By The Glass
Vintages shine at dinners and under the tree
The holidays are upon us, bringing with them parties, festive dinners and gift buying. Here are some wine recommendations for each.
2006 Charles Joguet Chinon Rosé ($15): Well-made rosés are some of the most food-friendly wines available, which is why they are served in top restaurants across the country, often by the glass. The challenge is always finding the really good ones. Well, here is one of the world's finest!
Produced from the cabernet franc grape grown in France's Loire Valley, this is one of those select wines I await anxiously every year. I love its exuberant, fruity, refreshing deliciousness. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
It will work well with roast turkey, baked ham or roast chicken, as well as with the lighter foods served at office parties, from fresh crudités to vegetable wraps to chicken wings with ranch dressing.
2007 Domain Dupeuble Beaujolais Nouveau ($17): This wine is as delicious a red as you'll find (especially from the 2007 vintage), and also among the most food-friendly.
This is also as au naturale a wine as we ever see in the islands. Nothing is added or taken out. This is what beaujolais nouveau should be. The others we get in Hawaii will taste like imitations in comparison.
I'm going to recommend some California syrah-based red wines. And, let me say up front, these are NOT thick, dense, oaky, monumental Australian wannabes. Buy Australian if that is what you are looking for.
Syrah is at its best when you can describe it with words like "majestic," "sultry," "mysterious," "intriguing," "stylish" and "seductive."
I am hopeful that because of the meteoric success of pinot noir, wine lovers will also embrace the way syrah can lie between pinot and cabernet in weight, testosterone, "loudness" and especially food-friendliness. Each of these unique bottlings will make for a special gift.
2004 Graves Wine Growers Syrah ($34): Hilary Graves, a Moanalua High School graduate, produces a dark syrah with the aromas of wild blackberries and currants with all kinds of exotic spice nuances. The wine has a lovely roundness that few other syrahs display so well. Hilary's gentle winemaking touch is evident, as there are no hard edges.
2005 Neyers Syrah "Old Lakeville Road" ($27): This is a truly superb, gorgeous wine, darker, much more mysterious and intriguing than most, without any sense of heaviness.
The aroma captivates with a whirlwind of black fruit, incense, five-spice, green peppercorns, freshly cracked pepper and sandalwood. The flavor is loaded with lovely, rich fruit. Gorgeous is a good word to describe this wine.
2003 Ojai Syrah "Bien Nacido Vineyard" ($40): Undoubtedly one of my favorite reds out of California year in and year out. This is tour-de-force, Old World-style syrah. The scent is much more rustic and gamy, but deep, intense and intricate. The longer you swirl, the more nuances unfold.
This wine is mega-concentrated without gaudiness, and one cannot help loving the seductive texture. Nothing tooty fruity, just majestic, magnificent class.
Chuck Furuya is a master sommelier, partner in the Sansei restaurants and consultant for Southern Wine and Spirits. "By the Glass" is written by a rotating panel of wine professionals.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org