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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Wines - Part 2

Christmas Eve dinner in our house is centered around the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes, so of course the wines are white, to pair with frutti di mare, lobster, shrimp, and assorted fried fish.

The first wine of the evening was the 2010 Grosjean Freres Petite Arvine (Vallee d’Aoste) - I know it sounds French but it’s actually Italian - and it’s lovely.  I had never tried a Petite Arvine before so I didn’t know what to expect.  The wine is a light golden color with characteristics of soft citrus and even softer orchard fruit notes, particularly peach, very soft spice, mineral, and a hint of yeastiness, with clean acidity but a slightly creamy feel and a long finish.  The wine is fascinating and fortunately very food friendly so it paired perfectly with the fish.

2010 Grosjean Freres Petite Arvine and 2009 Ferrando Erbaluce di Caluso La Torrazza

The next white, also Italian in keeping with the dinner theme, was the 2009 Ferrando Erbaluce di Caluso La Torrazza (Piemonte).  Another exciting new wine for me, it’s perhaps even more golden in color than the Petite Arvine, with somewhat rich characteristics of exotic fruit, white flowers, bitter nut, and a hint of fennel/anise with white stoniness and a crisp, clean texture and slightly bitter finish.  This wine was also an excellent pairing with the fish.

Overall, I was very happy with the white Italian selections for Christmas Eve dinner - both had just enough weight to them while staying crisp and clean and cutting through the fried fish, and both wines were fascinating and very enjoyable.
Dinner on Christmas Day was traditional lasagne, and the wine was the 2010 Mario Marengo Dolcetto d’Alba, a dark wine, purple with a pinkish rim, with rich characteristics of dark berry and lots of plum, purple flowers, and soft spice, and a nice balance of bright acidity with smooth tannins and a long enough finish.  The wine is uncomplicated on the palate and unpretentious, and perfect for pairing with traditional Italian pasta dishes.

2010 Mario Marengo Dolcetto d’Alba

To finish off our Christmas wines, we sipped the 2006 Joseph Phelps “Insignia” (Napa - 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot) - this wine is luscious with a dark, dense purple color, with characteristics of dark fruit, black currant, rich baking spices and vanilla, dark chocolate, oak, stony earthiness, and a briny hint.  The balance is excellent, with a bit of brightness but mostly soft plushness and smooth, elegant tannin, and a very long finish mostly reflecting the dark fruit and spice.

2006 Joseph Phelps Insignia

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