With only a few days to go until Christmas, it's time to 'fess up: Have you been naughty or nice? For goodness' sake, here's hoping you've been on your very best behavior this year -- because then you're fully deserving of these six stupendous bottles.
Read on for the continuation of last week's countdown of the twelve most holiday-worthy wines of 2011:
On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Noble House Riesling 2010 ($12): Oh, riesling. You're like that boy from high school that was a little bit of a nerd but also sort of funny and cute. But since no one could actually figure you out, they decided to shun you instead. It's all good, though: You're about to officially become part of the popular crowd. That's because wines this one have people lining up to join Team Riesling, thanks to the juicylicious lime curd and gingersnap flavors you deliver the same way that Santa brings presents. You know all those friends of yours who swear they hate riesling? We doubt they'll be singing that song after tasting one this delectable.
On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...Guy Drew Riesling Russell Vineyard 2010 ($16):
If the inclusion of two rieslings on our list of top holiday pours makes you wonder if there is some kind of pattern afoot, consider that little mystery solved. Ask anyone in the wine biz which white wine they'll be pouring with just about any meal between now and say - oh, forever - and you're likely to hear "riesling" as the response. But not just any riesling, mind you. The ones we're silly for are those that meet our strict criteria, which means not too much residual sugar, plenty of acidity and an endless finish. Guy Drew's version sees our bet and then raises us by serving up some bonus kiwi fruit and spicy lychee elements, which just happen to make this wine an ideal match-up for that crown roast of pork your parents are cooking up this week.
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...Alfred Eames Cellars Pinot Noir 2009 ($20): You may just be catching wind of this, but not all great Colorado juice comes from Palisade. The next time you're contemplating a wine-tasting road trip, program into your GPS the coordinates to Cortez - where Guy Drew Vineyards is located - or Paonia, where you'll find another one of our favorite hometown winemakers, Alfred Eames. The shining star in his roster of locally sourced varietal wines? This elegant, Old World-style pinot noir -- which our taste buds nearly failed to identify as such, subjected as they've been in recent years to a veritable onslaught of boozy pinots masquerading as syrahs. Drink this wine and find yourself instantly reminded of how great new world pinot can be.
On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...Chateau Musar Jeuene Red 2009 ($16): Official prediction: Lebanese wine will be selling like hotcakes in 2012. Much like super-trendy Portuguese bottlings of late (and Spanish ones before that), wines from this ancient Middle Eastern country - which means they've been at this for a minute, people - offer the discriminating wino some unique and highly drinkable wines at ridiculously gift-able prices. We are loving it for the holiday season thanks to its Rhône-meets-Bordeaux mashup of cinsault, carignan, syrah and cabernet sauvignon that somehow manages to succeed at being subtle, powerful, fruity and spicy. Drink it with food or without - just drink it.
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On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Mastroberadino Aglianico 2006 ($25): You know what? This wine is not for everyone. And when we say "everyone," we're talking to those of you who count yourself among that card-carrying crew of folks who reflexively order Napa cabernet like your doctor has written you a prescription for it. But if you (like us) are bored with blowsy, banal reds, then this in-your-face red is exactly what you've been waiting for. There's an inherent, pleasant bitterness to this wine (kinda like your morning Americano) that's deliciously offset by gobs of dark cherries and blueberries that help take the edge off. If you're not confident that your palate favors this kind of decidedly Old World flavor profile, start by pairing this one with a meal of roast Christmas duck or goose - preferably laced with a sauce of black olives and oranges. You'll be ready to drink it solo soon enough.
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Boulder Creek Cabernet Franc 2009 ($25): There are so many reasons why this bottle landed on our short list of the best wine we drank in 2011: We get to spend our money with a local biz; it features what we'd argue is Colorado's greatest grape; and our personal favorite - it's made by a woman winemaker. If you don't give a fig about any of that, then just focus on the fact that it's a phenomenally good wine. As you might expect from a cab franc, you'll be treated to plenty of dark berry fruit and leafy, herbaceous notes that will make a beautiful partner for everything from Hanukkah brisket to New Year's Eve prime rib. No matter what you're celebrating this season, with this wine everything will seem just a little bit more merry and bright.