of 100% zinfandel from the westside terroir of the Dusi Vineyard. Brambleberry essence and dry finish that is medium bodied and can pair with a variety of food," says Gherman.

Von Strasser Gruner Veltliner, Diamond Mt, Napa, 2009  $41 AFWC Silver medal winner
According to Gherman, "Von Strasser is breaking new ground by bringing this grape variety to California, the first bottling in the state. It boasts aromas of passion fruit and citrus rind on the nose, and tart tropical fruits, green apple and rhubarb on the palate."

Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, 2008 $46 AFWC Gold medal winner

Gherman describes it as "Medium deep ruby color; rich, bright red cherry aromas with earthy and cola notes; ripe, bright red cherry flavors with nice complex earthy notes; silky texture; good structure and balance; long finish. Bright and silky Pinot that just tastes great."

$50 and Above

Mumm Napa Vineyards $55 AFWC Best of Class Sparkling     
According to Gherman, "2001 DVX  The Mumm Napa DVX is aged an average of six years in the bottle, allowing the flavors of apple, peach and raspberries to sink into the sparkling wine's bouquet. DVX boasts a greater power, and more elegant finish, than many of its contemporaries."

Frazier Cab Sauvignon, Coombsville, 2008 $55 AFWC Gold medal winner  
"The vintage was kind to Frazier, whose red wines excelled in 2008. This Cabernet Sauvignon, made by Kirk Venge, is classic Napa Valley. It's dry, richly textured in tannins, and complex, offering intense waves of blackberries, black currants, crème de cassis and oak. Yes, the alcohol is high, but who's counting? As good as it is now, it should develop bottle complexity over the next 4-6 years," Gherman says.

Chappellet Prichard Hill, 2008 $135 AFWC Double Gold medal winner  
Gherman says, "The most sought-after wine in the portfolio, this limited‐production Cabernet Sauvignon represents the pinnacle of Chappellet winemaking, and embodies the elegant power and complexity of Pritchard Hill winegrowing. Like the great Bordeaux wines that first inspired Donn Chappellet, this wine is crafted by blending Cabernet Sauvignon with other classic Bordeaux varietals. The wine was aged for 20 months in 100 percent new French oak. Grown on our rocky, mountainside vineyards, our Cabernets have consistently displayed an ability to age for several decades."

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