'Tis the season for great wines

Words & Pix: Henry Yuen

'Tis the season for great wines

Food and wine events to welcome and celebrate Christmas and New Year have started weeks ago, the same goes for holiday shopping. My definition of such shopping is simple - just head to wine stores! Standing amongst shelves of wines may as well be my sanctuary, a therapy session if you will. The joy is further defined when I get my hands on some good-valued wines. I am one of those who buys wine generally for casual drinking rather than for long term cellaring. Though admittedly I will put away certain wines for a period of time but the sole purpose is for appropriate bottle-aging to allow the wine to reach the prime thus making the wine consumption more euphoric.

What better excuse it is to do some wine research and shopping to stock up for the holidays? A visit to the government signature liquor stores is always a good idea since they have more selections than those regular neighbourhood government stores. During this time of the year, private liquor stores are also  excellent wine stops since they do bring in special wines from around the world for the occasion which Government liquor stores may not have due to listings commitment. In any case, the shopping experience is for you to enjoy so visiting both would be recommended. Also, do not forget the convenience of on-line shopping. A lot of wineries will release special wines from their cellars for the holiday and are available to the public who are not wine club members.

It is never easy to suggest what to or how to choose wines for holiday gatherings. Yet what better time to share my selections than now? Shall I start with welcoming wines to any party?
There is no replacement for bubbles to spark the taste bud. Sure, if the budget allows, Champagne guarantees to be the popular choice but of course, it is not a must have since selections are plenty. As a BC wine lover who like to support anything local, but not big on reputation or big name labels, I go for bubbles that are fun and delicious, crisp and light, and budget friendly too so anyone can afford to crack open a bottle or two.

When there is a group, the reception drink should be versatile to appeal to most guests. For this season, my top choices are The Bub 2014 from Haywire Winery, the Evolve Cellars Effervescence and the Pink Effervescence.

Listed in the "Top 20 Wines" at the recent Cornucopia held at Whistler, The Bub was voted as the Top Bubble 2016. Crafted with the traditional method providing the foamy, creamy mouth feel and a hint of yeastiness on the palate, the Bub 2014 delivers a fine balance and vivid liveliness that utilizes the characteristics of the juice from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Fruits from the warm Summerland vineyard are the backbones that contributed the crispiness, freshness and attractive acidity to this wine. An easy drinking and light bubbled, this top sparkling wine of the year will be met with approval by everyone in the party.

Not far behind in the delicious quotient is the Evolve Cellar Effervescence. A blend of Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay that exhibits abundance of green apple and melon scents and more fruit forward, the wine is truly juicy and refreshing.  The lovely Pink Effervescence has more berry aroma, thanks to the Pinot Blanc and Merlot blend. The latter provides both the hue and the depth of this wine.

Now let's talk 'Red'. I shall tackle the 'white wine list' at a later time due to limited space here.
Common questions I get when it comes to red for the festive season: Do they have to be expensive? Do they have to be rare? Shall I share the ones from my wine cellar? Should they be 90+ point wines? I do not think there is anything wrong with drinking any or all of the above to indulge yourself or your guests for the sake of having a celebrative good time. My personal take as one important criteria in order to mark the special moments and to embrace the festive mood fully, is to stay away from the everyday wines. I do believe, for this jolly celebrative season, you and your guests deserve something slightly different than those workhorse wines that you pour regularly.

Everybody’s standard, objective, budget and taste profile is different so there is no single list that fits all. Like most wine lovers, I do have my own wish list and basic ideas of what my guests would like to drink.  Allow me to share my red wine list below with you. I think I have been good and behaved throughout the year so here is what I wish Santa would get me. Mind you, I could easily double the list but the truth is I can’t be too greedy. Happy Holidays!

Seghesio Zinfandel Sonoma 2013 Old Vines
Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 2010
Los Vascos Le Dix Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz
Stags’ Leap Petit Syrah Napa Valley 2012
Chateau Cantin 2011
Mission Hill Quatrain 2011
One Faith Vineyards 2012
Osoyoos Larose 2011
Painted Rock Syrah 2009
Concha Y Toro Don Melchor Puento Alto 2012
Gabriel Meffre Laurus 2010
La Fiole Du Pape Chateauneuf Du Pape
Ca’ Momi Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Santa Carolina Herencia Peumo Carmenere 2010